April 2021: Becoming

On Becoming the People (and the Parish) We Are Meant to Be  

I like cake. As anyone who knows me knows, I really like cake. (It’s one of the items that makes losing weight so tough.) Susan made scones the other day, and they are absolutely great. But why do I like scones or cake? Flour is pretty bland; did you ever try to just eat a spoonful? Does baking powder make your mouth water? Walnuts are OK by themselves, but really only in limited quantities. And raw eggs? Not for me. Sure, I like butter, but I cannot sit down and eat a whole stick of it. Even honey, sweet as it is, is something I can only take in limited quantities by itself. But put them together, in the right amounts, and transform them with a little heat, and you come up with something very different. The combination BECOMES MORE than the individual parts. It becomes a cake, or a scone, or a batch of cookies.   I was talking to one of our parish members the other day, and they reminded me of the diversity of opinions held by members of the parish. We each have our own ideas, some of which we believe strongly. But it is interesting that together we can become much more than we are as individuals. Whether we individually are the bland flour, the sweet sugar, the strong spice, the egg that helps to bind us together, or the baking powder that helps us to grow, we can only BECOME MORE than we are by being mixed together and working (or being heated) together.

I was always encouraged by the MLK quote “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” It was not until much later in life that I learned that this MLK message was a shortening of a longer thought from the Unitarian minister Theodore Parker, who said, “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.” And it was even later that I became aware of the need for action cited in the admonition from Attorney General Eric Holder, who is quoted as cautioning that “the arc bends toward justice, but it only bends toward justice because people pull it towards justice. It doesn’t happen on its own.”

Putting flour, eggs, sugar, baking powder, nuts, and spices together in a bowl does not make a cake. They need to be mixed together well, and it takes the work of the heat to convert these ingredients to make the cake. We have the ingredients for a fantastic recipe in the people that make up First Parish; but it is only by working together for common cause, be it by organizing guest speakers and music for our Sunday services, or the book club discussions to nourish our minds, or the food sales at the brew fest to support the Stoughton Food Pantry, or by keeping the Community Cabinet filled, or by financially supporting the continued existence of the parish so that we can bring our Universalist tenets to the next generation, that we can become the people, and the parish, that we are meant to be. I look forward to working, and learning, and becoming more with you again next year.

Mark Racicot, Treasurer
for the Board of Trustees