This week, we offer another personal story, this time from Peggy Richards. This is based on a note she
posted to Facebook back in 2009, which she shared with our community.
She was gracious enough to allow us to publish it here to share with you.
There is a haven in our midst. It is accepting of all religions and even of those, like me, with no conventional religion.
I had met some members when I was volunteering for Obama in Greenport, Long Island, NY. I did some internet research and liked what I saw. I could not believe that I had never found this place before. It is a hidden gem.
I had yearned for the community of a ‘church’ but did not hold the same beliefs as others in any other church and find it hard to be hypocritical, even for good, and so, I remained alone. I was so filled with joy in November, 2008 after the election, and needed to be around good people, so the Sunday after Election Day, I went to the First Universalist Church of Southold.
The people made me feel welcome. It seemed the Reverend spoke directly to me. The sanctuary was beautiful and peaceful and the music was wonderful. I found that the smallest deeds elicited great gratitude. There were opportunities to do good works without jumping in with both feet. It is a Unitarian Universalist congregation whose seven principles, in my opinion, boil down to ‘be the best person you can be.’
I attend when I am joyful, knowing my joy will be shared and that I may bring comfort to someone who feels less joyful that day. I attend when I feel low, knowing I will receive unobtrusive support and will likely hear something that will lighten my load. I volunteer when I can. I decline when I can’t. I feel good about either decision. It has grounded me. It has given me a base from which to do all the idealistic things I always meant to do but did not know where to start. It has supported me when I had nothing to give. It requests much but expects nothing.
There have to be others like me, either without a recognized religion, not fully comfortable with the religion you were raised in, or even, happy in your religion but looking for more and to be connected more fully with people of other beliefs. I encourage everyone to stop in to visit the nearest congregation. You will hear uplifting words and lovely music. You will be encouraged to stay and have coffee and snack after services and meet a truly diverse group of interesting people.
My congregation happens to be a tiny congregation with a big communal heart. However, each UU congregation, large, medium or small will find a place for you and yours. Personally, I am ‘good without god’; however, the believers among us are a big part of our dynamism too.