In J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, The Two Towers, as the Hobbits find themselves traveling in great peril, Frodo tells Sam that he’s afraid he can’t go on. “I know,” says Sam. “It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are.”
With all that’s going on in our country right now, including what feels like a continuous assault on women and our rights to bodily integrity, not to mention on democracy itself, I confess that there are mornings that I wake up feeling like rather like Frodo, and needing a pep-talk like the one that Sam goes on to give.
“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said. “The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.”
Frodo asks, “What are we holding on to, Sam?”
And Sam replies, “That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”
There is so very much that is good in this world. That belief has long been fundamental to the Unitarianism that we inherited from our religious forebearers. That has been the belief that it’s worth fighting for.
I hope that in the midst of this busy fall of the ministerial search process, as you attend cottage meetings and the Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop on Sunday, October 21st, and as you carry on with the business of church…I hope you will remember how important the work of this liberal religious community really is. For we are called by our tradition to defend human dignity and truth and democracy – all core to our Unitarian Universalist Principles. Together we are part of one of those great stories, the ones that really mattered. Let us not turn back.
Autumn blessings on all you are and all you do,
Our Interim Minister Rev. Wendy L Bell’s bio:
The Rev. Wendy L. Bell received her Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1997 and was ordained jointly by the First Church in Jamaica Plain and the First Parish in Chelmsford in 2000. She served as the Interim Minister of the First UU Society of Rockport, MA, before being called to the Harvard UU Church, Harvard, MA, in 2001. After completing 14 years of successful ministry in Harvard, Wendy returned to interim ministry, most recently serving the First Parish in Malden for two years before being hired as the Interim Minister of the Unitarian Church of Sharon.
Wendy grew up as a United Methodist in the Washington, D.C. area, and went to college at Grinnell in Iowa, where she studied Russian language, literature and history before graduating as a Religious Studies major. While at Grinnell, Wendy learned more about the Hebrew Prophets, World Religions – especially Eastern religious traditions – Feminist Theology, and Liberation Theology, all of which helped prepare her for a vocation as a Unitarian Universalist minister.
Wendy is passionate about climate justice. She is a graduate of the GreenFaith Fellowship Program, which was created to educate, equip and empower religious leaders of all religious traditions to become better environmental leaders. She was involved in efforts to try to stop the construction of the high pressure gas pipeline in West Roxbury. And she recently presented a paper on the prophetic role of pastors in helping to facilitate climate grief in local congregations.
Wendy currently lives in Arlington, MA, with her wife, Cathy, and their daughter, Katelynn. In her free time, Wendy loves to read, hike, camp, kayak, and spend time with her family, including her Cockapoo puppy, Winnie, and her cat, Wendell Berry. She also volunteers at a therapeutic riding program in Lincoln, and is learning to play the bagpipes.