Today I’ll tell you a story from back in 2008, when the First Parish building was being renovated. Our congregation met at Kerem Shalom, the synagogue on Elm Street. My heart was heavy that year and I wanted to attend services. I couldn’t because of my work schedule.
One weekday, hoping for comfort, I dropped in at church. The building was filled with the sound of carpenters hammering, but nobody was in sight. I made my way up to the sanctuary to stand beneath the pulpit and face the dark pews. Around the room, the pillars holding up the balcony looked round and sturdy, the way they always do. The sun shone through clear glass windows.
“Thank you for being here,” I said out loud, imagining you all listening from the pews. “I needed to be here today. My mother is going blind and she has dementia.”
Somehow I felt encouraged to go on naming my sorrows out loud. I felt your attentive presence. It was deeply comforting.
Two years ago, remembering how much First Parish had meant to me that day, I increased my annual pledge to $1,000. When I took that first step I felt slightly woozy. My family lives on a modest retirement income. What if something drastic came up?
Well, something drastic has come up. And this year, my husband and I increased our pledge by 20%. Just yesterday, my brother-in-law died of suspected coronavirus. My feeling today is that I need this church more than ever.