We call it ‘the Boston trip.’ Every year I take the Coming of Age class on a pilgrimage to sacred Unitarian shrines. On a few occasions I’ve taken adult groups, which I did last Friday and Saturday. There were 55 of us – as many as a big bus could carry.
We boarded the bus in the rain on Friday morning at 8 a.m. Anne Khanna, who organized the trip (bless her!) was attendance, and told me that she had calls from six of our participants who were ‘stuck on the Merritt’ because of an accident. So we waited, and within an hour all showed up, thanks to the magic of cell phones!
Anne and I talked about how we could make up the lost hour and we made a plan. On the highway we were caught in traffic because of a fire on a car carrier truck – three of the cars were in flames – another set-back. When we arrived in Boston we discovered that the bus’s GPS had the wrong address for Arlington Street Church and before I realized we were headed away from downtown Boston into Roxbury!
We finally arrived at Arlington Street Church, whose address is 255 Boylston Street, where we enjoyed an excellent visit. I mounted the high pulpit and read from the sermon, Unitarian Christianity, which William Ellery Channing delivered in 1819 to launch what became the Unitarian movement in America.
Since it was raining, we couldn’t picnic on Boston Public Gardens, as we’d hoped, so we ate lunch in a chapel adjacent to the sanctuary and were soon on our way to the Unitarian Universalist Association head- quarters at 25 Beacon Street where we had a brief tour, and from there we went to the Shaw Memorial on Boston Common, depicting Unitarian Robert Gould Shaw who led the 54th, the first all-black Civil War regiment. He died in battle with many of his men. The 1989 award-winning movie Glory tells the story.
From the Shaw Memorial we walked to King’s Chapel, and arrived just before they closed, had a brief-but-interesting tour and walked in the rain to the Holocaust Memorial, then we trudged through Quincy Market, making our way to the North End where we enjoyed a wonderful Italian meal. We met the bus for the drive to our hotel and decided to cancel the evening program – it was late, so we crashed!
The next morning we were faced with another set-back – the bus company sent us a 48-passenger bus for 55 people; in addition to being too small, once we hit the highway we realized that the full load and its age caused it to wobble and shake, its retirement overdo.
During the stop at Follen Church in Lexington, Anne made frantic calls to the bus company and car rentals – three vans were located to get some who had to return to Westport at our scheduled time because of commit- ments – most of us made it to Emerson and Thoreau’s graves and to Walden Pond where we concluded the trip. ‘Sweet are the uses of adversity,’ the Bard said – those challenges made it all the more memorable.