I feel myself moving through cycles of time: beginnings and endings. As summer draws to a close, I’m looking forward to another Homecoming Sunday – my 25th in Westport. A new season; another chance to see how well we can do in our effort to live out the affirmation; ‘love is the spirit…and service its law…to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another.’ That’s our mission; our shared vision.
Among my favorite books is Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I often think about the concluding lines where he has the maturing Stephen Dedalus say:
“Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead.”
My summer has provided opportunities to ‘encounter the realities of experience,’ spending some quality time with my daughter Susan on her 45th birthday, and my son Jonathan on his 41st; time, too, with my grandchildren, Alex and Hannah — in September they turn 21 and 18, as they go off to Hamphire College togather, where Alex is a junior and Hannah a freshman – a beginning.
Lory and I spent time in Maine, both at my little cabin and my daughter’s Sue’s beach house, as well as the great week we had together at Chautauqua in July.
While Lory and I were at Sue’s place she called to tell us about the tragedy at our sister congregation in Knoxville, where a crazy gunman opened fire, killing Greg McKendry, a long-time member of that congregation, and Linda Kraeger, a Unitarian who was visiting that morning. Several others were seriously wounded and the entire congregation was traumatized. A sense of solidarity among our Unitarian Universalist congregations swept across the continent. Many, including Margie Allen, went to offer support by their ministry of presence.
Greg McKendry stood in front of the deranged shooter, confronting him and trying to prevent him from harming others. His heroic action symbolizes our confrontation of the forces of evil in this world – our determination to stand together for the freedoms we cherish – to ‘forge in the smithy of the soul the uncreated conscience of our race.’
We have our work cut out for us. We need one another’s support and encoyragement as we continue toward our goal of peace and justice. We’re reminded that there is a heroic quality in the day-to-day living of our lives.
I hope you are well, and I look forward to seeing you on Homecoming Sunday when we gather on the lawn, distribute symbols of our chosen faith and walk together into our sacred space to ‘welcome life,’ taking another step on this shared journey.