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


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


While I was on sabbatical, I took a course at Andover Newton Theological Seminary with Dr. Margaret Benefiel on the soul of leadership. We began each class with a time of “Appreciations”: sharing with our classmates anything that they had said or done that we found valuable, supportive or helpful. We were instructed to make the appreciations specific. “You are a nice person” was not enough.

Following Margaret’s example, I have been asking the Standing Committee to share what they appreciate about their fellow committee members. I know that Sadie has done this with the Religious Education Council as well. It brings a nice energy to the meeting to begin this way.

And as November is a month celebrating gratitude and appreciations, I have some to share. I am aware of at least some of the folks who contribute time and talent to make sure that many of the important if overlooked tasks get done around the church. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a start.

-     I appreciate Ron Cook finding and installing the new handicap parking signs in the parking lot and hanging hooks in the chapel to hold quilts.

-     I appreciate Jun-ichi and Akiko Sano coming in every Wednesday to fold and address newsletters (and the Cooks for stepping in when the Sanos cannot). Jane and Bill Drury used to do this before Jane became too ill.

-     I appreciate Martha Sherburne keeping our grounds beautiful, and all those who mowed the grass over the long, hot summer.

-     I appreciate Lynne Cole and the “Kitchen Dwellers” for organizing the set-up, food, and clean-up for Sadie’s baby shower.

-     I appreciate Judith Taylor, and Lynne and Walter Cole getting the quilts hung up in the chapel to help warm the room and control the sound. And Ellen Mellen for lending us some of her beautiful quilts to hang.

-     I appreciate Cornelia Kirkpatrick,  and Jeanne Thompson for cleaning out and organizing closets in the heat of the summer.

-     I appreciate the choirs and Cyndi Bliss for rescheduling rehearsals so that we can open the sanctuary at 10:15. It has contributed greatly to a more worshipful atmosphere.

-     I appreciate the Tervo Family, Will Reiter, Alicia Page, and Dave Merullo for providing music at the evening services. And Carla for organizing the important part of worship.


As I said, this list is in no way complete. If you have appreciations to share, please send them to me. I would like to make room for us to appreciate what we give one another to keep this church going!


In faith,

Rev. Ellen