Friends, Being your Secretary is usually a lot of fun. I get to welcome new members, who are often delighted to have found us. I get to sign people up for our Facebook page and our on-line Googlegroup discussion RNAnet, and I get to send out the monthly newsletter.
But sometimes it is tedious. Last month, for example, as I was preparing to send out Todd’s newsletter, I realized that because of some updates to my server, I had to massage ALL of your e-mail addresses, to format them for the new address window. I dreaded it.
But as it turned out, even that task was interesting and enjoyable, as there is a lot of information in e-mail addresses. I was reminded in several cases of wonderful conversations I had with you when you first joined, and I loved noticing how clever some of your addresses are (with handles like audiophile, canyonwren, Impiano, crazyblonde, steampower – from an environmentalist yet – musing, iguanalogos, and mountainsage). I noticed again how broad our occupational span is (with addresses ranging from “stonemason” to lots of edu extensions). Likewise the country extensions (like .ca, .and .uk) recalled the recent thrill when we got our latest member from Morocco, bringing the number of countries where we have members to 27. And incidentally, although I THOUGHT we were missing one US state, I discovered while massaging the addresses that we do have a New Mexico member after all, bringing us to 100% saturation of the US states – calloo, callay! Well, maybe not saturation, since 12 states only have one member (Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and West Virginia). That reminded me that we have work to do, and it made me ache with the loneliness that any of us feel when we are the only one of anything in our area, underscoring how important it is for us to reach out to one another virtually.
Our domain names are instructive too, including thankgodforevolution.com, athiestspirituality.net, plantepatriot.net, donoviolence.com, and others. The large number of members with “clergy” in their name reminded me that we officers have some immediate work to do, as our “Clergy Group” is finally moving forward on a website build-out which will offer naturalist resources even to clergy who aren’t conversant with naturalist ideas. I was also reminded that our board has now “endorsed” 3 naturalist chaplains who needed an endorsement for the Association of Professional Chaplains and couldn’t with integrity find one in mainstream denominations, and I wondered if that 3 will become larger in the coming year.
Nothing in the e-mail addresses demonstrates directly our wide age range, but the servers give a hint – with lots of old-timers like me who still use AOL, through the yahoo craze or hotmail or comcast or juno, and now of course the preponderance of gmail, with you super-sophisticated icloud and mac and me users generously sprinkled in.
Finally, as I reviewed your e-mail addresses, I thought of all your competencies, and how you represent a huge and mostly untapped reservoir of talent. There are so many projects we could do together (we’ve talked of everything from book lists to Wikipedia articles to poetry groups to environmental emphases to youth camps). We as officers and board members need to figure out how to channel your talents better in the coming year. As always, we love hearing from you, and when you are ready to think about a place of service, talking about THAT will perhaps be my most delightful task of all.
Happy New Year dear friends and members. Let’s make it a great one.
Cordially, Michael Cavanaugh, Secretary