ReflectionsNovember 3rd is just under a week away and I imagine many of us are looking to that date with a mix of hope and anxiety. I know I am. I also realize, however, that the election may not resolve anything. In fact, it may lead to more conflict and confusion, if there is no clear winner for president. And even if there is, the incumbent’s threats to challenge a peaceful transition of power, should he be declared the loser, and claiming ahead of time about “fake votes” have infused the whole process with not just an undercurrent but an overcurrent of violence and intimidation. If that were not enough, Amy Coney Barrett has been confirmed to the Supreme Court—putting at risk the hard-won rights of women and LGBTQ people and their families as well as access to affordable health care for all Americans. Wildfires are burning in Colorado and California and another hurricane is threatening the Gulf Coast. Then, of course, the COVID 19 virus is surging around the country and the world. The colder weather and shorter days to come I know have many of us worried about the winter and how we will get through such difficult times.

I do not have many concrete answers, as hard as I have looked. I have attended a webinar led by the UUMA on preparing our congregations for the possibility of post-election disruption and violence. I have read through various resources provided by the UUA and shared them with the Standing Committee, the staff and other lay leaders. But the truth is that we are traversing unfamiliar territory here and no one really knows what will happen. It is that liminal time thing I keep talking about: the old way is no longer but the new way has not yet revealed itself and may not for a while. The consistent advice I hear is: stay grounded in our core values and prepare to respond thoughtfully and with agility from there. It is for times like these that we have our First Parish and UUA covenants to hold us and guide us. We put these covenants into practice through worship and spiritual exploration; through mutual care, being present to one another; and through service to the common good, bearing witness to justice and peace and being good stewards of all we have been given. As events unfold in the coming days and weeks, centering ourselves on these essential practices and discerning how they can support us and what they require of us now can guide us to respond out our core values and our faith, rather than just reacting to the anxiety of the moment. Who within and beyond our congregation needs our spiritual support, our care and our bearing witness? What areas of congregational life and in our larger community need attention and stewardship? How do we connect with our source of life and one another so we can renew our spirits and sustain ourselves to get through the liminal times we are in? I know that I am offering questions instead of answers but I hope the questions can shift us to look toward doing what we can do instead of focusing on all the things we can do nothing about. Meanwhile, I will offer a couple of post-election Zoom Cafés if needed next week.

A couple of more things as we enter the month of November. First, this coming Sunday, November 1, is our All Souls Service, where we read the names of loved ones who died in the last year. If you have a name you would like me to read, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Second, our Soul Matters Worship Theme is Healing, something that our country and our community are in need of. Rebecca Gore shared with me a Guest Column written by Reimi Hicks for the Chelmsford Eagle September 2nd, 2020. It is called: “A Letter to a Lone Black Lives Matter Protester”

Her family attended First Parish (before my time) and have continued to stay connected and support our congregation. Ms. Hicks words are a powerful and eloquent testimony to the reality of racism in our own community and to the hope for healing.

Stay safe and stay connected.

With gratitude for all of you, 
Rev. Ellen

Previous Reflections