In the Interim: Joy and Woe, Woven Fine

In his writing, “Auguries of Innocence,” the poet William Blake (1757-1827) wrote,

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine,
Under every grief and pine,
Runs a joy with silken twine.
It is right it should be so,
We were made for joy and woe,
And when this we rightly know,
Through the world we safely go.

This week, as the calendar pushes us into lighting candles for Hanukkah, with the smell of latkes frying, and branches of evergreen grace the mantle to make way for the winter solstice, I carry with me the reality of loss and sadness.

Denny Davidoff, my beloved friend and mentor who served Unitarian Universalism as Moderator, Chair of the General Assembly Planning Committee, President of the UU Womens Federation, and in so many other roles I can’t possibly name them, died on December 7 following a noble struggle with cancer.  As I wrote on my Facebook page, with the exception of my father, no person has had a greater influence on my life and my calling than Denny.  I miss her beyond words, and I will carry this with me, probably, forever.

And we learned of the death of Harrison Durant, a bright, engaging, delightful young adult who was part of the Star Island kitchen crew, a friend of my younger daughter, Abby and of many Follen young adults as well.  Harrison, who was in enough emotional pain that he ended his life, was beloved by his family and his many friends, and we all mourn his passing – gone far too soon.

And yet – and yet…we carry on our traditions, knowing that they — as with our lives — are part of the wheel that turns, moving us from celebration to mourning, from the end of one life to the beginning of another.  Blake, it seems to me, had it right, understanding that “under every grief and pine, runs a joy with silken twine.”

At your celebrations this year, at your table and your family gatherings, I hope that you will take time to remember those no longer here:  their enduring gifts to this world and to you as individuals and families.  “Si Momentum Requiris, Circumspice”, wrote Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723).  “If you seek his monument, look around”:  it is in our comings and our goings, the spirit we carry forward, that those who have gone, remain.  Let us use this time of the year to celebrate them and honor them in our rituals and our gladness.


Deborah Weiner
Interim Director of Religious Education