Hospitality and Gratitude

From The Shooting Star. Copyright 2010, Ellen Rowse Spero. All rights reserved.

On Wednesday, a high school freshman from Lowell, Ide Eboigbe, drowned at a class party. This young man attended Innovations Academy Charter  School, and was well-known to many of our high school youth and their  parents. After talking with some of our youth, I suggested that we send a prayer shawl to Ide's family with prayers pinned to it from  them. One of youth suggested that we also send a prayer shawl to the family that was hosting the party where the drowning accident took place.

I was deeply touched by this. One question I get asked a lot is how do we, as a creedless faith, help people deal with tragedy, loss, and death? We don't talk about God's will or that he is in a better place or that God does not give us more than we can bear. After all, who can bear the loss of a child, a friend, a young life? Niamh's suggestion made me feel that our Unitarian Universalist faith has helped nurture  a wider, thoughtful compassion in our young people. I have seen it other places as well, including in New Orleans and in the COA program.  I speak of hospitality and gratitude as being the two basic religious of our faith. I know that sounds funny as a response to death, a tragic death in particular. But what I see from Niamh and the other youth struggling with the loss of their friend is that hospitality:  reaching out to the families involved, reaching out to peers and each other. I see gratitude expressed in their memories and conversations.  I know that these things do not address all the questions and all pain. But in the midst of it, I see our young people laying a path grounded in the Spirit of Love, above all else. And I say to all of Ide's friends, youth and parents, that I will be around over the summer, if you would like to talk with me further.


June 27th starts our summer services at 9 a.m. in the chapel (a much cooler location!). Most of these will be lay led and it is a wonderful opportunity to hear your fellow congregants. I will lead two during the summer: July 11 and August 29. I am thinking of a "blessing of the animals" service for August 29th and will keep you posted.

I will be on vacation August 1-15 and August 21-28. Again, I will leave pastoral emergency contact information on my answering machine. During the month of July, I keep summer office hours, being in as needed and have my study time to prepare for sermons for next year. I am around for meetings and pastoral care and counseling. I will be taking a couple of trips out to Western Massachusetts to see family but can always return for pastoral emergencies and will be available by phone.

Lynne Cole and I will be facilitating an adult RE class entitled "Spirit of Life" which explores Unitarian Universalist spirituality through that hymn. It will be Wednesday evenings beginning June 30 from 7 to 9 pm and is scheduled for nine weeks. With summer, we don’t expect everyone to attend every session but request a commitment to be able to attend six. We need a minimum of six people to hold the course.

--- Rev. Ellen

Contact Info

First Parish Church
2 Westford St
Chelmsford MA 01824

978-256-5133