Reflection by Suzanne Pallak
As a life-long UU I thought myself quite familiar with Unitarian Universalism, and I certainly was familiar with the humanist tradition of the Unitarian Church in which I was raised. Thanks to the Path to Membership classes I took last year, I became aware of (and curious about) a much richer and broader UU history than I had learned as a child. So, when the opportunity to join the youth on the UU Boston Trip arose, I eagerly signed up. For many reasons and in many ways, this trip was transformative, both an awakening and a re-awakening to what it means to me to be a Unitarian.
Again and again I was impressed with the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas, positions that while in tension with one another, yet are included in Unitarian Universalism. The contrast between a humble storefront housing a Universalist community church and the glorious awe-inspiring beauty of the 19th century and modern Unitarian churches spoke to the tension between emphasis on social action to “heal the world” and on “feeding the spirit.” Visiting Concord and the spirits of Thoreau, Emerson, and the Alcotts brought to life a similar tension between the Concord transcendentalist focus on spirituality and the abolitionist emphasis on social action in participating in the Underground Railroad. The juxtaposition between honoring our heritage and finding new and creative ways to face a changing world was reflected in the design features of the new UUA headquarters, which houses elements from the original Beacon Hill building in a reconfigured, re-imagined context. And the broadening of the traditions included in Unitarian Universalism was reflected in the contrast between a congregation using the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (with references to the trinity omitted) and a congregation enjoined to experience the “spice” of honoring the Sabbath (drawing on Jewish tradition). All of it, all these juxtapositions, brought to life for me what it means to call Unitarian Universalism a living tradition.
Reflection by Erin Manion
As freshmen in high school, there is so much stress, work, and pressure that is immediately put on our shoulders as we walk through our high school doors. However, being a part of this congregation and having something as wonderful as youth group and Coming of Age, my Sunday nights are always filled with joy, relaxation, love and friendship.
A few weeks ago, all of the freshmen in youth group joined together to go to one of the most amazing cities in the country: Boston, MA. Not all of us were fully comfortable with each other yet, and at first it was a little awkward, I’ll admit. Shortly after, though, as soon as everyone was on the bus together, laughing and exchanging stories and smiles, it was as if we were already a family. From visiting the new Unitarian Universalist Association headquarters to getting smashed bananas thrown at us by Blue Men, I will always remember spending my weekend with such lovely people in such a lovely city.
One of the most interesting parts of the trip for me was visiting the Arlington Street Church. The church was built in 1861; and coincidentally, our very own UCS was designed after this church. We were also lucky to have a tour guide who doubled as an organist. He played “Ode to Joy” on the bells in the bell tower and we each had a turn ringing the bells! Another great memory was visiting Henry David Thoreau at his hut near Walden Pond. We had a nice little sit-down with him and talked about his life, and soon after, he brought us down to Walden Pond himself.
Overall, the trip was one of the best trips of my life, aside from the banana being thrown at us (although even THAT was pretty cool), and I could not have spent it with better people, because no one else would stand in the middle of a busy sidewalk at 8pm in Concord and sing Christmas carols with me.