Love. Revere. Discover. Connect.

November 20, 2011: “The Universe Has No Edges”

Just ask the kids; how to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner by Mrs. Gerahty’s Kindergarten class. Note- Mrs. Geraghty will not be responsible for medical bills resulting from use of her cookbook.
Russell – Turkey

You cut the turkey up and put it in the oven for ten minutes and 300 degrees. You put gravy on it and eat it.
Geremy – Turkey

You buy the turkey and take the paper off. Then you put it in the refrigerator and take it back out and cut it with a knife and make sure all the wires are out and take out the neck and heart. Then you put it in a big pan and cook it for half an hour at 80 degrees. Then you invite people over and eat.
Meghan H. – Turkey

You cut it into 16 pieces and then you leave it in the oven for 15 minutes and 4 degrees. You take it out and let it cool and then after 5 minutes, then you eat it.
Danny – Turkey

You put some salt on it to make it taste good. Then you put it in the oven. Then you cook it for an hour at 5 degrees. Then you eat it.
Moriah – Turkey

First you cut the bones out. Then you put it in the oven for 10 hours at 600 degrees. Then you put it on the table and eat it.
Lauren – Turkey

First you find a turkey and kill it. Cut it open. Put it in a pan. Pour milk in the pan. Put a little chicken with it. Put salsa on it. Take out of pan. Put it on the board. Cut into little pieces. Put on a rack. Put in the oven for 7 minutes at 10 degrees. Take out of the oven and put eensy weensy bit of sugar on it. Put a little more salsa on it. Then you eat it.
Wai – Pumpkin Pie
Get a pumpkin. Cook it. Eat it.

And one Thanksgiving knock-knock joke, but only because it has my first name, Arthur, in it. Ready? “Knock, Knock” “Who’s There?” “Arthur” “Arthur Who?” “Ar-thur any leftovers?”

One of the things I may be remembered for is my long sermon titles; indeed, this homily title may be longer than the actual homily. The first part I actually stole from PBS, the Unitarian Universalist Religious Channel; it’s actually one of their mottoes, along with a great picture from the Hubbell telescope and one of those facts of science that is designed to make one think and to help us realize that the universe is infinite; that’s why there is no edge, nor is there a center. It makes one feel adrift in space.

Think about that for a minute. In fact, I want to argue that there is a center to the universe and that further I want to argue that I AM THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE! But lest you think that makes me a bit conceited, so are you the center of the universe, and I am thankful that I have hands to hold so that I am NOT adrift in space, and so that I know that I am the center of the universe, and therefore anyone who is holding my hand is part of that center, so just for a minute, let’s all hold hands, with optional not holding hands of course, perhaps touching another person’s arm, but just so we’re somehow connected. As we touch, let us be thankful that we gather this morning in this place within this huge universe, knowing that the love that is surrounding us is the strength that we need to live in this world and know we are never alone unless we choose to be.

Ok, let’s stop touching now, because it’s not easy for some people.

Thanksgiving may be a psychological holiday, as so many holy days are, to make us think about our lives and express deep appreciation to those people who have helped us become who we are becoming, who have given us life, for instance, who have raised us, taught us, encouraged us, loved us, listened to us. When I think of Thanksgiving, I think not of church, but of the beloved family thanksgiving dinner of my childhood. Oh, some of those folks who were around the table were dysfunctional, some around our tables may have been cruel or abusive, then let us give thanks for what saved us from them, then. Perhaps it was something within us who helped us survive despite our family. I am thankful that my family Thanksgivings were filled with joy and love. But I am also thankful that my life has turned out the way it has, and I must have had something to do with that.

New Hampshire Thanksgiving
It is a dream of long gone times, warmly haunted by dead loved ones. A crisp, no, downright cold, New England November. Leaves spent, long gone, sometimes even snow-covered, turning to mulch. Windswept bare-branched New Hampshire Thanksgiving of my childhood at Nana’s house on the hill by the fire station.

Two grandmothers bustle around two aunts, a couple of cousins, one mother, two sisters-a kitchen full of food preparation and females, obviously pre liberation.

The menfolk sit in the Front Room, smoke, and talk; joke, smoke, and talk some more; I don’t understand anything they’re saying. The man talk is boring, and I feel like an outsider because I like to be in the kitchen, sometimes even helping; perhaps I was an early feminist, or was it just the lure of food?

The kitchen table and every available inch of counter space different workspaces for the women of many generations food like you wouldn’t believe. Some religions fast on their holy days; we do the opposite, we religiously stuff the turkey and ourselves. As appetizers – Celery, Carrot sticks, nuts, and my favorite-Dates, stuffed with peanut butter, rolled in confectionery sugar. Any wonder I’m too heavy? The food was too good!

Forget church; That was only for Sunday; besides- my uncle, my mother’s brother, was an atheist and my mother’s sister hated churches. Thanksgiving is what we did at Nana’s house with family and aunts, uncles, and cousins; we showed our thanks by eating well and much! We lived our thanks by loving one another, by eating and laughing together- the holy idea of communion-love feast-breaking bread; we did that without any mumbo-jumbo or hard to believe miracles. After all, New Hampshire people always thought of those Massachusetts pilgrims as summer tourists, to tax. There was the holy incense of the baking turkey and the stuffing, the sacred mashing of the potatoes and summer squash, the offering of the pleasing sweet yellow aroma of parsnips and the orangeness of carrots; the hissing of the pressure cooker telling that the onions were done, and the serving of the vegetables-creamed corn, peas, yellow and green beans, warm rolls, and of course the mystery of the giblet gravy, ask your mother what giblets are!

And for desert, for which I was always most thankful; there were cakes and cookies, maybe even hot mystery pudding with whipped cream, and as mandatory Thanksgiving dessert there were pies- oh were there pies! Steaming Apple pie with cheese or a la mode; and pumpkin or squash with whipped cream or ice cream, mincemeat pie which Grammy Severance made I think just for her son, my father; because, to my knowledge, no one but him even liked it! And maybe blueberry or cherry; Vanilla Ice Cream over any hot pie melts in my memory still the unsurpassable pies or cookies or donuts my Grammy Severance could make.

Is it that no one has made a pie as good as her since, or is it that no one can make a pie in the olfactory memory of my childhood again?
It is not just the food for which I am grateful, but for the love of a family, of generations and relative which nurtured me to love as well; for them all- both alive and dead; both the family of my childhood and my family of marriage; I give deep and profound thanks.

As I get ready to begin a new journey to a new church I am deeply thankful for having been your minister for these last four plus years. Thank you for allowing me into your hearts and being apart of your beloved community; I am thankful for having had these hands to hold over this time, and if I have to let them go now, to begin a new journey, know that I will hold them and all of you in my heart. One door closes, another opens; life is sometimes mystery and it may not be until much later, if ever, that we find out why things happen as they do. We each have our parts, of course, and so does mystery, chance, and the old, favorite story of mine-God luck, bad luck, who knows, it’s too soon to tell!

Without hands to hold, we too have no center, for I believe it is the heart which is at our center, and it is the holding of the hands which is one way to show the feeling of our heart. I have used the Spanish phrase, Abrazo a Todos in my closing after the sermon is over; it means, “hugs all around.” I am thankful for hands to hold and hearts to love and the people in my past who have made such a difference in my life, and for the people in this church who will soon be part of that past.

Amen, Peace, Shalom, (Peace in Hebrew), Assalaamu Alaikum (may Peace be upon you in Arabic), Abrazos a todos (Hugs all around) Namaste, (A Hindu greeting the divinity within you) Blessed Be, and let me add one more blessing that I adapted from the Spanish long before I went in to ministry. “Vaya con Dios” is Spanish for Good-bye, but literally is “Go with God,” SO I adapted it to say “Vaya Con Su Dios,” “Go with your idea or interpretation of God.”