Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee

When I was in the 6th grade, my Mom and I started reading Shakespeare together. I fell in love with Puck, the mischievous fairy who complicates things and makes people laugh. Reading Shakespeare felt like learning a new language, and I remember how exciting it was when the rhythm of the words finally started to make sense to me. I liked Puck so much because I was so delighted when I was able to understand the humor—it felt like being in on an inside joke.

I learned aspects of my character from my mother this way, through our shared love for literature, but also through witnessing and experiencing her dedication to do hard things and to show up for the people she loved. I also learned aspects of my character from my father at the same time as he teased us about reading Shakespeare: have a sense of humor about life, and connect with the people you love even across difference. This was one of many times I learned aspects of my character from books and stories. I learned who I wanted to be and who I didn’t want to be; how I wanted to act and how I didn’t want to act.

Where have you learned various aspects of your character? Who has influenced you, either as someone you wanted to be like, or someone you didn’t? In this July of change and societal reckoning, may you have the chance to remember who you want to be in this world. What character are you in this larger unfolding story? How did you come to be? Who are you becoming?

With love,



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