I loved playing with a bell choir when we lived in New Jersey, but I did not feel a connection with the church and would leave after our musical prelude. In searching for a bell choir to join here, however, I may have found a community and a church. This is unexpected because I have never felt comfortable in any church or temple before.
The local First Parish in Wayland is a Unitarian Universalist church. I had never heard of this liberal religious tradition. The program identifies the purpose of the congregation to "provide a place where freedom of religious thought can flourish, where we can to devote ourselves to explore together ideas about values, ethics and morality, and to act for the good of the local and larger community...." When I just reread this description, it didn't sound too different from most churches, but the feeling of tolerance and charitable spirit is definitely a world apart from anything I have experience before. The two meetings I have attended have been incredibly welcoming, inclusive and thought provoking.
The first talked about forgiveness. It challenged the story of original sin. The minister discussed the story of Adam and Eve not as a story of sin and punishment, but rather as one of God sharing knowledge with man. Once Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden, unlike animals, they could have a more full life, feeling many sorrows but also many joys and love, and the complexity of choice and fulfillment. It was eye opening.
At yesterday's service the minister discussed how even though the problems of the world are great, we can make a difference. So many people at the church seem to be doing just that. They house the homeless, feed the hungry, and rebuild New Orleans during annual trips. Then a doctor from the congregation spoke about his recent 14 day trip to Haiti where for up to 16 hours per day he operated on patients.
The minister quoted a Salon article by Laura Wagner, an American who had lived and worked in Haiti long before the quake. She was injured, eventually rescued and is recovering back home in America.
"Social scientists who study catastrophes say there are no natural disasters. In every calamity, it is inevitably the poor who suffer more, die more, and will continue to suffer and die after the cameras turn their gaze elsewhere. Do not be deceived by claims that everyone was affected equally -- fault lines are social as well as geological. After all, I am here, with my white skin and my U.S. citizenship, listening to birds outside the window in the gray-brown of a North Carolina winter, while the people who welcomed me into their lives are still in Port-au-Prince, within the wreckage, several of them still not accounted for."
FAULT LINES ARE SOCIAL AS WELL AS GEOLOGICAL
My son and I will be playing with the bell choir in the church next week. I'm happy to get back to music making and plan to stay for the rest of the service too.
Here's a video of our New Jersey bell choir from our last concert.
And it is Monday, time for my lovely thing of the week:
I suppose it would be finding a bell choir, and perhaps finding a church(?)!