More than 20 years ago, there was a weekly series on TV called “Northern Exposure.” It was about a physician who had his medical school education paid for by the state of Alaska in exchange for his commitment to practice medicine in Alaska after finishing Med school. The residents of the town where he came to provide medical care were a quirky, creative mix of native Alaskans and those who had fled the lower 48 for a less mainstream and more close-to-the-bone lifestyle. The way they formed and held community fascinated me. There was something so refreshing, so unfiltered, so in-the-moment about the individuals and their ways of being.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this fictional Alaskan community in the midst of this intense winter we’ve been having. I’ve felt cooped up and am battling a big case of cabin fever. What I’m remembering and cherishing are the ways they marked time; they ways they celebrated life; they ways they made it through the long, dark days of winter.
There were the town meetings (maybe 50 people at most) where everyone spoke up and had an opinion; there was the festival of the Northern Lights when people from outside the community would throng to town for intimate relations; there was the Raven Festival – their mix of Christmas and Native Alaskan tradition; there was the Eskimo Indians’ Thanksgiving celebration as “The Day of the Dead,” where they throw tomatoes at white people; there was the piano fling – an artistic expression of the local disk jockey/spiritual leader/artist. And there was The Brick – the local watering hole and restaurant where everyone would show up at one time or another to share news, gossip, have a drink and some home-cooked food, and offer on-the-spot advice, wisdom, and companionship.
I’ve been wishing for a little Northern Exposure these days. I’ve been longing for that gathering place; for festivals shared by everyone, especially as they can laugh and grieve together; for a communal celebration of life and connection. I feel like, in the midst of all this winter, we would be blessed by some close-to-the-bone conversations and connections; some quirky art expressions; and some places to gather and celebrate being alive.
“The Voice That’s Within: Experiencing the presence of the Holy through music and song”
What is it like to be embraced by Holy Love? How do we know when that is happening? Come and gather in worshiping community to touch into the Voice within – your voice, the voice of the community, the voice of Holy Love.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
10:00 a.m. Worship
Unitarian Universalist Society, Gardner, MA