Good morning, First Parish family and friends. This year’s Annual Campaign theme of “Here Together, Never Alone,” at first struck me as odd: aren’t we in fact NOT together, and aren’t many of us feeling isolated from one another? Before we had to go online, First Parish was THE place for me to be together in community, and the bustling nature of the place made it seem that none of us COULD ever be alone…and Zoom-world seems a poor substitute. However, Jan and I have been members at First Parish for more than 20 years, through all kinds of ups and downs – but never before this past year had I seen how much I truly may have taken First Parish for granted.
Last fall was pretty rough for my family here in Concord: Jan’s brother Bill died unexpectedly; our son Duncan, living here with us, fought off Covid-19; and I lost my job. You’ll remember that our country seemed to be shaking itself apart at the seams. Simple rituals like hugging and holding hands disappeared. I often felt unmoored; I turned inward, and while I meditated and read more, it was difficult to quiet the distracting blizzard of anxiety, fear, and sadness.
Through all of that, the First Parish community revealed itself again to be at the core of who I am in this world. Our community embraces me when I am kind and patient, AND when I am short tempered and aggravated. Even during these Zoom times, I build meaningful bridges to you all by participating in courses like Beloved Conversations, or Transforming Hearts, or by attending General Assembly, or by chairing your Standing Committee. I am reminded that people have suffered and endured FAR worse hardships. I have begun to see that the recognition of my privilege and position as a white man is an invitation to listen, to step out of the center, and to work even harder for justice. And with the support of you, my dear and dependable friends and allies at First Parish, I can perform that most sacred alchemy of all: I can turn my own despair into hope, my inner chaos into peace, and my personal losses into deep meaning. I can evolve, open my mind to possibility, and marvel at the wonder of it all. I can come back to First Parish again and again for clarity of purpose, inspiration, hope and fellowship. And maybe most critically, I don’t have to pretend that everything is OK when it isn’t: I can lean on you.
First Parish is my church home – and like my real home, sometimes the roof leaks and we get on each other’s nerves. But home is also that glowing window in the darkness, the island of peace in the turmoil, and a place of restoration and deep love. And sitting around the kitchen table, worrying about money, is part of the deal. This year Jan and I are not going to be able to give to the Annual Campaign at the level we’d like to: but we’re going to give as generously we can. I know that whatever we give will be more than well spent.
So, until we all receive our “Fauci Ouchy” I wish you all the delight of more sunshine, ever increasing peace of mind, and continued connection-making with each other across these electronic miles.