From the Minister, Fri Nov 16

Religion begins in gratitude. It is the first and most basic spiritual practice and spiritual virtue. The difference between a secular and a religious orientation is not about what entities or supernatural powers do or do not exist – it’s about the attitude we have toward what exists, whatever it is.

Robert Emmons conducted a study in which he asked people to make journal entries once a week. He randomly assigned subjects to one of three groups: the first group listed five things for which they were grateful; the second group listed five hassles or annoyances that week; the third group, the neutral group, listed five events or circumstances that affected them, and they were not told to accentuate the positive or negative aspects of those circumstances.

In the first group, typical items included: The generosity of friends; The right to vote; The God-given gift of determination; That I have learned all that I have learned; Sunset through the clouds; The chance to be alive; My in-laws live only ten minutes away.

In the second group, typical items included: Hard to find parking; Messy kitchen no one will clean; Finances depleting quickly; No money for gas; Our house smells like manure; Burned my macaroni and cheese; Did favor for friend who didn’t appreciate it; My in-laws live only ten minutes away.

Emmons also asked subject to give an answer each week to two questions. One, rate how you feel about your life as a whole during the last week, from -3 (“terrible”) to +3 (“delighted”) Two, rate your expectations for the upcoming week, from -3 (“pessimistic, expect the worst”) to +3 (“optimistic, expect the best”).

At the beginning of the ten-week study period, the three groups were about the same in terms of how they felt about their life as a whole and what they expected for the upcoming week: about the same range of responses and about the same average response. By the end of the ten weeks, however, the gratitude group was scoring much higher on both how they felt about their life as a whole and on what they expected out of the upcoming week than either the hassles group or the neutral group.

It was remarkable, reports Emmons, how much difference it made to take just a couple minutes once a week to list five things one is grateful for.

Yours thankfully,

The Liberal Pulpit /New:
Index of past sermons: HERE. Index of other reflections: HERE.
Videos of sermons are on the Liberal Pulpit Youtube Channel: HERE

Practice of the Week: Everyday Relationships /Might Be Your Thing. It's easy to see the sacred in the stars at night or in the emotion of a great Sunday service. But how about in your most damp and oozy moments of parenting toddlers? Or in your angriest moments of conflict with a partner? There. Right there is the sacred. Our everyday relationships are not automatically a spiritual practice -- but we can make them be a spiritual practice. READ MORE.
Your Moment of Zen: Giving /We hear from Grouse today. We haven't heard from Grouse since #44, when she was asking about the good of practice, given that even long-time students and some teachers act selfishly and cause dissension in the community.

Grouse refers to an exchange between Mole and Raven in #32: Mole asked, "I'm wondering what happens at the point of death." Raven sat silently a while, and then said, "I give away my belongings."

Those things that are left -- after giving away belongings, and after death -- those things are your self, you know.

Grouse spoke up at a gathering and asked, "Mole said that a while back you said that you give away your belongings when you die. I've been brooding about this, but it still isn't clear to me."
Raven said, "What isn't clear?"
Grouse said, "Is there anything left?"
Raven said, "Oh, lots: the moon, the wind, the crickets."
The Long and the Short of It

Belongings belengthen.
What I belong to and
What belongs to me,
Fix my placement,
Post grief-tinged desires,
And stretch me long between.

Moon, wind, and crickets
Draw me up short again.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Zen at CUUC: Sat Nov 17

Everyday Relationships

Practice of the Week
Everyday Relationships

Category: MIGHT BE YOUR THING: These practices are not for everyone -- but one of them may be just the thing for you! Any of these might also be, for you, in the "Occasional" category, but are listed here because they are good candidates for being a central practice.

from Jane Ellen Mauldin, "Everyday Relationships," in Everyday Spiritual Practice, abridged and adapted.

It's easy to see the sacred in the stars at night or in the emotion of a great Sunday service. But how about in your most damp and oozy moments of parenting toddlers? Or in your angriest moments of conflict with a partner? There. Right there is the sacred. Our everyday relationships are not automatically a spiritual practice -- but we can make them be a spiritual practice.

In college, I came to picture the spiritual path as involving extensive stillness, quiet, and meditation. My route to enlightenment, however, took a big detour into family responsibilities. I am so busy making school lunches, doing laundry, driving to boy scouts and dance lessons – and working full time outside the home -- that my longed-for hour of daily meditation is still just a pipe dream.

With much trial and error, I've developed a spiritual practice of everyday relationships, to satisfy my hunger for spiritual growth in the relationships to which I'm deeply committed. My method has four parts.


It's easy to gulp down the coffee in the morning with a quick look at the newspaper and an almost peremptory "howdy" to your partner or spouse across the table. This doesn't qualify as awareness! Take a long look at your sweetie, at least once before you or they run out the door. Do the same for the other people you care for -- your parent, or child, or even yourself. Really look at these people. Know that they are there. Know that you are near them.

If we are lucky, we might sometimes get our loved one's awareness, too. I was barreling down the highway in my minivan not long ago, five minutes late as always. Suddenly, my twelve-year-old beside me stopped humming along to the radio and burst out: “Look, mom!” He pointed to the sky above us. The setting sun, behind a cloud, was streaming radiant pink, blue, and gold rays of light in every direction. The color filled the sky as if the sun, behind the cloud, had intensified its usual brilliance tenfold. "Oh, mom," said my awed son, "I don't think I will ever forget this!" His awareness focused mine. I don't think that I will ever forget it, either.


Appreciate the present moment. Anyone who has ever lived with a baby knows that they are very good at calling us to live in the present moment. Anyone who has cared for an ill family member, or a parent fading with Alzheimer's, knows that the present moment is very precious and is truly the only reality we have. Now. Here.

Appreciation requires slowing down. If we rush through the task of wiping, feeding, assisting, then we miss the moment and we miss being alive during that time.

Treating everyday relationships as a spiritual practice requires seeing the holy in those relationships right in the middle of the busy-ness and messiness. Not long ago during a rainy winter morning at the doctor's office, with the ancient magazines and a blaring TV, my young children begged to read books and chew on them, respectively. They coughed enticingly into my face. I was overstimulated and anxious and impatient with waiting. Then I realized/remembered that living in the moment means THIS moment. I didn’t like being in that moment, on the vinyl waiting room chair, sneezing and wiping runny noses, but there was holiness there, whether I liked it or not. The spiritual task is to notice the holy in every moment.
“Jesus said, ‘Split the wood and you shall find me. Lift the stone and there I am.’ (Gospel of Thomas 77)

A spiritual practice of everyday relationships, as spiritual practices generally do, helps us wean ourselves from attachments.

For example, I am very attached to my expert idea of what kind of person I want my husband to be. He ought to think like me, act like me, and always come to the same logical conclusions that I do. I am, of course, often disappointed. When I expect my husband to live up to my ideal of him, I get a pretty good understanding of how attachment is the source of suffering. If we keep hoping that reality and real people will fit our idealized standards, we will always be disappointed. If I can let go of my attachment to what I want my husband to be and do, I move toward unconditional love. And unconditional love -- compassion, without expectations or attachment -- is, many teachers say, both source and result of spiritual growth.


Every spiritual path entails challenges and difficulties. We will not grow, deepen, and achieve greater knowledge and understanding unless we are committed to sticking with our practice. For the spiritual practice of everyday relationship, that means a commitment to the relationships, and to approaching them with awareness, appreciation, and nonattachment.

Commitment makes possible a depth, wholeness, and peace that we cannot otherwise achieve. I’m not suggesting committing yourself to an abusive situation. If that’s where you are, I hope you’ll take steps to get out. But if a relationship is worth keeping, it’s worth full commitment. Reminding myself several times a day of my commitment is a key component of my spiritual practice of everyday relationships.

Commitment is a practice that can continue even long after the one to whom we have committed has died. Commitment creates an opportunity to practice awareness, appreciation, and nonattachment.

Sometimes I catch myself thinking of parenting and partnering as duties that take me away from a more spiritual time. When I slow down and pay attention, though, another truth becomes clear: The wiping, listening, cleaning, hugging, holding, forgiving, helping with homework, and driving to Little League are all activities within which we can find connection and renewal, if done with awareness, appreciation, nonattachment, and commitment.

* * *


Religious Education News: Sun Nov 18

As we get closer to Thanksgiving, it is so appropriate and meaningful to continue our journey towards hospitality on so many levels. I had the pleasure of assisting Perry in the Children’s Worship for all ages in Fellowship Hall. The service revolved around Veteran Day Activities, most especially focusing on the concept of service. Perry asked all the students to draw a picture of some kind act or gesture of service they had offered someone else. Each then got up, introduced themselves, and described their “service.” Perry and the students talked about how we welcome and care for people coming to our congregation. Groups took turns going out to speak with Jane Dixon and learn about the work of our Welcome Committee. The students then suggested things we can do to at CUUC to create an even more welcoming environment. Perry created small cards for the group to color and write messages to those RE students who haven’t been seen for awhile. There followed a truly insightful discussion with the students about the things they thought made them happy and comfortable at CUUC, and the things that did not lend to their desire to be here on Sundays. More than one student agreed that getting up on Sunday morning was hard. One even suggested we have services and classes on a Tuesday at around 3 PM! Totally serious, yet so funny. Perry’s facilitation of this service and activities really bore witness to the genuine honesty of feelings and opinions of the children and youth. They clearly expressed a sense of camaraderie and desire to help others in the congregation, as well as visitors. What better way to convey a community-minded sentiment than with a card saying “We miss you, please come back"!

Michele Rinaldi
Religious Education Coordinator

A look at what’s coming up…

Sunday, Nov 18th – All ages in the sanctuary for our Multigenerational Thanksgiving

Sunday, Nov 25 – Fun Sunday/Deck The Halls Crafts

(there are no RE classes)

Gently Used Children's Books and Toys Drive for the Ecumenical Food Pantry, Nov 18 to Sun Dec 9
Beginning this Sunday, you may bring in gently used kids' books and toys for our collection to benefit clients of the Ecumenical Food Pantry. Help bring joy to parents who could not otherwise afford holiday gifts for their children. We are also collecting stuffed animals (must be new or like new) for the senior clients who enjoy one for themselves! Contact: Mary Cavallero ( for information or to volunteer.

Stay tuned for information on our other holiday Opportunities for Giving, including the mitten tree and gift cards for children of the Coachman Family Center.

Music: Sun Nov 18

In keeping with our desire to comprehend the Thanksgiving story from the perspective of Native Americans, several of this morning’s musical selections stem from the so-called American Indianist movement. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a number of American classical composers attempted to evoke or incorporate themes from Native American culture in their work. Although their intent was to pay tribute to this unique artistic tradition, by definition they appropriated indigenous resources into the Eurocentric musical style of the time. Arthur Farwell and Edward MacDowell were among the leading exponents of this style. Other works by MacDowell are featured as well, including his evocation of the pilgrims’ Puritan origins in his New England Idylls, and a direct reference to the year of the Plymouth Rock landing in one of his Sea Pieces.

Our own Lisa Meyer and Georgianna Pappas offer a statement about hospitality from the pen of Leonard Bernstein, whose centennial is celebrated this year. And the CUUC Choir is also on hand with traditional holiday fare. Read on for programming details.

Prelude: Adam Kent, piano
Thanks, Op. 62, No. 2                          
                                             Edvard Grieg
“From Puritan Days” from New England Idylls, Op. 62
“From an Indian Lodge” from Woodland Sketches, Op. 51
“A.D. 1620” from Sea Pieces, Op. 55
                                    Edward MacDowell

Special Music: Lisa N. Meyer, soprano; Georgianna Pappas, piano
“My New Friends” from The Mad Woman of Central Park West
Leonard Bernstein.

Anthem: The CUUC Choir
Hey, Ho Nobody’s Home  
Traditional Folk Song  arr. by Greg Gilpin 
From Impressions of the Wa-Wan Ceremony of the Omahas, Op. 21
                  VII: Song of Peace
                  Arthur Farwell

Homeward Bound 
Marta Keen, arr. by Jay Althouse
Mary Lane Cobb and Ted Kuczinski, soloists


From the Minister, Fri Nov 9

Sabbatical? Sabbatical! Yes! I will be on a six-month sabbatical from 2019 Oct 1 until 2020 Apr 1.

That's still almost 11 months away, but I just want everyone to be aware that it's coming. Herewith a bit of a FAQ:

Q: Is this normal?

Very. I wish it were more normal in other lines of work -- I think lawyers and doctors and bankers -- and their clients and patients -- would also benefit if they had sabbaticals. As it is, professors and ministers commonly have sabbaticals to go do something different. For professors, it's typically travel and study. Ministers might do that, too.

Among full-time UU ministers sabbaticals are very common. Here's the language in the Letter of Agreement that CUUC and I have -- it's very typical of what is in most such Letters of Agreement between UU ministers and the congregations they serve:
"Sabbatical Leave: The Minister will use sabbatical leave for study, education, writing, meditation and other forms of professional and religious growth. Sabbatical leave accrues at the rate of four weeks per year of service, with the first leave to be taken no sooner than five years from the date of first employment with the Church. Successive leaves may be taken after three years of service. Not more than six months of sabbatical leave may be used in any twelve-month period."
Q: You've been here that long already?

I know! The time does fly. Yes, in summer 2019, I will have finished six years. I'll be in need of stepping back and rejuvenating and reflecting on ideas for the next six years.

Q: Has CUUC ever had a minister go on Sabbatical?

Rev. Carol Huston (served CUC 2001-2011) had a sabbatical, I understand. Jef Gamblee, who had just finished his ministerial internship as the sabbatical began stayed on to serve as the Sabbatical Minister. I don't know if Rev. Shannon Bernard (served CUC 1985-1998) ever took sabbatical. I hope so!

Q: Who will be our Sabbatical Minister?

The Board and I are working on that question. We do not, as yet, have anyone lined up. But we do expect to bring in a Sabbatical Minister for those six months.

Q: What will you be doing?

I have long yearned for the experience of an extended period of uninterrupted Zen practice. In fact, the six-month monastic training period is a requirement in many Zen schools for becoming a Zen teacher. I'm not seeking any Zen credentialing, but I figure there's a good reason for the requirement. I have chosen a Zen monastery in Oregon where I will be in residence -- living like a monk for six months.

Q: Will the experience change you?

No doubt!

Q: Will you come back?

Yes. I promise.

Q: What if we really like the Sabbatical Minister and don't want you to come back?

Then we will have some talking to do! I'll be very happy for you that you had such a good experience while I was away. In the end, of course, you, the members of the Congregation, as always, have the power to call and dismiss ministers as you see fit.

Q: Are you worried about that scenario?


Q: Why is it called "sabbatical"?

The root is the same as in Sabbath. Literally, it means "ceasing." Traditionally, farmers would let any given field lie fallow every seventh year as a way to avoid depleting the soil, and allow it to absorb new nutrients. So the tradition developed of people taking every seventh year to "lie fallow."

Q: Do you need to lie fallow?

Now that you ask, I find that, yes, a feeling of need for fallow time does seem to be calling my name with increasing insistence. I sure will miss all of you, though!


Religious Education News: Sun Nov 11

Happy late fall everyone as we approach the close of autumn and move toward winter. Last Sunday was another great day in RE. Liz Suvanto and I led Children's Worship in Fellowship Hall with grades K-3. Liz did an interesting twist on our monthly theme of hospitality by showing the children how to greet one another in other languages. An interactive exercise followed with children pairing off and demonstrating hospitality by way of a hug or handshake or even a bow. Then they introduced themselves to someone other than their partner and shared their greeting. Right after, Lyra was ready to rehearse the hymn “We’re Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table,” which we will all be singing at the multigenerational Thanksgiving service on Sun Nov 18. Lyra also spent time in class with grades 2-3 and had them join in singing “Yankee Doodle.” Grades 4-5 and 6-7 and their teachers did a terrific job cleaning up the triangle gardens in the RE wing. In honor of Election Day and voting, grades 2-3 made their own posters encouraging people to vote and at the end of services marched with them through the sanctuary extolling the wish for everyone to vote. It was by all standards a lively, animated Sunday!

Michele Rinaldi,
Religious Education Coordinator

Looking at what’s coming up…

RE This Sun Nov 11: All ages will be in Fellowship Hall for RE Veterans Day activities.
Service, Welcome, and Care - Our Veterans' Day Weekend RE program will focus on service, especially how we welcome people into our congregation and care for them. Children and youth will engage with the Welcome Committee to learn about their service and give input into what else we might do to be a welcoming place for everyone. Help us reimagine the RE foyer and also send cards to those we haven't seen in a while.

Faith Development Friday, Fri Nov 9, Fireside Area, 6:15 PM Pizza and Salad Community Dinner, 7:00 PM Programs, 8:30 Coffee and Chat
An evening of spiritual growth, learning and community. Programs include: “Faith Like A River” Adult RE (You may also join the program online via ZOOM video-conferencing:; Family Journey Group where parents discuss the monthly theme while children have related activities; Social Time for Adults where people may just chat and be together (this week in room 41) after the meal. Everyone may stay for coffee and conversation after the programs. RSVP by 4:00 PM Fri Nov 9 to

Music at CUUC presents “Robert and Clara: A Domestic Drama,” All–Schumann Piano Recital featuring Adam Kent, Sun Nov 11, 12:00 noon, Sanctuary
A family-friendly concert including appearances by CUUC’s Kim Force and Craig Hunt. Childcare available with advance reservation to Tickets at

RE Next Sunday: Sun Nov 18 - All ages in the sanctuary for our multigenerational Thanksgiving worship.


Music: Sun Nov 11

“Hospitality and the Stranger” seem to be embodied in the life and music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828). Alienated from his family over his choice of career, and estranged from much of society because of his sexuality, Schubert nevertheless found a close circle of admirers in the artistic community of Vienna. His incomparable Lieder and numerous short piano works—like the Impromptu and Moment Musical heard this morning—were performed at intimate home gatherings known as Schubertiades. The CUUC Choir is also on hand with a Ghanaian folk song, which encourages inclusivity, as well as the prayerful “Open My Eyes”, based on a text by Clara H. Scott. Read on for programming details.

Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Impromptu in C Minor, Op. 90, No. 1                                 
                                                Franz Schubert

Anthem: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas
Tue, Tue (Come Sing a Song)*    
Ghana Folk Song arr. by Sonja Poorman and Berta Poorman
Kim Force, soloist

*Translation: Come sing a song, oh come sing along.
                       Come dance along, oh come dance along.
                         Come on and join us all together, come celebrate!
                         Come on and join us all together on this new day, Hey!
                         Oh, on this new day!

Moment Musical in Ab Major, Op. 94, No. 2

Open My Eyes    
Words by Clara H. Scott, Music by Sara R. Nussel and arr. by Douglas Nolan