By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Northborough – The world news over the past few months has been unbelievably heart wrenching. For the members of the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church’s Living By Heart group, poetry and fellowship is helping to deal with that trauma and pain.
A recent gathering was led by group member Doris Tivnan who noted that the group had been meeting at the church since 2006.
“‘Living By Heart’ is a spiritual practice that was developed over the lifetime of the Reverend Harry Scholefield, minister of San Francisco’s historic Unitarian Church from 1957 to 1975,” Tivnan said. “His spiritual practice encourages us to meditate on culture and words of wisdom.”
The goal of the curriculum is to develop one’s meditation practices which will lead to a living by heart mindset, she said. The curriculum emphasizes the power of poetry to inspire and to become ingrained in one’s thought process.
“As Harry said, ‘Living By Heart’ is taking words into you and letting them live within you,’” she added.
The Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman of the First Unitarian Church of Dallas developed a Living By Heart workbook with Scholefield, who was her mentor. The book consists of 12 chapters, one for each month of the year, with themes such as patience, social justice, gratitude and relationships.
Judith Wright, former pastor of First Parish UU, introduced the curriculum to the church in 2006.
Once a month the members share the poems that they’ve selected that reflect the theme of that specific month. They focus on a different aspect of spiritual growth as prescribed by the curriculum’s twelve chapters.
At their meeting held in August, the congregation received a sampling of the 12 chapters. Included was Chapter 2- The Open Heart: Welcome, which was presented by Tivnan who read a poem by Stanley Kunitz, “The Round.”
Dick Boutilier was accompanied at the meeting by his daughter Nancy who is a published poet. He read his favorite poem, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” by Emily Dickinson.
Lisa Wittemore’s selections were especially poignant. She read “Dedication” by Robert Frost and then part of President John F. Kennedy’s “Last Speech” that the president gave at the dedication of the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College in 1963.
The group meets the first Tuesday of every month from 7:30 – 9 p.m. in the Clara Barton Conference Room in the Parish Hall, 40 Church St. The group, which is open to all, will be taking September off and resume in October.