Reflections 11/21/10


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


I came across this poem by Mary Oliver entitled, "Philip's Birthday" in her new book, Evidence:


I gave,

to a friend that I care for deeply,

something that I loved.

It was only small


extremely shapely bone

that came from the ear

of a whale.

It hurt a little


to give it away.

The next morning

I went out, as usual,

at sunrise,


and there, in the harbor,

was a swan.

I don't know

what he or she was doing there,


but the beauty of it

was gift.

Do you see what I mean?

You give, and you are given.


I particularly love the last line: "You give and you are given." She is right: giving, particularly giving something precious is hard, whether it is our toys, our space, our time, or our energy. We struggle to learn to share from our childhood onward. And yet, I believe that we do give, we find that we are given. We might be given a deeper connection with someone or someones. We might be given a chance to learn something we hadn't known before. We might be given unexpected beauty. We might be given an encounter with the sacred and the holy that heals or transforms us in some way.


I am often asked to explain what Unitarian Universalists believe. It is not as hard as we make it. I have a couple of one or two sentence answers that are easy to remember. In this Thanksgiving season, I offer this version: As Unitarian Universalists, we believe in (or practice, as I prefer) gratitude, saying thank you to the earth or to God or to the Spirit of Life, or the universe, for Life. And in hospitality or saying, "you are welcome here" to all who need a place to call their religious home.


Happy Thanksgiving!


I will see you all on December 5th!


In faith,

Rev. Ellen

Contact Info

First Parish Church
2 Westford St
Chelmsford MA 01824