Turning Points

Laura K. Secor

image of person in yellow raincoat sitting up high, looking down at a curvy mountain road

Hello my friends,

How different the landscape appears, compared to this time a month ago!  Last month I wrote about the most abstract of Buddhist principles, encouraging everyone to set aside for a few minutes their involvement in the world.  This month, involvement in the world feels crucial.  A hundred spotlights are shining on America’s sickness of racial inequality, and we are all looking at the vividly exposed tears in society.

Loss of Vision by Rev. Joseph Boyd

     Consider this: Turning points are rare opportunities. The dissolution of our deeply held beliefs, the questioning of our basic fundamental thrust through life, the doubt that we are instilled with suddenly and profoundly is not something we would wish on anyone. These are all the characteristics of disillusionment. Disillusionment is not a rare occurrence. It happens to all of us at some point, and it can occur at every stage of life. The disillusionment of teenagers when they discover their parents are people and that society is not always just or fair, the disillusionment of those in their twenties when the job market is not kind and the future looks uncertain, the disillusionment of middle age when the life you’ve built does not feel like the life you hoped for, at least not completely, the disillusionment of later years when current demands and circumstances cause you to question everything you’ve put faith in. This list is only scratching the surface. On top of these generalizations we will most certainly encounter the particular disillusionment of unexpected emptiness or sense of loss, the particular and sudden feeling of disorientation and a loss of direction.

     This is one of the most difficult moments, and one of the most profound. It can give birth to depression and a feeling of being stuck. It can also be a turning point.

     There are people gathering in living rooms, gathering in churches, gathering in bars and coffee shops, all asking the same question: Where do we go from here?

Here is my request.  I would like to ask all of you, my fellow UUCW congregants, to recommend any short writings by people of color, that might appeal to teenagers.  Why, you wonder, is this my ask?  What strange mix of specificity and generality!  After my own weeks of soul-searching, I’ve decided that the way I can help, my role,  is to teach writing to the students at Worcester South High.  My daughter is a student there, and when I talked to her, she agreed that there are many students, Black, and Hispanic and maybe from other cultures too, who lack the advantages I have, and would like the chance to improve their writing.  After all, if I help them find their own power to express their voices more clearly, more vividly, that will have an expanding effect in their communities.  So much change can be brought about through the written word.  And they will be the authors of their own vision.

As part of these tutoring sessions or workshops, I want to give the students examples of writing by people like them.  I want short fiction, essays, speeches, poems, whatever form of writing you may have come across that would give these students the experience of reading work by people like them.

Lessons in Leadership by Rev. Anthony David

     We’ve got to be there when the moment comes. So much is at stake in how we use our influence. And it’s not always a matter of responding to crisis. Parker Palmer puts it this way: “I lead by word and deed simply because I am here doing what I do. If you are here, doing what you do, then you also exercise leadership of some sort.” Even just to smile across the room at someone you know-just to acknowledge their existence-can be a kind of leadership, an exercise of influence that is truly important. Just by smiling across the room, you are living into a larger vision of a community that strengthens and encourages. Someone was talking about this just the other day-how horrible and withering it feels to notice someone looking at you but they don’t smile, they don’t acknowledge your existence…. Leadership is about making the vision real, in acts both big and small. You see a piece of trash on the floor, and you pick it up even if you aren’t the sexton, even if you aren’t part of the paid staff, even if you hear a voice in your head that says, “Ahh, …surely someone else will do it.” No. YOU do it, and as you do it, your simple act of leadership is helping to create the Beloved Community vision that says, “We are all in this together. It’s up to all of us. Pull together and not apart. Everyone chip in. The ministry here involves every friend, every member, because that’s what it takes to live out our mission of changing lives. That’s what it takes.

Ways to Help Rev. Aaron Payson

wordle shaped in heart with DONATE as theme

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