A holy place of connection

Published 6:50 am Wednesday, October 7, 2009

“The first thing we have to say respecting what are called new views here in New England at the present time, is, that they are not new, but the very oldest of thoughts cast into the mould of these new times.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

For the first time in months I attended the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Rochester last Sunday and forgot the service hours. There were quite a few cars in the parking lot when I finally arrived, and no one was walking in.

I hung my jacket up and pinned my name card on, and realized there was no one except a few women in the commons area. I assumed the service is where the people were and could hear choir music coming from the Sanctuary. I was a half hour late.

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A lady in the commons said it would be a good time to get in the sanctuary while the choir was singing. I was able to take a seat before their song Te Quiero ended and sat in the third row next to one of the members originally from Austin. I think his last name is Waters. The choir sang in Espanola.

I usually take a second row seat. When the choir finished Te Quiero, they occupied the first two rows, and I was out of their way.

The Rev. Dr. Carol Hepokoski talked about “Growing Our Diversity,” a special service dedicated to the UUA’s comprehensive campaign to fund Growth in Diversity programs.

She held up the book The Miners Cannery. It tells how the miners, way back when, released cannery’s in the caves to fly ahead. If the canaries came back, the air was good. If it was toxic, they didn’t come back. Then Carol invited people to think about what it means to welcome. She pointed out how the Racial Justice Task Force that exists in the church can make mistakes.

Carol closed the service by identifying the church as a holy place of connection. I liked that.

Following the service, I was walking back to the commons and saw a familiar face talking to Carol. Who is that I thought? I know that person. Of course, my aging mind didn’t come up with the answer as I drifted down to the coffee pot and greeted a gentleman originally from Austin.

I noticed the book area was missing so I asked a lady what happene,d and she escorted me to a small room where the bookshelves now stood, along with a sign out sheet. And there I found a copy of Emerson As Spiritual Guide.

I first became aware of Emerson in the early days of the Coffee House on Main. On the back cover was another appealing quote of Emerson: “To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.

Barry Andrews, the author said, “Reading is itself a spiritual discipline, a means of what Emerson termed self-culture. Emerson’s writings yield insights to those who read them carefully and more than once. Perhaps these treatments of his essay and addresses can provide a useful map to what for many readers is unfamiliar territory and difficult terrain.”

This made me wonder if we were losing the voices of Emerson and Thoreau and his life on Walden’s Pond where Thoreau said, “Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.”

I wonder if we haven’t lost the world these days when people read as opposed to now building a world around “Facebook” or text messaging. I was a facebook member, and perhaps still am, but I can’t remember my password, and I find this pleasing.

Walking back to the commons, I glimpsed a young couple with two small children sitting on the floor in a room as I passed by. I thought wait a minute, that’s Krin and Tarak, my niece and I guess nephew through marriage with their young boys.

Now we’ll have something to talk about at Thanksgiving when that comes along.

I haven’t watched the Minnesota/Detroit game yet. there’s a reason for that but I did, like many of you, enjoy the Vikings/Green Bay game the other night. Yet I think soccer is almost my preferred sport, watching healthy athletes run around without helmets and gear to protect their lives.