A Pilgrim’s Journey

A Pilgrim’s Journey

By Rev. Ed Hardy


“There are works which wait, and which one does not understand for a long time; the reason is that they bring answers to questions that have not yet been raised;  for the question often arrives a terribly long time after the answer.”        ~Oscar Wilde


I grow more and more convinced that answers are easy; while questions are difficult. In reading, Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (Nobel Prize winner in Economics 2002), I discover that the thinking part of the brain (slow) often concedes to the reactive part of the brain (fast).  How disheartening, how dangerous.  How necessary.  Maybe that is why we are so easy to take to war; to bullying our geo-political neighbors, and continuing to oppress black Americans.  What would be the question we might ask that would finally get us to remove our boot from the throat of our black citizens?  Sadly, I don’t know.


Clearly, our first thought might not be our best thought only the first reaction of a brain anxious to preserve energy for survival and restore stasis.


Every answer is an opinion.  For every opinion there are many more.  No answer is eternal and permanent.  We find the ruins of too many empires, the debris of some one or a multitude of answers.  And yet we need to make decisions, take positions, and support choices.


For three years now, I have been listening to various members of First Parish offer their answers and wishes for the future of First Parish in Plymouth – bright people, sincere people, creative people, people of justice and compassion. People I love. Others are new to First Parish and are struggling with that other moving question, “What is a Unitarian Universalist?”  I relish engaging that question; my answer is evolving.  Sometimes I start the answer, “This week. . .” These new people are bright people, sincere people, creative people, people of justice and compassion. People I love.  I, too, have been thinking in search of answers in regards to the future of First Parish in Plymouth.  Every answer I dream, or wish, or think is opposed to someone else’s answer.  Some might even consider my answers ill conceived, brilliant, immature, ‘just what the doctor ordered’.  Niels Bohr, the physicist, said, “Sometimes the opposite of a great truth is another great truth.”


Now we are about to set forth to find the question, a question to point us in the direction of greatest possibility.  This will not be an easy journey.  Much preparation is needed and courage, and patience and perseverance.  Imagine how long the Pilgrims thought about sailing for the New World – what to take; what to leave behind, what is wish and dream and necessary; what is realistic, doable; what will make us better people?  What will make us a better community?  Today and tomorrow?