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Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

A Beacon of Light in the Northwoods


Be The One - By The Rev Ms Denise D Tracy

Audio Recording Of Service

Words for Meditation

“In a world where we can be anything, be kind.” Mr Rogers


Love by Mother Teresa

Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor…Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.

Love: The One Creative Force by Eric Butterworth

A college professor had his sociology class go into the Baltimore slums to get the case histories of 200 young boys. They were asked to write an evaluation of each boy’s future. In every case the students wrote, “This boy hasn’t got a chance.” Twenty-five years later another sociology professor came across the earlier study. He had his students follow up on the project to see what had happened to these boys. With the exception of 20 boys who had moved away or died, the students learned that 176 of the remaining 180 had achieved more than ordinary success as lawyers, doctors and businessmen.

The professor was astounded and decided to pursue the matter further. Fortunately, all the men were in the area ad he was able to ask each one, “How do you account for

your success?” In each case the reply came with feeling, “There was a teacher.”

The teacher was still alive, so he sought her out and asked the old but still alert lady what magic formula she used to pull these boys out of the slums into successful achievement.

The teacher’s eyes sparkled and her lips broke into a gentle smile. “It’s really very simple,” she said. “I loved those boys.”

Be The One

My eighth grade English teacher was a woman named Mrs Keppel. I had spent much of the year before, in seventh grade dealing with a severe and life threatening kidney illness. I had spent much time in the hospital. My medication dried out my lips, so I licked them and as a result I had a big red chapped ring around them. My illness was expensive. My parents had to save money. My eyeglasses were an “On Sale” pair. Bright blue tear drop lenses with rhinestones in the corners. I was embarrassed by both my red mouth and my blue eye glasses. In class I sat low in my chair. I hid behind my books. I did not ask questions.

One day after class Mrs Keppel asked me to come in at the end of the day. I thought I was in trouble and dreaded having to tell my parents what I had done wrong. My Mother and Father were old school..."Get in trouble at school, twice in trouble at home." I had heard this phrase many times and I had avoided trouble because my parents had enough on their plates with my illness.

So with a heavy heart I went into Mrs Keppel's room. I sat in the chair next to her desk and waited in fear. She said, "Why don't you speak up in class? You have many ideas and I would like to hear them." I was stunned. She wanted to hear my ideas. I wasn't in trouble. We began to talk. Mrs Keppel had about 30 plants across a ledge in her room. She asked me to stay after school once a week and water, prune and care for these plants. While we gardened each week, we talked. She listened to me. She gave me the best present I have ever received...a tube of chapstick. She explained how it could help me with my chapped lips. To this day, I have chapstick in my pockets, my purses, my desk drawer, and in my car.

Mrs Keppel gave confidence to an awkward girl. At the end of my eighth grade year, she encouraged me to enter a public speaking contest. I did not win. She said, "You did not project beyond the second row. You will do better next year." I did. In the ninth grade I won that contest. Mrs Keppel gave me both the velvet and sandpaper of good relationships. Mrs Keppel changed my life. When her husband was appointed to the Kennedy Administration's Education Department which required that she move to Washington D.C., she gave me a Chinese Jade plant which we had cared for together. A decade later, when I went to Theological School to pursue my degree in Ministry, I took that plant with me as a witness to Mrs Keppel's faith in me.

I never saw Mrs Keppel again. I was changed by her respect. I was changed by her nurturing faith in me. I have tried to see people I work with in the same way Mrs Keppel saw me...as creatures who need nurture. She changed my life forever.

Mrs Keppel was my “One”. What I mean by her being my “One”…is quite simply…she cared enough about me to encourage me, by doing this, she changed my life. I am sure she did not set out to change my life, but by who and how she was, she changed how I saw myself and how I saw my world.

I have a friend who is a therapist. She told me a story that has changed how I see my relationship with Mrs Keppel. My friend has a client who is about age 40. This woman came from a devastating background. Her parents were violent alcoholics and drug users. They beat on each other and on their children. The neighbors often called the Police, who came to the house, arrested the parents, put the kids in foster care etc, etc. On one of these occasions, when this woman was in her early teens, the police were taking away her parents, she was sitting on the stairs, looking down on the scene, viewing it all between the spindles of the staircase. As the Officer was leaving the house, he stopped, looked at her sitting on the stairs and said, “You know you don’t have to grow up to have this kind of life. You can make different choices.” Then he left. She never saw him again.

This Officer may never have known it, but he changed this teenager’s life. His words resonated deep in her being. She clung to his words. He was her “One”. He gave her a lifeline. She heard and held onto his words for years. When she had choices to make she heard his words and they directed her on a path free of repeating generational destruction. She is in her 40’s now. She is in therapy. She credits these two sentences, “You know you don’t have to grow up to have this kind of life. You can make different choices.” as saving her life, keeping her from taking the path that could have led to a life like her parents.

We think that it takes millions of dollars or years of work to offer children, youth and adults a new vision. But in reality, all it takes is one person. It doesn’t take hours either. It can take just a few moments. “You know you don’t have to grow up to have this kind of life. You can make different choices.” Someone caring enough to give a lifeline, to love and speak loving truth and kindness, can save and or change a life forever.

I have a question for you. Mrs Keppel was my “One”. Do you have a “One”? If so, who has been your “One”? Is there someone who pointed you in a direction, someone who showed you something about life or yourself that shone a light on your life or your path in a different way? Often the person is a teacher, it could be a friend, a mentor, an Aunt or Uncle, a minister, a police officer, counselor or friend. Grandparents can be the “One”. How many of you have a person, you credit as being your “One”? Think about how you are different because of this person. Think of you, before and then after their influence. Remember and celebrate the process of becoming.

But there is another part to this…the first part is being the recipient of inspiration from “The One”. The second part is being “The One”. We live in a complex world. There are children and youth and adults in our lives…how are we in relationship with them so that they will see the world and themselves differently because they knew us?

There are children in this church, in your neighborhood, somewhere in your life…and being their “One” is how we can be a gift to the world. There are adults around us who need us to be their “One.” The reality is being the “One”, can happen every day. Being the “One” can become a way of being, a philosophy, even a religion.

Jesus, the Buddha, Confucius, Mother Teresa, Mother Jones, we remember them because they behaved in new and confusing ways that pointed out a different path for living life. I think most of the time being the “One” is invisible. Like the very important and inspiring leaders in the world, Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, Gloria Steinem, these folks go about their days and they may never know, much of the time if they were or are making a difference. They have all inspired us and we know that they have been the “One” for someone. Many someone’s…We do not have to be famous or have power to have a positive impact on others.

Recently, I was watching America’s Got Talent. A youth choir from Detroit was performing. As the kids walked on stage, The M/C of the show, Terry Crews, said, “I am from Flint, Mi. I was just like these kids.” The choir director was obviously loved and respected by “his” kids. As this mostly black youth choir performed, they brought down the house. Terry Crews went on to say, “I was like you. I am here because someone believed in me. Everybody has someone”…and pointing to the choir members he said to them, pointing to their Choir Director, …”All it takes is one person to believe in a young man or young woman for them to reach their dreams, you are that person.” He told them their choir Director was their “One”. Then Terry went down and pressed the golden buzzer…in that moment Terry Crews became the “One” of every member of that choir as well as their Director. As the golden pieces of paper floated from the sky, blanketing the children, it was the most perfect symbol of simultaneously, seeing and being the “One.”

So, I would encourage us to recognize those who have been the “One” in our lives and then to do our best to be the “One” for others. Being the “One” can be as simple as being kind to a stranger, saying hello to people as we move through each day, finding encouraging words when we see someone struggling, thanking someone for an every day action…Most of us want to make a difference in the world. What we need to realize is that by being who we are and connecting to people around us, this may make the largest difference we can possibly make in our world. Thank the “One” in your life by being the “One” whenever possible. This makes every day a powerful, inspiring and an endless adventure-- worth living!


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