A little over 5 years ago Dottie Mathews was ordained as a Unitarian Universalist Minister at the Lawrence University Chapel. In the sermon Dottie gave before her ordination, she said that she was ready and eager to accept the joys and challenges that being in the ministry would hold. She said she was deeply devoted to her calling and was ready and willing to do whatever she could to help build a better world. I remember crying not just a few tears but weeping over her sincerity and conviction and wondered if I would I ever find my calling. Would I ever know the thing I was really meant to do when it showed up? Would I even know it when I saw it?
Dottie Mathews served as the Associate Minister at the Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship for the past 5 years. During that time, she provided sound leadership and a profound love for the spiritual community that she was deeply committed to. We as a Fellowship laughed, cried, celebrated and grieved together with Dottie there as a beacon for all of us. Steadfast, true and just in her calling not only to the UU faith, but the community and the world. Here is a picture of Dottie taken at our wedding.
Dottie officiated our wedding. Everything about it was as perfect as could be. From the thunderstorm in the morning, to the tarp on the cement floor of the pavilion, to the bouquet toss from the top of the look out tower…everything. The morning of our wedding things weren’t looking so good. The wind was blowing and it rained and rained and rained. We gathered flowers at the Farm Market – and as the water ran down the streets, I started to wonder, “what is plan B”…so, I called Dottie, and she reminded me, that no matter what, it would all work out. We really didn’t have a plan B so plan B was to trust that no matter what, things do work out. And they did. We had a perfect day full of love, light and warmth (and a lot of really good cake!).
This isn’t the end of Dottie’s story, but it’s a story so it should have an ending. Dottie decided with great thought and soul-searching that she would leave the FVUUF and pursue a position at Goodwill Industries as their corporate chaplain. So, the Fellowship decided to have a celebration of Dottie’s ministry at the Fellowship, to thank her for all she had done for us as a congregation and as individual souls within that congregation.
A few months ago, we received an email asking whether or not we thought we could handle a brunch for 300 people in honor of Dottie. Without hesitation, we answered yes! (I had been hoping for weeks that they would ask, thinking to myself, “here I am send me”). So when they asked, I was thrilled and never had a second of doubt.
So, we started thinking and planning and doing the next thing that needed to be done. As of the Thursday, the last count was 350 people. A few more than I thought, so I thought “I better get more eggs!”.
So, I made a call to Tracy at Olden Produce and arranged to pick up 10 dozen more eggs. I had already gotten a little extra bread than I thought we would need from Renard’s European Bake Shop. With a few tweaks to the menu, I knew that everything was good. We would have plenty of food.
After a visit to Olden Produce and my favorite chickens (in their new home in the pasture) for more eggs we started cooking.
Emma helped with slicing mushrooms and cooked 50 pounds Venneford Country Meats bacon.
Jay ran around picking up things I forgot, cubed about 15 pounds of cheese, and basically cleaned up after me while I used 250 eggs, 37 loaves of bread, 4 gallons of Red Barn Milk and a few other ingredients to create Haroldene’s Brunch Eggs and Baked French Toast.
Sunday Morning, it was show time. I wasn’t worried, much. I kept hearing a voice in my head saying that no matter happened, everything would be okay. I had my family by my side and they would do whatever I asked. At one point when the eggs were bubbling over the side of the pan and the oven was smoking I thought…”this is not looking good”. But, I did what seemed the next right thing, and had faith in the cooking God and the God that helped me believe in myself, and the God that tells me I know what I am doing, that it would be fine.
So the service ended and the guests filed in from the beautiful sunshine for some food. I have no pictures to prove this happened because at this point, things got really busy.
After what seemed like a very short time, Jay told me we were running out and there were still a lot people in line. So, I saw some unused bread on the counter. I found a few eggs in the fridge and thought…”huh I better make some french toast…”. With one dish of French Toast (thirty minutes away from being done) in the oven and about 30 people left to serve I had 5 loaves of bread and 4 eggs. That would not do.
Lisa came into the kitchen to tell us how excellent the brunch was and asked if we needed any help. I said “yes, if you could find me some bread and eggs, that would be terrific!”. Off to the store she went.
In the meantime I remembered our friends Be and Tom – THEY LIVE ACROSS THE STREET! I thought “Maybe they have bread and eggs?”. And they did. They had 3 eggs. Great start, but still not enough. So, Be asked her neighbor and they had some more eggs, and then Lisa came back with two dozen more eggs and 4 loaves of bread. We kept making french toast until everyone was served. About that time, the dish in the oven was done, so those who had the FVUUF Neighborhood French Toast were able to sample some of the wonderful dish we had intended to serve.
Everyone was happy. Their bellies were full, and they were able to say farewell to their beloved minister. We even had some extra Red Barn Family Farms milk to share with Be’s neighbor in return for the eggs.
So, after almost everyone had left and I had a minute to sit still, I thought, “Kelly Jo (that’s me), what made you think you could serve that many people in the first place?”. It was at that moment I knew I found the thing I was meant to do and I laughed.
We are so blessed to be surrounded by a community, friends, family and even folks we barely know who believe in us and what we are trying to do. Each day we are affirmed that we are doing just what we are supposed to be doing right now.