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There’s Always More To It Than That

News came in the last few months, from folks at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, about the collision of two black holes, roughly 1.3 billion light-years away from our own precious star. And though that, by itself, is a spectacular thing to imagine, the actual reason for the announcement – the news of the news – was that the collaborative project between researchers from a host of different schools and institutions had learned of the collision by observing the gravitational waves it produced. This being the first ever observation of such waves, it was a pretty big deal.

Hold that thought for just one second though, if you will. I am now more than halfway through my sabbatical period, the time generously afforded to me by our congregation for rest, renewal, and exploration. It’s been a good and fruitful time, and one I look forward to sharing more about with you when I return at the end of April. But March gave me the opportunity to come back to First Parish for a brief visit. I didn’t come back to check up on you, I promise, but I couldn’t help checking in, as long as I was around. What I found is that you all have been doing a great job in my absence. The congregation has stayed active and vital, its service and justice work has continued and grown, attendance and participation have been strong, and the staff and lay leaders have done an excellent job stepping up into places where I might normally have stepped in.

I knew that we were a strong and capable community before I set the schedule of this sabbatical with our board. But the degree to which y’all have pulled together, stuck together, and kept having fun together, honestly fills me with wonder. I’ve had a sabbatical before, and one hears spooky stories from colleagues from time to time, about everything that might go wrong. Instead, I find myself grateful for how much has gone right. What I’ve seen in my brief time back feels a little bit like a discovery, since the information is new to me. But in another, more accurate sense, all of this confidence and ability was here all along.

This brings us back around the gravitational waves. I recently brought up this major scientific discovery (major enough to catch fire in the popular press) with my go-to science consultant: my father, who is a retired physicist. In his usual, patient way, he acknowledged my excitement, while pointing out that the existence of these waves has been generally accepted for some time now – in fact, a Nobel prize was awarded for identifying indirect evidence of their existence back in the early 1990s! Similarly, what’s news to me about what our congregation can accomplish together may not be news to you. But, like the universe we inhabit, there is always more to who we are and can be together, the longer and harder that we look.


In Faith,

Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson



First Parish Church

225 Cabot St

Beverly, MA 01915


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