Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, May 20, 2017 - Don’t Knock the Hometown
Today I graduate from seminary. A Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Global Interreligious Leadership from Andover Newton Theological School. To be honest, I did it for my hometown. I couldn’t stop myself.
Of course there are many reasons. I’ve been moving toward it my entire life. Ever since trying to adopt my first frog. In my hometown I found that my efforts are able to be put to best use. Everyone has their sphere in which they best operate. For some it is their family unit, for others it is as CEO of a major corporation. Mine is the hometown level.
I’ve lived in the big cities. I loved them. Moving home was not giving up, but giving over. I felt the pull and came. That was over seventeen years ago. This city has taught me practically everything I know.
I have grown up from one end of Main Street to the other. Walking the length, I can show you block by block the businesses and institutions that have taught me to speak, to sing, and to serve. I am compelled to return the favor.
I have dedicated myself to this community and I graduate from seminary dedicating my degrees to it. May the world someday model the way this city has raised me.
So what’s the point? It’s this: Communities can do this on purpose.
Some from these parts may remember a true sparkle of a woman named Janet Cragin. She was a leading lady and eventual grand dame of the Stratton Players. She “discovered” me when I was seventeen years old along with two classmates. From the high school stage she beckoned us to the iconic community theatre, sweeping us into the chorus of a production therein. I say this with all appropriately dramatic wording. She was a wonder from whom I learned so much. I attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts because she went there. I wear the same Converse lowtops as she in part-honor to this day.
So many people did for me what Janet did. Organizations and businesses, too. The local United Way’s Community Builders fellowship program gave me two years of excellent education. The library, the martini lounge, the Rotary clubs, even the senior center has given me opportunities to learn and try different ways of bringing people together.
Workers Credit Union, for instance, has done everything from sponsoring my jazz brunches and teaching me leadership, to its employees giving me construction jobs in their own homes to help support me while I practiced my calling to serve the community.
So now I have continued my journey up Main Street to bring that deep calling and years of experimentation and gratitude to the little office with the comfy red chair at First Parish Church.
Communities must make it a part of their culture to notice and cultivate early on those who are driven to serve and create. In all sectors, including science as well as the arts and philosophy. We need more of them all in this world. Let’s mentor them on purpose. Let’s connect them with opportunities. Empower them. Encourage them. Educate them. Get other communities to do the same. We can save this world if every hometown does what Fitchburg, Massachusetts has done for me.
Posted by Wil Darcangelo at 10:31 AM