I am writing this column on my Kindle fire from an AirBnB in Washington, D.C.. Yesterday we saw the African American History museum, something I have wanted to do for years. It is a gut wrenching experience, and many times I felt tears come to my eyes. In several places the visitor finds shackles, as a constant reminder of slavery’s legacy. Here is a Bible that belonged to Nat Turner, and there a shawl worn by Harriet Tubman. There was even a reference to our own Lydia Maria Child and her abolitionist work. She also helped publish the slave narrative of Harriet Jacobs.
We are in Washington to pick up our son Dana who is finishing an internship, and then will return home to graduate from college. He is worried about jobs. He, like many of us, struggles with transitions. Change is hard. As I write this our parish committee is interviewing prospective interim ministers. My time of saying goodbye approaches. I am attending some committees for the last time, and I continue to clean and sort. It is endless.
Writing and editing my history of First Parish has brought excitement and continuity. It is a tangible way to say goodbye to all of you. It says here is your ever evolving past. You and I have played a role in keeping the faith alive and growing. We have shown our dedication. Now it is time for a new phase, and I must let go.
In the Museum, we saw time move on from slavery to freedom. There was an entire railway car which depicted segregated travel, a watch tower from a prison, and Emmett TIll’s casket. It has been a difficult journey for many. We learned the familiar too, of the Unitarian minister’s attacked in Selma, and the only white woman to die in the civil rights struggle, Viola Liuzzo, a Unitarian from Detroit. There is so much to learn. There is so much more we could all envision in our quest for a just society. Fortunately the road continues beyond us. The dream will not die, as long as we teach those who follow what it means to build compassionate communities. All I can say is, be strong, and carry on.