January 2019   
Minister's Monthly Column

January 2019


I’m writing this column from a train heading to NYC in the early morning light.  I think there may be no activity that I love more than riding the train.  And to boot, this train, this passage from New London all the way to New Haven is among the most beautiful passages I’ve ever experienced.  As I pass through the marshlands and the various bodies of water I still need to pinch myself, “This is where I live.”  The beauty of the shoreline will always demand reverence and gratitude.  So, when I get on a train I joyfully anticipate the reverence and gratitude that will wash over me. 

But this is what happened this morning.

I always sit in the “Quiet Car” where no one will be on their phones or talking loudly.  I love the Quiet Car.  As we stepped onto the train we were given fair warning, “The train is packed.  Grab the first seat you see.”  Walking before me was a pleasant woman lugging a suitcase.  She paused at a seat that was sort of free - “sort of” because one passenger was spread out and taking up two seats.  I began to pass her by, assuming that 1) the man taking up two seats would move, and 2) that she would take the seat. 

But in the kind of brief pause during which everything one needs to know is revealed it became clear that this man had no intention of moving.  I looked back and encouraged her, “Take that seat!”  As she quickly moved along, presumably not to make a scene she said, “No.  I don’t want to be a …”    I won’t tell you what she didn’t want to be but you can guess. 

My happy train mojo was beginning to wane and we hadn’t even left the station. 

We continued slogging along the aisle but now I’m in front of her and over my shoulder I say, “We will know the world has truly changed when your first instinct is to know that that man was being a jerk* and that you were absolutely not being a …”  She shrugged and kept on but when we passed the next redcap, she ratted out the seat hogger.  The redcap got right on it and headed to the Quiet Car. 

I intended this column to be first-column-of-the-year hopeful.  I don’t think it’s doomed.  Because here’s what’s hopeful – the world is changing.  I share this story of a stubborn and lingering vestige of the patriarchy only to say in the face of it, “Dude, the world is changing.  Move over.  Share the seat.”

And by saying so, I’m trusting that every male who reads this newsletter and this column will be able to read that last paragraph and not whither in a sea of fragility.  I trust that because I know that as a congregation we are trying to get better at recognizing and naming a whole host of systems that serve only to oppress. 

So yes.  The world is changing.  It’s changing slowly.  And it’s hard work.  Oftentimes the hard work disrupts our peace of mind, our plans, our lives.

Actually, I was supposed to be in NYC for this entire week.  But I had to come back unexpectedly because my time away was disrupted by an urgent call to service.  That’s how the world changes.  We sacrifice.  We shift gears.  We speak up. And it begins by honing our abilities to see and name unfairness both great and small because really, it’s all part of the same ball of injustice. 

So begin again with this message:  keep on.  The world may seem lunatic sometimes – because it is.  But our lives are still chock full of beauty that demands reverence.  Look up and out.  Give thanks – everyday. 

And because it’s a new year I’ll encourage you to make your way to Unity Hall on Sunday morning.  The spiritual nourishment we seek to offer will keep your mind, heart, and soul in balance in these oft-imbalanced times. 

Happy New Year, Dear Souls.   Choo Choo and with love for the journey,


*Truthfully, I used a different word.

P.S.  I will be away on holiday for the first two weeks of January.  My spouse Kate and I are traveling with a dear friend to Hawaii.  We feel so grateful and fortunate for this opportunity.  I will see you on January 20 for our Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday.  What a wonderful way to return!