The Soul Matters theme for this November is healing. When I reflected about how we help each other heal at First Parish, I immediately thought about the work of the Caring Committee and Shawl Ministry. I thought about how we hold each other in our thoughts during both the difficult and joyous times. I thought about the ways in which we share our experience – during Thirsty Theology, Friday Nights on the Lawn, and during our coffee hour break-out Zoom sessions. I thought about our Welcoming Congregation designation and our commitment to educate ourselves and take action to be more welcoming and affirming of LGBTQIA individuals. I thought about how we open our doors to everyone, no matter where they’re coming from, and try to treat them like family.
I thought about the vulnerability and humility required to heal individually, a willingness to lay aside pretense and be honest about our lived experience. I thought about the act of listening, the silence that follows an admission of pain and is full of quiet understanding. I thought about the conversations I’ve had – that I’m sure you’ve had – over coffee or beer or something in between.
I thought about growing pains and the discomfort of healing, the long process of bones knitting together or a scab itching before falling away. I thought about our own All Members Meetings and the patience we are all willing to extend to one another. I thought about the commitment each of us shares to see First Parish thrive. I thought about the sacrifices we’ve made in pursuit of a common goal, the strain on our time and resources, the opportunities or gatherings we’ve turned down elsewhere to join together.
I thought about what it means to heal from religion. I thought about our covenant together – not a fickle thing, but one that binds deeply. A choice. I thought about how different – how novel – that is compared to a faith defined by a list of thou shalts. I thought about the freedom of stretching wings, the marvel of flight, and the unknown things that lay beyond the horizon.
I thought about sharing myself and seeing reflected back not judgment or criticism but a welcoming gaze. I thought about others both like and unlike me, feeling the same. I thought about the understanding found in this community. I thought about empathy and compassion and grace. I thought about you.
In beloved community,
on behalf of the Board of Trustees