people sit in rows of blue chairs facing minister in robe at front of room

Sunday Reflection – Carole Katz – March 12th, 2023

Mar 13, 2023

A couple of weeks ago Rev. Sophia asked us, “How has First Parish affected your heart and soul?” If I listed all the ways there would be no time to hear from anyone else.  But I’ll tell you about a few of the most meaningful.

I first came to First Parish in 1988. I was recently divorced and a single mom.  I had been working with a bunch of mothers at the former Phillips School to start an afterschool program.  I learned that most of them attended the church around the corner from me.  So I asked them about it and they invited me to stop by and try it out. 

I had been raised in a predominately Irish-Catholic Dorchester neighborhood and didn’t know anything about the other churches I saw sprinkled about the neighborhoods. 

Two things drew me away from the Catholic church: The first was learning about Greek mythology.  I couldn’t get passed the question that if they were wrong about the gods, how do we know we’re not wrong?  The other was being introduced to Buddhism in college which fed my thirsty soul but was a bit too foreign in their traditions for me to adopt completely. 

So for many years I sought spiritual grace from bits and pieces of wisdom I could gather from books or friends wiser than me.  But in times of crisis I felt pretty lost.  Fortunately I found Alanon during a particularly difficult time in my life.  Alanon, if you don’t know, is for family and friends affected by someone’s addiction.  It was life saving in many, many ways.  But one of the most important was it gave me the courage to try new things.  And that’s how I came to have the courage to walk into a completely unknown church full of people I didn’t know and see what was here.

That was the day my life began to change.  First, it was Patty Devore’s amazing music and Rev. Mark Salkin’s humorous but insightful sermons.  I would sit in the sanctuary and be enchanted and entranced and wonder why the room wasn’t full to capacity.  Talk about a best kept secret.  If only others knew!  This was something I never experienced in a Mass ever! 

Next, it was the many friendships and mentors that developed over the years through committee work and circle suppers.  Friendships that I cherish to this day.  And so many people here have been mentors to me — so many of you probably aren’t aware that your leadership and grace during good times and challenging times have inspired me, and still inspire me, to be a better person.

The next big gift I received from my relationship with First Parish was Star Island.  In the past we had the occasional weekend retreats and day trips, and one day we visited Star Island, a Unitarian Universalist Conference Center off the coast of New Hampshire. 

My first weeklong visit to Star was in 1997.  Each summer the Arts conference is held in June and the organizers invite a variety of deeply loving and wise guest UU ministers to share the week with us.  People like Rev. Maggie Rebman, Rev. Bill Clark, Rev. Nancy Crumbine, Rev. Kate Wilkinson and to name a few.  And on Star more wonderful friendships developed. 

Then here at First Parish we had the Reverends Andrea Greenwood and Mark Harris.  Each bringing their unique gifts to us.  Andrea not only officiated at my daughter’s wedding, four years later she blessed my granddaughter at a private naming ceremony at their home in Jamaica Plain.   And Mark taught us all about the rich history we UUs have inherited.  A history we are now learning is more complex than we maybe first thought. 

Recently, thanks to Charlyn’s encouragement, I joined the choir.  Wow.  It has been so wonderful to learn these beautiful pieces Guy and Charlyn choose.  And the two of them work so hard to make it as easy as they can for us to learn. I feel incredibly privileged to be among these lovely voices and amazing musicians. 

And on top of these wonderful friendships and experiences I been fortunate to receive, probably most important of all is the fact that here I am not asked to adopt any specific beliefs, accept to be kind to one another.  And that I am free to have my own ideas about spirituality.  And I don’t take that for granted.  I am thankful every day that I can be myself here and I will be welcomed and listened to. 

The Catholic church often talks about grace.  Say grace before meals, experience grace from ritual, etc.  I never really got it until I came to First Parish.  Now, I come each Sunday to be bathed in beautiful music and powerful messages which fill me with grace and gratitude that get me through the week. 

I feel so, so lucky that I walked through that door 45 years ago. First Parish of Watertown is my heart and Unitarian Universalism is my soul.  And I am so thankful.

Worship Committee
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The Worship Committee works with the Minister and the Music Director to ensure the spiritual needs of this congregation are met in the vision, structure, and tone of the worship services. The committee serves as the congregation’s means of actively participating in making its worship services meaningful and supportive or individual and communal spiritual growth and enhancement. The committee helps coordinate special services, lay-led services, and organizes lay-led summer services.

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