By Sue Bencuya
In the fall of 1989, I was a first-time mom and also, suddenly, a full-time resident of the town of Franklin, which up until then was someplace I just came home to sleep after working in Boston. My husband was at work all day. My memories are of sitting by the window in the evening with the baby in my arms, watching for the headlights in the driveway. I joked about being “the prisoner of Franklin.”
Um, I was a hot mess, and not at all sure about my new status.
Meanwhile, the relatives were asking about whether we were going to baptize this child, or give her some form of spiritual legitimacy, as it were. As the child of a Catholic mom and a Jewish dad from a Muslim country, I was not interested in signing up for a monolithic God experience. I had, however, heard about Unitarians, and in the spirit of keeping peace in our families, I agreed to make a phone call to this Reverend Carol Rosine person.
“I’m a Frisbyterian,” I said. “I believe that when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can’t get it down.” (This was my test. If she laughed, I was going to talk with her for real.)
Carol laughed. She did better than that. She came over to my house and sat on the couch with me and baby Rachel. Lord, I was dying for somebody to talk to. The following Sunday, I sidled into Marvin Chapel and sat behind Glenn Walker. I remember this because, among other things, something sad was discussed when candles were lit on that Sunday, and I noticed Glenn was listening with tears in his eyes. I was frankly amazed at the idea of candles-first of all, that people could speak so intimately about their lives, and be confident that they would be heard… and second, that this tall, lanky guy did not try to hide his emotional response.
Glenn was one of the first people I ever sang with at FUSF. At that time, my guitar was hiding in a closet in my house, and I hadn’t played it for many years. True to form, Carol somehow found out that I had once been a musician of sorts. Not so long afterwards, I showed up for a choir rehearsal. Not so long afterwards, I got my guitar out again. And not so long afterwards, I agreed to sit on the FUSF board as the clerk.
In the meantime… I gained a home town. I found friends who could answer some of my parenting questions. I found a place I could go to on Sundays and just sit and be quiet for an hour, and think about things. As the years went by, FUSF uplifted my soul, and sometimes broke my heart. I found people to love, and to lose. When I became president a few years ago, one of the things that pleased me the most was that I saw myself as part of a continuum of stewards and caretakers of a community that has existed for 160 years. I am part of its history now, and this church is so very much a part of my own history as well.
I want to remind everyone who has followed the plight of those Catholic parishioners at that church in Scituate-the one that has been closed down by the Mother Church. They, too, thought of that church as theirs. The difference is that in our case, we are the only people who decide whether our church stands or falls. Our joy is that we truly own this spiritual home, and no one but us can take it away from us.
That’s why a little skin in the game is important. The more you put in, the more you are going to get out. Money isn’t just a way to keep FUSF alive-it’s a way to guarantee that all of us care what happens here in our home, our building, our community.
As Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”