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Laura Bordes-Weinstein

Laura Bordes-Weinstein
Member Reflection

November 1, 2015

It was the year 1953. I was living in Chicago when I received a letter from my boyfriend asking me to make arrangements for us to get married since he had a four-day furlough.

It was ,to say the least, an unexpected request. I went to work, told my boss about the letter and asked him whether Dr. Sparling, then president of Roosevelt College, at the time a small college, could marry us. Call his office, he said and ask him to see you. Dr. Sparling knew me well since the Alumni office, and my office, worked closely together. He also knew Sy.

I went. He told me that, unfortunately, he never applied for the credentials but knew of someone who would be happy to help. I had explained to him that I didn't want just a Justice of the Peace, but a simple spiritual ceremony.

That 's when he called Dr. Homer Jack. Dr. Jack, he told me, is the right

choice. If he can, he will. Dr. Jack was the minister of the Unitarian Church in Evanston, Illinois. A few hours after my visit, Dr. Sparling called to tell me that Dr. Jack would be willing to see me tomorrow, if possible.

At the time, I knew nothing about the Unitarian church. With a friend, I went to see Dr. Jack. All was arranged. I had no obligation towards the church he told me,. No strings attached.

The wedding performed, life went on. I never felt the need nor the desire to join any church. Brought up as a Catholic, with an atheist father I follow my mother's religion with some reluctance . As I grew older, to my mother's chagrin, I never stopped voicing my opinions on the church and they were not too favorable. Once I arrived in the States, religion was put on the back and left there for many years.

Living in Washington D.C. after eight years in Chicago I was often on 16th street, a main avenue, and often passed by the Unitarian Church. What is the Unitarian church, I often asked. But it was a church and the question remained a question till the period of the Civil Rights unrest when a Unitarian Church minister was killed in Alabama. A memorial was planned. I attended . I was moved to tears listening to what was being said about the dedication of Dr. Reed towards the underprivileged. The years went by. Often I felt that I was maybe depriving my children by not giving any religious foundation. But I really didn't have it in my heart.

Religion was not my cup of tea.

Fast forward. We moved to Levittown where our backyard neighbors , I found out were members of a Unitarian Fellowship. They invited me to come to a Sunday service, I went. Unfortunately I met a member who, hearing that I was from Haiti, rushed to tell me about the disease the caught there. Haiti was, after all my native country. I was hurt by her insensivity and never went back to the Fellowship.

Feeling too often that something was missing to my life, I was looking, I was searching. One Sunday, I ran into a relatively new acquaintance at a store. That was Dorothy Wilkins.. She told me that she had just heard Dr. Homer Jack at the Unitarian Fellowship where he spoke about his trip to Russia. Dr. Jack, I wished I had known. He married Sy and me. I told her. She told me that Dr. Jack was coming back in six weeks and that she would call me. Which she did.

I went that Sunday, and to my surprise, met Sonya Claybourne, Myrtle Johns (now deceased) both members of the Levittown Artists Association and some other people I knew well. They were happy to see me. There was something warm in the atmosphere. Something silently eloquent and persuasive.. I felt content and invited to come back, I did. and ever since, I have been coming. I had found my niche.

What prompted me to return after my visit ? The warmth of the welcome. No put on. I could feel the sincerity of the people and as I got to know them I realized that we had a lot in common, spoke the same language. Dr. Jack , it seems, has brought me back to where I belonged.

There were circumstances that tied me, emotionally to the Fellowship.

Fifteen years ago, in May 2000, my brother Ary Bordes was assassinated in Haiti. A senseless murder that marked my life. The care, the support that I received from the members of the fellowship gave me the strength to carry on. I was despondent but faithfully continued to go to the group meetings to keep my strength. Sunday became my mental nourishment day. Ary was not only my brother but my closest friend in addition to being a wonderful human being. A physician, also a graduate of Johns Hopkins in Public Health he gave up a financially rewarding medical career as a pediatrician to work with the peasants and ordinary people of his country. His work, his dream, was to introduce and develop a program of birth control and eliminate the high rate of infantile mortality among them. The dream came true with a ten-year grant from the Unitarian Service Committee. One more reason for me to be grateful to the Unitarians.

When my husband Sy died five years ago, the Fellowship was present. I even received lovely hand made cards from the members of Religious Education group. I was touched. To know that so many care gave me strength.

Last but not least were the contributions given by our members to support an orphanage whose building was partly destroyed by the earthquake that ravaged Port-au-Prince and other parts of the country. Members of our Religious Education group worked, organized their own fund drive and raised a substantial amount of money to help. Throughout it all I could feel nothing but admiration for our young people. Initiated to the ills of others and the world, they are already aware of what their contribution can be. We are aware of what it will be. They are part of the new America.

I feel good being a member of the Fellowship. UUFLB is an important part of my life, it is my second family. You are UUFLB.

Laura Bordes-Weinstein
November 1, 2015