Annie Dillard writes, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Congregant and Lay Leader Janel Dennard reflects on how volunteering at UUCA articulates her values and shapes her life. 

It’s Monday morning in the Dennard household, and we’re fully engaged in the daily dance of the 21st-century family. We’re feeding our animal companions, getting the small one ready for school, reviewing our calendars, and checking in with each other about the various tasks and commitments that make up our week. I notice the reminder for the spring fundraiser meeting for Ellis’s school this week and let out an audible groan. I signed up to help with this event at last month’s parent board meeting, and I now find myself regretting that decision.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Ellis’s school, and I acknowledge the need for parental involvement in the work of achieving educational equity – but the thought of meeting with those other “normie” parents to plan a cornhole tournament and determine the best snow cone vendor doesn’t particularly excite me. Honestly, what do I know about cornhole? (And aren’t those kids already sticky enough?)

Moments like these remind me of Annie Dillard’s words from The Writing Life. Dillard writes, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” I love this simple meditation. It prompts us to reflect on our values, consider the correlation between presence and productivity, and acknowledge our finite relationship with time. It reminds us to evaluate not only what we’re spending our energy on, but how and where we are spending it.

My understanding of these words illustrates why I find volunteering at UUCA so deeply fulfilling. Here, I’m able to engage in the type of work that speaks to my authentic self on so many levels. For example, when I learned of the need to help facilitate The Village (the Sunday morning parent support group), I immediately felt compelled to contribute. This experience has fed my soul by offering an opportunity to connect with other families and parent in a more mindful way. My time serving on the stewardship committee provided me with a platform to flex my communications skills and nerd out on a spreadsheet. Serving on the board has probably been my most rewarding experience to date, as through this work I have developed meaningful connections with smart, thoughtful, dynamic leaders within our congregation.

My own experiences reflect just a few examples of the many volunteer opportunities UUCA has to offer. No matter what fuels your spirit or ignites your passion, there is a place where your talents are celebrated in this house of belonging. I invite you to think about the kind of work that nurtures your authentic self, and find out how you can share in the transformative work of this congregation. Read the weekly updates, add your skills and interests to your Realm profile, or check with someone on the Radical Welcome team before or after service about ways to volunteer. It’s a wonderfully rewarding way to spend your days and your life.