On Sabbath / Ways to Help

On Sabbath

Rev. Aaron Payson

Choosing Silence by Kathleen Hirsch

What, I ask myself, do I think I am doing? I, who have never stopped working, never ceased shaping circumstance and opportunity, making and checking off an interminable to-do list, filling as many hours in the day with my work as has been physically possible (and then some), in contact with a large circle of peers?

I cannot write my way out of this crossroad, or not easily. I cannot use words the way I am accustomed to. I need a new language, one that arises from the silence of the heart.

This is not about “falling” silent. It is about choosing silence as the only valid starting point for genuine self-possession. Silence as an antidote to compulsive overactivity. Silence as a standing still. A taking stock. Silence as a posture of listening, until once again I hear the voice within me.

How do women find the right way to be silent, to stand still? In so masterfully filling the script of our times – achievement, autonomy, power, voice – how many of us left our true inner silence at the stage door or back in the rehearsal rooms of our youth? What calls to us from the silence that we have not heard for longer than we care to remember?”

As I reflect on this month’s Touchstones Ministry Theme – Sabbath, and the calendar quickly turning toward Mother’s Day, I want to pause all that I am doing and sit looking at the pictures of my own mother, whose life has been rightly defined by the myriad of ways she touched the hearts of so many. Pictures, like the one used as the worship image this week; pictures that reflect a character, literally, who enjoyed playing with friends, grandchildren and family, in ways that awakened joy. And I also remember her as quietly contemplative, drinking in the melancholy echo of her beloved Loons as they wondered on Merrymeeting Lake. The dance for her between raucous joy and silence bespeaks for me the lesson in Kathleen Hirsch’s words, “How do women find the right way to be silent. . .?”

It makes me think that this year the intangible gift I want give my own beloved on her day is the opportunity to be, without doing. To drink in her loves without having to respond to the siren of “achievement, autonomy, power, voice” that so often beckon her, and so many of us. Indeed, if I had the power, I would gift this to all of the women I know on their day, for all are our mothers. All those who are the blessing and brunt of motherhood in one way or another. What I would give is the space for real sabbath. Time for a deep pause in all their doing. And the time to drink in that gift; the silence that accompanies such moments.

In this time of such upheaval, I am more and more convinced that the greatest challenge we continue to face as a people is the constant need to be doing. What we often miss, I feel, is the wisdom that comes from greeting our own discomfort with silence and the opportunity to greet those parts of ourselves that so often go unattended.

I am mindful that the one of the greatest religious values can only be achieved if we are able to bear witness to our own inner longings, to love our neighbors as we ourselves wish to be loved. That which is the herald in so many religions to the ethic which binds us to each other begins as the still, small voice within that speaks love to us first, “You are my beloved child with whom I am well pleased.”

I pray that each of you, especially those who are preparing to honor and celebrate Mother’s Day, find time for moments of sabbath, that silence which is our teacher, our mother, our solace and our friend. Hear the words of my beloved colleague, now of blessed memory.

The Healing Moment by Rev. Elizabeth Tarbox

I am with the broken stubble of the marsh grass that holds on through the wrecking wind and the burning flood. I am with the grains that mold themselves around everything, accepting even so unworthy a foot as mine, holding and shaping it until it feels that what I don’t know ceases to embarrass me. What I do or don’t do is of no moment now. Now I am here and grateful to be touched, calmed, and healed by the immense pattern of the universe. Reassured, I am called back to my life, to another day.


Ways to Help
Rev. Aaron Payson

People are wondering what they can do in these times. I know I do. How can I help? What can I do that is in line with my values, my financial situation, my desire to stay home yet still help? Here are some places to start:

Start Here at Home – at UUCW
Don’t forget to make your pledge if possible. Or make a gift that can be credited to this fiscal year. We will be dealing with lost rental and fundraising income due to the current gathering restrictions. We need to keep our staff, programs and building running even if we are not together. Go to www.uucworcester.org/donate to make a gift for this year or pledge for next year.

If you are interested in helping members of our Community who are struggling, consider contributing an additional amount to the Minister’s Discretionary Fund. These funds are used to help people with rent, prescription expense and other vital necessities.

Contribute to the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry
There are two ways you can contribute to the Pantry at this time. If you are interested in contributing financially, go to the Loaves & Fishes online donation form.

We are also looking for hygiene supplies that our folks cannot purchase with SNAP. Last month we were able to give a bar of soap to all our clients. If you are able to drop off hygiene supplies, specifically wipes, soap, shampoo, toothpaste and/or deodorant that would be great. The drop-off location is Dianne Mann’s house: 21 Ridgewood Rd. Worcester, MA 01606. There will be a tub at the side porch for any donations. Any questions, contact: Dianne Mann at

Contribute to the Interfaith Hospitality Network Homeless Shelter
IHN is the Shelter that we partner with several times a year. They have many needs right now. This morning they were asking for the hygiene supplies we all need. They, too, have asked for additional money since they are in a position of needing staff to help cover the evening and night shifts that church people were supposed to cover. If you are interested in helping with the IHN Shelter, would like to know what they need, etc. Contact: Robin Mitzcavitch at .

Worcester Mutual Aid
If you are a Facebook user and want to help in specific ways, you may want to get on the Worcester Mutual Aid Facebook Group. There are specific postings here for people who need help. There are a wide variety of questions. Perhaps you will know the answer to a question about unemployment, rental questions, etc. We will all get through this together.

Worcester Mutual Aid Facemask Working Group
We’ve all heard how the people on the front lines do not have enough PPE. There is a large network of sewers out there making masks like crazy. Our own Robin Mitzcavitch is one of them! Perhaps you have fabric, elastic, t-shirts, etc. laying around that you never had time to sew, check into this group or ask Robin how you can help.

It’s tough times folks! Never before have we seen anything like it. I have faith that we will all get through this together. Take care of yourself those around you. If you have any needs, please reach out to me. And, if you have the time and/or money to help others, I encourage you to do that as well.

Rev. Aaron Payson
/ 508-963-5959