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There But For Fortune – 2/22/2015

[Rev. Kelly[i]:]

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a play about betrayal and hatred and despair. In particular how the cycle of wrongdoing and the quest for vengeance against the perpetrator can create a vicious, consuming cycle where all the possibilities of life become narrowed down to one tragic singularity. At one point in the story the titular character, the prince of Denmark, talks with two affable fools, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, about fate. They pronounce that though they are not quite so lucky as they could be, as servants of the royal family they are fairly pleased with the hand that has been dealt to them. And then comes the following exchange:

HAMLET: What have you, my good friends, deserved at the hands of fortune that she sends you to prison, hither?

GUILDENSTERN: Prison, my lord?

HAMLET: Denmark’s a prison.

ROSENCRANTZ: Then is the world one.

HAMLET: A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o’ th’ worst.

ROSENCRANTZ: We think not so, my lord.

HAMLET: Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.

ROSENCRANTZ: Why then, your ambition makes it one. ‘Tis too narrow for your mind.[ii]

          All three men share the same country. Comparing their respective stations in it, the two servants and their master, it would seem obvious that Hamlet has the better lot. And yet, the country which the two fools are glad to call home, its prince finds to be a dungeon, a prison, a cage from which he cannot escape. The metaphor of prison is a common fixture in our literature and in our speech. It’s used to describe any sort of difficult or desperate situation where the options becomes narrowed to the point of having no choice at all. We talk about the prison of poverty, the prison of ignorance; the Eagles sang about drug addiction as being “prisoners…of our own device.” Some religious and philosophical outlooks view the body itself as a prison – restraining the mind or the soul and keeping it from achieving its full potential.

To be in prison, so the metaphor goes, is to be unable to pursue one’s own sense of purpose. Malcolm X, who was assassinated 50 years ago yesterday, and who spent six years in Charlstown State Prison, not so far from here, wrote years after his release, “Any person who claims to have deep feeling for other human beings should think a long, long time before he votes to have other men kept behind bars – caged. I am not saying there shouldn’t be prisons, but there shouldn’t be bars. Behind bars, a man never reforms. He will never forget. He never will get completely over the memory of the bars.”[iii] To be imprisoned is to have one’s ambition, one’s calling, thwarted and blocked.

[Lisa M. Kirk:]

My heart tells me that the most important thing we can do while we live our lives is take care of each other. With that work we also take care of ourselves as we create community around us. So that, is truly my call. As the call got louder and louder, I realized I could no longer put it aside. I entered seminary and signed on for a Field Education with a Chaplaincy Program for the homeless and marginalized. The chaplaincy program is about companioning people during extreme difficulty. Most are victims of addiction, economic failure, mental illness. I learned early on that I, or any of us, could easily be in their shoes.

Our job was to just be with them. We walked the streets per chance we would run into someone who needed a listening ear and a reminder that they are valuable. We met with them at McDonalds in the morning for coffee.

One particular morning a young woman shared with me her fears of never becoming sober. She cried at the loss of her dignity every time she stumbled up the street, and every time she had to beg a friend for a bed or sleep by the river. I cried with her, holding her hands and praying for her to find the strength.

Every day, these people struggle to keep their dignity. We gave them the space to reclaim it whenever necessary simply by companioning them on their journey.

At the beginning I was so nervous I wondered what the heck I had been thinking to decide to take that route, but by the time I was done, I was so grateful for the experiences and the people I had met. The holy, in the form of peace and love, appeared in each exchange. I was changed. There was no way to avoid that. My heart had opened up even more for these people and the service fulfilled a call, an urge, a want to help people’s lives become easier. A spirit of good energy attached itself to me. On both sides peace and love grew. Human connection is an antidote to so many challenges in life.

I’ve been a part of the Church of the Larger Fellowship Letter Writing Ministry for a couple of years now. It has become a passion that affirms my belief in the inherent dignity of all. My time with the folks on the streets affirmed that my ministry is to the grieving and the marginalized in our world.

I have a story about a man named Norm and me. Norm and I began to write through the CLF a couple of years ago. I contacted CLF; filled out all the paperwork; got notification that I’d been matched with someone…and then, I waited. The waiting was hard; every day I wondered what he was like, was he a UU, would we get along? And so I was a little antsy, nervous, but I was also very excited about it, excited to find out who I was going to be writing with. In any conversation with my friends the topic came up, I expressing my nervousness, but also my hopes that this would be a long lasting meaningful connection. Finally the first letter came. It was thick, in a business sized envelope. More than I had hoped for. I had in my hand the answer to my wonderings and I couldn’t wait to read it. I ran into the house breathlessly, and with some apprehension, with some rumblings in my stomach, and happiness.

Norm’s letters are always 7 or 8 pages long. 8.5 X 11 sized paper, small handwriting. He uses every inch of the paper, sometimes even the margins. In his first letter he told me he identifies as Wiccan and he listed the Goddesses he prays to. He told what each one represents. He explained his belief as New Age-He wrote that every religion has a creation story and a flood story. With numerology, physics, and astronomical science he described how God is our Universe. It was quite an introduction; one I never could have predicted, but it did not disappoint, even though I don’t quite follow it all.

Norm is brilliant and he always has a lot to say. He can talk about the law, history, science, his many theories about God, his own failings and insecurities, and he never fails to say how much it means that I take the time to write to him. I, on the other hand, who spends hours and hours writing sermons, essays, papers, often need a break.

So, Norm and I clashed. Last spring I stopped keeping up with my end of the bargain. It was a very busy time and I stopped writing as often as I had been. Norm finally wrote and let me have it. He was hurt and angry. He was never disrespectful or rude, he was just honest.

I learned that my letters were the only form of communication he received from outside of the prison except a Sudoku subscription that his mom sometimes kept up with. Through a back and forth letter writing conversation for a few months Norm taught me what it is like to be in prison. As a prisoner he has no identity. He is no different from anyone else there. He has the same options, the same schedule, the same everything. He has no choices except those that are laid out for him; he cannot decide to go for a walk whenever he wants, or go to the gym, or have blueberries for breakfast.

[Rev. Kelly:]

The word ‘prison’ stands in as a place holder for any condition or situation in which there is a loss of self-determination. In our society it is most often invoked as a metaphor by people who are distant and aloof from the actual, literal place that is prison, and the experience of it. The current popularity of the television program, “Orange is the New Black,” most certainly not withstanding, much of the point of prisons as they currently function in America is to place certain people at a far remove from the rest of the community.

This was not always the case. Some of you have heard me talk before about the very early days of Christian religious life in New England. In the first towns settled by Europeans there was only one place of worship and attendance was mandatory. That mandate applied as much to folks in jail as it did to everyone else. So each Sunday the prisoners would be led to the meetinghouse, and sit in the same room and hear the same preaching as everyone else in town. And because the discussion of the Gospel was considered essential to the very early puritans, those prisoners had the same chance to speak in church as everyone else did. Some used that opportunity to speak what lesson they found in the readings for that day, and sometimes the lesson they found had to do with their current situation and why they ought to be let out of it.

But that is a far and distant cry from the situation of the modern prison. More than to reform, more even than to punish – though certainly it is a punishing place – the modern prison system serves as a means to throw people away. To disconnect them from the communities and relationships that all human beings need in order to manifest and reinforce our own humanity, and to place them out of sight and out of mind. There are some terrible crimes for which people do go to jail, and I do not mean to pretend that every soul in prison is innocent – although we also know, as a matter of pure statistical fact, that not everyone in prison is guilty, either. But as a society we have lost our sense of relationship to the prisoner, to the point where even once released – having paid one’s debt to society, as we say – a felony conviction remains an eternal blot on a human life. It allows for all manner of legal and social discrimination.

Eugene Victor Debs, the international labor organizer and four-time candidate for the US presidency – the last of those campaigns conducted while he was in prison himself – famously said, “So long as there is a minority, I am in it. So long as there is a criminal element, I am of it. So long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” The institution of the prison, as it currently exists in this country, can only be explained in this way: That those of us who make the system of incarceration possible, with our labor, with our tax dollars, or simply with our non-interference, proceed with the expectation that we and the people we love will never be subject to it. If we all actually believed that any and all of us could be imprisoned at some point in our lives, the institution would necessarily undergo a radical transformation.

[Lisa M. Kirk:]

It is not the prison’s job to build the prisoners up, to help them recover their self-esteem; the job is to break them down, and to keep them broken down. Every day, their dignity is stripped from them by their fellow prisoners and staff.

A few weeks ago a man who spent 18 years in prison visited a class I was in. He was part of a program called Partakers through which prisoners can get their bachelors degrees from BU while they are incarcerated. The professors go into the prisons and teach. This man told us that after he came out of a class a guard berated him telling him that he would never finish school, that he was not smart enough. With his words, the guard attempted to take away his dignity, he threatened his safety, his identity, his independence, his right to fairness. But, the visitor did not respond to the guard, he did not let him take his dignity, he did not take the bait. This is a consistent challenge for these people. Holding on to their dignity means not taking the bait, not trying to save face, avoiding conflict so they don’t end up in the hole, lose privileges or add years to their sentence.

Norm helped me to understand that I didn’t have to answer every single thing in every single letter he sent, which, at the time felt overwhelming to me. His letters are very long and detailed because I am the only one he has to talk with. My letters, even if they’re only a couple pages long, or, now and then a card or a Sudoku puzzle book, tell him that there is someone in the world who cares about who he is, about WHO he is. There is someone who cares about what he’s thinking about, and someone who thinks that he is important. What I came to understand is that he is just like me, just like any of us. He simply wants to be heard, to be counted. He wants to be seen as the individual that he is.

And the truth is that any one of us could be where he is.

I encourage you to join me in this letter writing ministry. In this blessed room, we are surrounded by a bunch of caring and compassionate people. If this community could add the joy of companionship to a number of our incarcerated brethren through pen pal relationships we would be making the world a better place.  It could have a great impact on your life and that of your prisoner, just as it has for me and Norm.

And, as I said, any one of us could be where Norm is.

In a society where people get left behind, we are not immune. The song that this service is named for speaks to that fine line between them and us. The first verse goes like this.

Show me a prison, show me a jail
Show me the prisoner, whose face is growing pale
And I’ll show you a young man
With so many reasons why
And there but for fortune, may go you or I.


[i] This sermon was composed and delivered cooperatively by Rev. Kelly and Lisa M. Kirk. Each holds the rights to their respective sections.

[ii] Act II, Scene 2.

[iii] From, The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Starting Fires

The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard famously told a story about the affable, well-liked fire chief of a small town. He was polite and agreeable, and he got along well with just about everyone else in the village he served. That was, until one day when the town had an actual fire.

When the alarm went up, the fire chief and his team of fire fighters sprang into action. They raced to the scene, but they found that they couldn’t get near enough to the conflagration to address the flames. The building, you see, was surrounded by local citizens who all had sped there at the sound of the alarm, hoping to help out their good friend the fire chief. They had no hoses or buckets or helmets or axes or any other special equipment. Most of them were just standing around, while trying to maintain a careful distance from the actual heat of the blaze. Someone had thought to bring several squirt guns with them, so the crowd was taking turns squirting tiny streams of water into the fire.

Bewildered and desperate to do his crucial job, the fire chief lost his temper and shouted uncharacteristically at the mob, “Go home! A fire is no time for well-meaning, half-hearted action. Your token effort is worth nothing at all! A real fire requires people who are ready to risk their lives!”

Kierkegaard told this story as a metaphor for faith and religious community. You can hear it quoted with some regularity to lambast the casual church-goer and proclaim that true religion demands of us costly and decisive action. Which would be all well and good, if the intersection between faith and the world we inhabit were like a fire in need of putting out. That metaphor seems wildly misplaced to me, however. If anything, I would say the opposite seems closer to the truth: the place where life and meaning intersect is a fire in need of being lit.

Under this reformed metaphor, you can imagine, perhaps, that larger and smaller contributions to the effort must still matter. More fuel is greater than less, and a match more useful than a lump of flint – at least in the short term. But if the aim is to build a fire – to tend it, to keep it burning, to help it grow – then every person who adds to it really does add something, no matter their amount. We can all be inspired – and ought to be – by those who give more of themselves than we do, who are ready to take greater risks or show greater courage than we have. But the little we can each do now – the first step, perhaps, towards such eventual greatness – is not some hollow gesture or callous obstruction of the real work being done by the true practitioners of our faith.

In truth, we are all equal participants in what it means to be Unitarian Universalists, and in our case a part of the First Parish Church in Beverly. It is to each of us to attempt what the truth of our hearts calls us towards, and not to try to sort our efforts into those of the squirt gun or the fire hose set. In the coming days, you may expect to receive a letter outlining the goals of this year’s annual canvass campaign. We have chosen to dream big this year because we are a congregation with a big mission in its community and in the hearts of its members and friends. Over the course of the next month, I hope that you and your households will discern together how much of yourself you see – or wish to see – in that mission, and join me in making a financial pledge for the coming year. During the service on March 1st, we’ll gather these pledges together with gratitude.

We are tending a fire together, and every last bit we add to it makes the flame brighter and warmer. I encourage you to give as you can, and to increase your contribution from last year, if you are able. The letter you’ll receive includes guidance in making your contribution based on your income and commitment level – my family and I aim to contribute 5% of our income each year, and I hope that many of you will join me in setting that as your goal. But I also remind us all that the difference between the heroic and the easy contribution is not knowable from the outside. Only you know for yourself what might test the limits of your generosity, and what only skims the surface of your abundance.

In Faith,

Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson

Lead Into Gold – 2/1/2015

The story goes something like this: in ancient Greece, Dionysus was the god of wine and drinking, madness and spontaneous insight, and generally having a good time. He had a whole company of magical beings who followed him around – the hangers on to his never-ending party. One of his closest attendants was a half-man/half-goat named Silenus. Being a dutiful follower of Dionysus, he was well over the legal limit most of the time, but on one particular occasion he managed to drink enough that he wandered into the garden of the king of Phrygia, and promptly passed out.

That king, King Midas, recognized Silenus as someone beloved of a god, and took good care of him. He made sure he regained his health, and then helped him find his way back to the court of Dionysus. In gratitude, Dionysus granted Midas one wish, and Midas, dreaming of wealth beyond measure, wished that anything he touched would turn to gold. Midas received exactly what he had asked for, and set about turning all manner of common things into gold: cups and bowls, tables and chairs, flowers from his garden – truly, everything he touched turned to gold.

The king was very pleased. Until he tried to eat, and found that food had no special exception to his wish, and anything he brought to his lips would still be rendered valuable, and unchanging, and completely impossible to eat. His joy quickly turned to fear, and soon Midas was beside himself. The final straw came when his daughter, whom he dearly loved, tried to comfort her father. For reaching out to him with a gentle touch, she became a statue. Overcome with grief, King Midas prayed to Dionysus and begged to have his wish – in truth, a curse – undone. Still in a generous mood, the god offered the king a way to reverse the whole affair, by bathing in the river Pactolus. Midas ran to the river and jumped into it, passing his terrible gift into its waters. His daughter, and everything else that he had touched were restored to just as they had been before, and this, the story explains, is why the river Pactolus is so rich with gold that you can sift little bits of it right out of the sand.

The moral of the fable is – and I think this is pretty unambiguous – that one cannot live by gold alone. Seeking wealth – or perhaps perfection, or immunity from change, whatever gold might represent – to the exclusion of everything else can only lead to suffering. In fact Aristotle alludes to a different version of the story in his philosophical work, Politics, in which Midas’ prayer of regret went unanswered, and he starved to death. Now, Midas’ is a pretty familiar story for most of us, I’d wager. All the names and details might not come up for us naturally, but folks probably recognize the name Midas as “that guy who turned everything he touched into gold.” What strikes me about this is that, collectively, we seem to only remember that part of the story.

The primary way we refer to Midas, in our culture, is with the saying that a person who is very successful or talented or good at whatever they do has ‘the Midas touch.’ There seems to be no sense of irony here, whenever it’s used to describe someone in business, or an artist, or whether it’s used to describe someone in the business world, or arts and entertainment, or sports. It’s particularly commonly said of the coaches of particularly successful athletic teams. A Google search for “Bill Belichik” “midas touch,” for instance, yields over 35,000 hits. And many of those are remarks from concerned sports commentators seizing on some moment of less-than-total superiority from the Patriots to wonder if this meant their coach had lost his ‘Midas touch’. Forgetting, apparently, that for Midas, being relieved of his magical touch was not his loss, but his salvation.

The ten-dollar word for transforming anything else into gold is chrysopoeia, and it’s a recurring theme in our legends and in our metaphors. Again, wealth here is the obvious meaning – gold is a relatively rare, and for that reason alone, many different human cultures have valued it and held it to be worth working for, trading for, or killing for. I have a powerful memory from my childhood about just how rare gold is. The memory is of a trip to the hall of minerals at the Museum of Natural History in New York City, which offered the fun fact that if you somehow took all of the gold in the world and melted it down into a single cube, it would only measure somewhere around 70 feet on each side. Now that’s a pretty big cube, but as this exhibit pointed out it’s less than half the width of a football field, so that if you plopped this imaginary block of all the world’s gold down in the middle of a game, it would be inconvenient, but the game could still be played around it. But gold’s meaning isn’t just its rarity and value as currency. Gold also represents success, accomplishment, an ideal or perfection. We talk about the ‘gold standard,’ the ‘golden rule,’ and the ‘golden age.’ And the other key quality of gold as a material is that it doesn’t tarnish or rust. To the ancients it symbolized something eternal, unchanging, and immune to the passage of time.

So the idea chrysopoeia, of being able to change some other material into gold by means of science or magic, is really about controlling and ultimately cheating change itself. Change is an essential quality of time and the universe. Science fiction author Octavia Butler wrote these on the subject:

“All that you touch

You change.

All that you change

Changes you.

The only lasting truth

Is change.


Is change.”

It’s sometimes said that the only things that don’t change are dead, but that’s not true – even dead things change. They decay, they decompose, and eventually their forms break down, sometimes into new living things. But the inescapable reality of change is so frightening that we like to tell ourselves we can control it. In his famous poem, ‘Ozymandius,’ Percy Bysshe Shelly wrote of the brazen declaration of power and timelessness contained on an ancient pedestal,

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The civilization that wrote the inscription had long since turned to dust. It’s mighty king’s attempt at immortality might last only a few centuries more before even his name was blasted off the stone by wind and sand. To invoke another famous poet, “Nothing gold can stay.”

There’s a story which is probably mostly legend about Vladimir the Great, a Russian monarch of the 10th century. It is said that he sent members of his court to study the religions of his neighbors, looking for a new faith for his pagan nation to adopt. When he heard their reports, he rejected Judaism because it had no homeland, and he rejected Islam because it forbade alcohol, something he believed his subjects would not accept. He opted instead for Christianity, and made a political agreement to marry a Christian princess. He traveled to Byzantium for the wedding and to officially accept his new religion. Vladimir and all the soldiers travelling with him were to be baptized together and this was not going to be a little sprinkling of water. The local tradition of the time called for a full-body immersion in the Black Sea.

The whole plan was thrown into jeopardy, however, when Vladimir was told that he and his fighting men could not continue the wars of conquest – at which they had been very successful – and still be good Christians. So, according to legend, he devised a compromise. Vladimir and his men each went into the sea with their right arms raised above the water – so that their bodies were baptized but their sword-arms remained unaltered. Vladimir wanted to have all the benefits of a new religion, and the political alliances it would open to him, but pay none of the costs, accept none of the limitations. He wanted to change without changing.

Change is inevitable. So often we try to tell ourselves we can control that change, and we can – but never completely. In the folklore of Ireland and Scotland, there’s a fantastical creature called a selkie – a seal that can swim to shore, take off its skin and walk on dry land as a human woman. In one of the most common folktales about a selkie goes something like this. A young man catches sight of a selkie and becomes infatuated with her. He steals her seal skin from its hiding place and once she is trapped as a human, he convinces her to marry him. For years they live together, make a home, raise a family; the selkie appears to be a wife and a mother, while all being a prisoner. Then one day, their eldest child is rummaging through her father’s things, and opens a certain trunk, and finds a certain seal-pelt. And then her mother sees it, and takes it, and runs back to the sea, never to be seen again. We want for change to serve our ends and no others, but this is never the case. The change that is essential to life is complex, it is messy, and it is unpredictable. And if we try to dictate it completely and totally, we only end up doing harm.

The term chrysopoeia comes from the tradition of alchemy, the forerunner of modern chemistry. The study of alchemy dates back millennia and crosses continents and numerous cultures and religions, but its European incarnation is famous for one particular goal: transforming lead, or any other cheap metal, into gold. In the Middle Ages it was not uncommon for wealthy or learned people – anyone with time enough on their hands and access to the right books – to dabble in the so-called art of alchemy. An alchemists laboratory would have had some of the same elements as a modern high school chemistry lab: glass containers for storing, measuring, and pouring different liquids and powders, flames for heating them, tools for mixing. The princes and kings of Europe would sometimes hire alchemists to come work for them, in the hopes that they might in all their mixing and experimenting, actually turn lead into gold and thus solve all of their country’s monetary troubles. Other monarchs feared exactly the same thing happening, but for some other benefactor, and outlawed the practice of alchemy to keep their nation’s economy from being destroyed by someone with the power to effectively print their own money.

But even if there really were alchemists motivated by nothing more than the pursuit of free money, others claimed that the transmutation of lead into gold was just a metaphor for a higher purpose. That purpose was sometimes said to be medical, and the project of alchemy – as far short of the standards of the modern scientific method as it often fell – did lead to some critical advances in medicine. For instance, Paracelcus – a famous alchemist of 16th century – was a pioneer in the study of both poisons and the human mind. In this case creating gold might be a euphemism for, or a precursor to, creating a panacea – a universal cure for all wounds and ailments – or simply for an elixir of immortality.

But others said that even the goal of healing human bodies was just a sideshow on the way to the truly great work: to purify and exalt the spirit of the alchemist and reach a higher plane of consciousness. A lot of what was written and taught about alchemy in its day mixes and blurs the lines between these three goals: wealth, immortality, and enlightenment. There’s a lot of vague, obtuse poetry – “as all things have been & arose from one by the mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing” – and their equivalent to lab instruction illustrations look like the stuff of heavy metal album covers: all dragons, and firebirds, and whole mountains carved with arcane figures. Throughout all this, one of the most common themes is the combining, dividing, and recombining of seemingly conflicting forces. Seeking a union between the mental faculties sometimes symbolized by a king, or a father, or the sun in the sky, and the spiritual qualities represented by a queen, or a mother, or the face of the moon. In a strange way, this focus on mixing and testing and measuring and recombining different elements in order to achieve success and perfection has a parallel to a football coach, again. Someone who combines different players into different arrangements, tests them under extreme pressure, and seeks the ultimate goal of their profession: to win.

I’ve chosen to spend so much time with you today meditating on change and the quest for wealth for three reasons. The first is that on Super Bowl Sunday, I could not resist all the odd ways in which Midas, alchemy, and the search for gold seemed to intersect with the topic I know most of you have had on your minds throughout. The second reason is that the beginning of February marks the beginning of our canvass season, during which the members and friends of this congregation make their annual pledge of financial support. We’ll spend the next several weeks with that process bubbling and percolating away like an alchemical concoction until one month from today, in the service on March 1st, when our pledges will be received and celebrated and consecrated. So I want to remind us of the lesson I believe the story of Midas teaches: seeking wealth for its own sake never goes well. When, as a community, we turn to each other and ask ourselves to lend our treasure to support our spiritual home, it is not and should not be just for the sake of having more money – or more anything for that matter. We hold this season each year not just out of necessity to keep the lights on and the snow shoveled out, but because we find something here worth growing and sustaining. This congregation has a great deal more work to do here in Beverly, on the North Shore, and in the larger world. Whatever we accomplish, it will be because we come together to lend our will, our wisdom, and our wallets to the task.

And the final reason I wanted to talk about change this morning is that we have an important question of change to face today in the special congregational meeting following this service. One of our neighbor congregations in Salem has asked if we would like to join together with them. The question before us is whether we believe our two elements may be combined to create something more precious. Whether we are ready, willing, and able, to embrace the possibility held in this potential change.

The answer in this, as is in so many other cases in life, is going to be up to you. Change, after all, is inescapable – it’s a reality and one we have to navigate – but we have the power to decide how we meet it. Fear of change, of the new, the different, is entirely natural, even reasonable. In every change is a sort of death: the ending of the sameness of the way things were before. But it is also a birth of sorts, a doorway into something different. The end of what has been and the beginning of what may be arrives for us no matter what.



First Parish Church

225 Cabot St

Beverly, MA 01915


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