On November 25th in worship, we reflected on what breaks our hearts. Those of you who were present know that this was a very moving experience, with lots of real emotion expressed by many, as we faced and named some of the things that break our hearts. I was deeply moved by how willing you were to share in one another’s pain and vulnerability. I believe that’s a sign of a strong community.
Near the end of the service, I mentioned Maria Shriver who has said that “What breaks your heart?” is “about the best question [she’s] every heard to help you get closer to your soul’s longing and closer to your life’s passion and purpose.” She continues,
“But, I think before you can even answer that question, you must first acknowledge that your heart is broken, or has been broken….There are several things that break my heart today [she says]. It’s broken by the fact that we still don’t have a cure for Alzheimer’s. It’s broken by the injustice so many of our fellow Americans face as they work so hard, yet still live paycheck to paycheck. It’s broken by the state of our criminal justice system and the way it treats many Americans. It’s broken listening to the young women of the USA gymnastics team speak out against the abuse they endured for far too long…
But,what really breaks my heart right now is how divided we are as a nation. How mean we are to one another. How critical we are of one another. How judgmental we are of each other and how angry we are at each other. Also, how lonely we all seem to be.
Yet, what moves me is the deep belief that we are all longing for the same things. We are all longing to be accepted, to be seen and understood, and to be invited into the space that unites us. What breaks my heart is also what simultaneously fills and fuels my heart. It is a deep belief that we are more alike than we are different. It is the belief that we long to be more united than separate. It is the belief that we ache and break and want to put the pieces back together again, and that we want to do it together.“
This month, as the darkness of December deepens and we begin to look forward to the return of the light, let us remember to be kind and gentle with one another, to breathe deeply and assume good intentions. Let us continue to share the light of our love with one another and to show the community around us the light of love that shines within our congregation so that they might know us by our love and by our tender, compassionate hearts.
In faith, hope, joy, and love,
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.