CUUC

CUUC

2015-06-24

RE Volunteers 2014-2015

Thank you to all the parents and other adults who supported our RE ministry with snacks, substituting, rides, classroom visits, and everything you did to offer a helping hand.

Here is the list of teachers and those involved in significant RE projects:

Nursery & Pre-K
Hans Elsevier
Diane Keller
Michelle Reichman
Sahalie Sullivan
Jade Swiss

K-1st Grade: A Discovery Year
Josie Blatt
Joni Ehrlich
Maria Prieto
Janice Silverberg
Lex Suvanto

2nd-3rd Grade: Free to Believe
Monica Bentley
Marisol Ferguson
Cindy Kramer
Rhonda Miller
Kevin Sullivan
Ian Tera

4th Grade: Moral Tales
Suzanne Caccione
Christine Major
Anne Marie Sheeley

5th-6th Grade: Sing to the Power
Laura Goodspeed
Aimee Katz
Lizabeth Redfearn
Alex Sehdeva
Liz Suvanto

5th-6th Grade: Our Whole Lives
David Bowen
Bevin McGuire

7th-8th Grade: Neighboring Faiths
Emily Economou
John Economou
Pearl Prince
Brett Redfearn
Pinar Tanrikorur
Ben Unger

7th Grade Our Whole Lives
Al Rocchi
Janet Wafer-White

9th Grade: Coming of Age
Ed Dandridge
Gail Johnston
Andrew Svarre
Hope Tera

Youth Group
Julie Gans
Terri Gomez
Jeanna Munch
Cyndi Tillman
Dan Tillman
Jeff Tomlinson

Special Projects
Martin Alberti
Julie Carran
Jim Cobb
Ingrid Hartmann
Rev. LoraKim Joyner
Catherine Kortlandt
Betty Landauer
Tim Lynch
Bryan Masbak
Rae Messing
John Schwam
Dan Vought
Bice Wilson

RE Support Teams
Marcia Bean
John Cavallero
Melody Cooper
Tara James
Linda Janczewski
Lisa Stelling
Michael Stelling

RE Council
Jeff Blatt
Chris Breault
Pam Cucinell, Chair
Steve Miller
Sofia Pardillo
Al Rocchi
Tom Ryan
Janice Silverberg
Liz Suvanto
Amy Swiss

Nourish Your Brain

Practice of the Week
Nourish Your Brain
"There's no denying that as we age chronologically, our body ages right along with us. But research is showing that you can increase your chances of maintaining a healthy brain well into your old age if you add these "smart" foods to your daily eating regimen." (Carol Sorgen, WebMD)

"The busier and bigger my life gets, the more I need to be on the ball. Food is an essential part of my success strategy. Put another way: if I didn't know how to eat right for my brain, I'd be a mess." (Susan Biali, Psychology Today)
Rick Hanson on nourishing your brain:



Text below adapted from Rick Hanson, Just One Thing. [Order a copy for yourself: HERE.]

Your brain contains about a hundred billion neurons plus another trillion support cells. Most neurons fire five to fifty times a second -- even when you're asleep. Consequently, even though your brain weighs only three pounds, about 2 to 3 percent of bodyweight, it needs about 25 percent of the glucose in your blood. No wonder it's hungry!

And it needs other nutrients besides glucose. For example, about 60 percent of the dry weight of the brain consists of healthy fats. Or consider the neurotransmitters that carry information from one neuron to another. Your body builds these complex molecules from smaller parts, assisted by other biochemicals. For instance, serotonin -- which supports your mood, digestion, and sleep -- is made from tryptophan with the aid of iron and vitamin B6.

Significant shortages in any one of the dozens of nutrients your brain needs will harm your body and mind. For example:
  • Shortage of vitamins B12, B6, folate causes depressed mood (Skarupski, et al, 2010)
  • Shortage of vitamin D causes weaker immune system; dementia; depressed mood (Nimitphong and Holick 2011)
  • Shortage of DHA causes depressed mood (Rondanell et al. 2010)
On the other hand, filling up your neural cupboard with good supplies will bring you more energy, resilience, and well-being.

How

At every meal, especially breakfast, have three to four ounces -- about the size of a deck of cards -- of a high-protein food. This will give you vital amino acids plus help regulate blood sugar and insulin.

Speaking of blood sugar, eating lots of sweets and white-flour carbohydrates raises insulin levels -- which then crash, leading to the weary/cranky/foggy state of hypoglycemia. Routinely high insulin also puts you on the slippery slope to type 2 diabetes. So keep these foods to a minimum, aiming for no more than twenty-five grams a day of refined sugar, and avoiding refined flours as much as possible.

Eat lots of dark-colored fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, kale, beets, carrots, and broccoli. These foods contain important nutrients that support memory (Krikorian, et al. 2010), protect your brain against oxidation (Guerrero-Beltran, et al. 2010), and may reduce the risk of dementia (Gu, et al. 2010).

Take a broad-spectrum, high-potency, multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. It would be great if you could get all the nutrients for optimal health from three meals a day, but most people don't have time to get and prepare all the fresh vegetables and other complex foods this would take. Plus we need more of these nutrients to help metabolize the hundreds of human-made molecules we're exposed to each day. In addition to eating as healthily as you can, it's simple to toss a few supplement capsules a day down the hatch, which takes less time than brushing your teeth. To identify a high-quality supplement -- whose dose probably involves two to three capsules -- look for one that has about five to ten times the "daily values" (DVs) of B vitamins and 100 percent of the DVs of minerals.

Also take two to three capsules a day of high-quality fish oil, enough to get at least 500 milligrams of both DHA (decosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid); check the label. If you don't want fish oil, an alternative is a combination of flax oil and DHA from algae, but fish oil is the most effective way to get omega-3 oils into your body and brain.

Meanwhile, as you take these actions, enjoy knowing that as you "feed your head," you're in fact feeding your life.

For Journaling

For the next three days, include in your journal a list of what you ate in the previous 24 hours. What's your assessment of that day's diet?

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Previous Practice of the Week: "Poetry By Heart"
For list of all weekly practices: "Practices of the Week Index"

2015-06-18

Poetry By Heart

Practice of the Week
Poetry By Heart

"Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words." (Robert Frost)

"Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before." (Audre Lorde)
Read poetry. When a poem stands out for you as a favorite, stay with it. Copy it into a "favorite poems" notebook. Learn it by heart. Repeat it often, murmuring to yourself or reciting it to appropriate others.

Unitarian Universalist ministers Rev. Harry Scholefield and Rev. Laurel Hallman have articulated a spiritual practice Hallman calls "Living by Heart." Collect and write down poems, songs, stories that have spoken lyrically and wisely to human beings since time immemorial. Scholefield called these words and music the "Singing River" that represented for him the continual dawning of the human spirit.

By recording words of wisdom that have personal meaning and "living" with them until they become one's "heart wisdom," those words come to occupy a place beyond memory. When you live with a poem so intimately that it enters your heart, it becomes a constant resource, companion, and guide. Years and innumerable experiences accumulate, yet the rhymes and rhythms we stored deep in our brains stay with us.

The pace of contemporary life is often hectic and can seem unmanageable. Taking time to take in, to receive and hold wisdom in a form that can be accessed and used as a reminder of what holds our life can re-focus us in a helpful way.
"Poetry is a particularly rich genre because it speaks to both head and heart. It has carried the wisdom and stories of the ages. Think of the Illiad, the ancient Greek tale that has served for centuries as a metaphor for the journey away and back to self; consider the Psalms in Bible, poetry that carried the ancient Jews through the tribulations of exile and on to the promised land; recall the work of Shakespeare the greatest secular literature of all time that leaves no aspect of the human condition untouched. Consider the work of Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry and May Sarton and Denise Levertov and ee cummings other contemporary poets used liberally in our UU worship to celebrate the wonders of the natural world and our place in it." (Rev. Karen Gustafson)
Words of poetry and poetic, wise prose, taken to heart, become, as Hallman says “the words that sustain, inspire, and give voice to my life. They are words that call me back to a place of gratitude when the perspective that I face is dissatisfaction and disappointment.”

Some dozen or so years ago I watched a video of Hallman and Scholefield describing the life of spiritual deepening and, particularly, this practice of learning poetry by heart. I began to hand copy favorite poems into a small spiral-bound notebook dedicated to that purpose. Below is a sampling of some of my "heart wisdom" words. Perhaps some of them will also resonate with you and get you started on a path of gathering words to live by. Gather the words, and the words will gather you.

WILD GEESE by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

THE GUEST HOUSE by Jelaluddin Rumi (Coleman Barks trans)

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

A GIFT by Denise Levertov

Just when you seem to yourself
nothing but a flimsy web
of questions, you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands,
songbird eggs that can still hatch
if you keep them warm,
butterflies opening and closing themselves
in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure
their scintillating fur, their dust.
You are given the questions of others
as if they were answers
to all you ask. Yes, perhaps
this gift is your answer.

* * *
Previous Practice of the Week: "Befriend Your Body"
For list of all weekly practices: "Practices of the Week Index"

2015-06-17

CUUC Music: Sun June 21


For the concluding Sunday of the 2014-15 church year, Adam Kent features works by Unitarian composers Béla Bartók and Edvard Grieg during the Prelude. For information on Adam’s recording of Lyric Piece by Grieg, visit http://www.adamkentmusic.com/listen/. Religious Education at CUUC will also be honored by other musical selections performed by church youth who participated in last month’s Talent Show. Read on for details. 
Prelude: Adam Kent, piano
Rumanian Dances
Dance with Sticks – Waistband Dance – On the Spot – Hornpipe –
Rumanian Polka – Quick Dance
                        Béla Bartók
Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, Op. 65, No. 6
                                    Edvard Grieg

Opening Music: Josie Blatt, vocal and ukele
Medley from Taylor Swift's "Fearless", Train's "Hey Soul Sister", and Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours"

Interlude: Wesley Miller, piano
Two-Part Inventions
                                 Johann Sebastian Bach

Offertory:Ashley Smith and Zara Suvanto
"Popular" from Wicked
                              Stephen Schwartz
 




 

2015-06-11

Befriend Your Body

Practice of the Week
Befriend Your Body
"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live." (Jim Rohn)

"And I said to my body, softly, 'I want to be your friend.' It took a long breath and replied, 'I have been waiting my whole life for this.'" (Nayyirah Waheed)
Rick Hanson on Befriending One's Body:


Text below adapted from Rick Hanson, Just One Thing. [Order a copy for yourself: HERE.]

Imagine that your body is separate from you, and consider these questions:
  • How has your body taken care of you over the years? Such as keeping you alive, giving you pleasure, and taking you from place to place.
  • In return, how well do you take care of your body? Such as soothing, feeding, and exercising it, or taking it to the doctor. On the other hand, in what ways might you run it down, feed it junk food, or intoxicate it?
  • In what ways are your critical of your body? For example, are you disappointed in it or embarrassed by it? Do you feel let down by it, or wish it were different?
  • If your body could talk to you, what might it say?
  • If your body were a good friend, how would you treat it? Would that be different from how you treat it now?
Personally, I can't help squirming a little when I face these questions myself. It's common to push the body hard, ignore its needs until they get intense, and tune out from its signals. And then drop the body into bed at the end of another long day like -- as my father would say, having grown up on a ranch -- "a horse rid hard and put up wet."

People can also get mad at the body, and even mean to it. Like it's the body's fault if it weighs too much or is getting old.

But if you do any of these things, you'll end up paying a big price, since you are not separated from your body after all. Its needs and pleasures and pains are your own. Its fate will be your own someday.

On the other hand, if you treat your body well, like a good friend, you'll feel better, have more energy, be more resilient, and probably live longer.

How

Remember a time when you treated a good friend well. What was your attitude toward your friend, and what kinds of things did you do with him or her? How did it feel inside to be nice toward your friend?

Next, imagine a day of treating your body like another good friend. Imagine loving this friend -- your body -- as you wake up and help it out of bed: being gentle with it, staying connected to it, not rushing about . . . what would this feel like?

Imagine cherishing your body as you move through the morning -- such as helping it kindly to some water, giving it a nice shower, and serving it healthy and delicious food. Imagine treating your body with love as you do other activities such as driving, caring for children, exercising, working with others, doing dishes, having sex, or brushing your teeth.

How would this approach feel?

You'd probably experience less stress, more relaxation and calm, mor pleasure, mor ease, and more of a sense of being in control of your life. Plus an implicit sense of being kind to yourself, since in a deep sense you don't just have a body, you are your body; treating it well is treating you well.

If your body could speak, what might it say to you after being treated with love for a day?

Then, for real, treat your body well for a day (or even for just a few minutes). What's this like? In what ways does it feel good? Notice any reluctance to be nice to your body. Maybe a feeling that doing so would be self-indulgent or sinful. Explore that reluctance, and see what it's about. Then decide if it makes any sense. If it doesn't, return to treating your body well.

If you could talk to your body, what might you say? Perhaps write a letter to your body, telling it how you've felt about it in the past, and how you want to be nicer to it in the future.

Make a short list of how to care better for your body, such as quitting smoking, or leaving work sooner, or taking more time for simple bodily pleasures. Then commit to treating your body better.

Kindness begins at home.

Your home is your body.

For Journaling

For the next 5 days dedicate a part of your journaling to reflecting on the questions at the top of this column.
Day 1: How has my body taken care of me over the years?
Day 2: How well do I take care of my body? Do I soothe it, feed it, exercise it, take it to the doctor? Do I run it down, feed it junk food, or intoxicate it?
Day 3: In what ways am I critical of my body? Am I disappointed in it or embarrassed by it? Do I feel let down by it, or wish it were different?
Day 4: If my body could talk to me, if would probably want to tell me . . .
Day 5: If my body were my good friend, how would I treat it? Would that be different from how I treat it now?

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Previous Practice of the Week: "Pray"
For list of all weekly practices: "Practices of the Week Index"

2015-06-10

CUC Music: Sun Jun 14


Claude Debussy’s Asian-inflected creations and Unitarian composer Edvard Grieg’s communion with the natural world provide musical counterparts to Sunday’s sermon topic, the intersection of Buddhism and Unitarian Universalism. In addition, CUC’s Choir is on hand with joyous, celebratory selections to mark their final appearance of the 2014-15 year. Read on for more details.
Prelude: Adam Kent, piano
Jimbo’s Lullaby from Children’s Corner
La puerta del vino and Bruyères from Preludes, Book II
                                    Claude Debussy
Anthem: CUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas
Kim Force, soprano descant
Nothin’ Gonna Stumble My Feet  
Greg Gilpin and John Parker

Offertory:
Woodland Peace, Op. 71, No. 4                        
                                          Edvard Grieg
Anthem:
Old American Songs, Set II                
                               Aaron Copland, edited by Janet Klevburg Day  

2015-06-04

CSA at CUC

CUC participates in Community Supported Agriculture by hosting Roxbury Farms from Summer into Winter.

Get your produce and meat direct from the farm! Fresh vegetables, fruit, and meat are delivered to CUC and picked up. Wednesday afternoons by families across Westchester. The CSA deliveries are weekly from Wed Jun 10 through Wed Nov 4, plus Wed Nov 18. The optional winter vegetable share deliveries are on Wed Dec 2, Wed Jan 6, and Wed Feb 3. The fruit share begins on Wed Jul 15 and runs for 18 weeks with the vegetable share.

What's in a share?

A share provides 10-17 lbs of freshly harvested produce each week.  Given an average harvest, a share provides enough vegetables to feed 2-4 adults eating a vegetable-based diet (400-450 lbs of produce every season).

Each week you will receive 7-12 different varieties of vegetables. You will experience a variety of vegetables that changes with the seasons. From early spring with wide variety of greens, scallions, and radishes, through the peak of the summer with rich flavored tomatoes, freshly picked sweet corn, and green beans, and into the cool days of fall with hearty root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets, and parsnips.

Sign up now if you're interested! Visit www.roxburyfarm.com for more information and prices, or call 518-758-8558.

For first-hand feedback from last year talk to Rev. Meredith Garmon, Perry Montrose, Amy Swiss, or Emily Economou. Let us know if you're interested in sharing a share with another family -- we'll try and connect people who want to share. Respond to this e-mail or contact Emily at emily.economou@gmail.com.

2015-06-03

Pray

Practice of the Week
Pray

We need a Unitarian Universalist theology of prayer, because, for many of us, what we learned in childhood about what prayer is doesn’t make sense to us anymore, so we don’t pray.

Prayer is not about asking for stuff with any expectation that it will magically appear. Prayer does not require believing in a personlike entity or committing to the notion that reality-as-a-whole has knowledge and desires.

It does help to address the prayer to something other than yourself, though it’s fine if you understand this as merely a device to help you hear yourself better – like beginning your journal entries with “Dear Diary.” It’s a good device – helps you really do it, slow down, complete your sentences, present yourself without the shortcuts habitual to our rushing thoughts.

So that's part one: imagine reporting to someone whose judgment you need not cajole, who will never hold against you whatever you say, and whose sympathy is assured. Maybe you’re sure there’s no one there, or maybe you suspect it. That’s fine. Pretend. Role-play. It's good to exercise the imagination. Knowing when to go ahead and play make-believe and burst the bonds of the literal and prosaic -- and when to return to those bonds -- is the better part of wisdom.

So start the prayer, "Dear _____." What you put in the blank is up to you. A few options:
  • God
  • Goddess
  • Jesus
  • Mary
  • Avalokitesvara
  • Vishnu
  • Thor
  • Ghosts of my ancestors
  • Saint Francis
  • Reality
  • Ground of being
  • Source of healing and wholeness we call by many names
  • Breath of life in the world
  • Aliveness of reality
  • Oneness
  • Love
You could also address your prayer to an imaginary person you name "Hilda," or "Cuthbert." In some ways it does matter whom you name as your addressee in prayer, so try out various possibilities to see what resonantes best with you. As far as whether or not you actually are praying, it doesn't matter how you name your (imagined) listener.

Kneeling is good, though by no means necessary. Kneeling tells your body, "we're doing something a little different from the rest of life now." It helps the body take seriously what you're doing -- and the body, after all, runs our lives a lot more than the thin layer of upper cortex that likes to believe it's in charge. It also seems to help to look either down or up.

Prayer is about caring enough about life – yours – to check in with it, see how it’s doing. The purpose of imagining you are reporting to something outside yourself is to discover what you say.

Then begin. So what do you say? What goes in part two, the "body" of the prayer?

Anne Lamott’s latest is a little book about prayer, and the title is three words that say it all:
Help. Thanks. Wow.
That’s it. Help. Thanks. Wow. To take up a practice of prayer means that you’ll regularly say those three things. You’ll say them to yourself, and in private, because prayer is not for display.

Sometimes you say, “I sure do need some help. I don’t know what to do.”

Sometimes you might be specific about the sort of help you’d really like, and that’s where the idea of prayer as asking for things comes from. But the point isn’t to ask so you can get it. The point is to ask so you can hear your own heart’s yearning. The exercise of expressing what you seek is helpful. Sometimes the expressing creates a freedom that allows us to let go of the desire. Other times, expressing what we want helps us see it in a new light so that we can take more effective action.

Sometimes you say, “Thank you. Thank you for a day of sobriety, for my granddaughter, for the blossoming azaleas, for air.”

And sometimes you say: “Wow. I’m stunned. I might or might not also be grateful, but mostly right now, I’m stunned. I gasp. The song of a bird, an image of war, the massive scale of poverty, the infinity of the cosmos. Wow.”

Wow is what you say when you look at the ocean for the first time, or the Grand Canyon, or a solar eclipse (though a pinhole projector).

Help. Thanks. Wow. Saying it helps us know we mean it, that’s all. It helps us become self-aware, which we rarely are. A regular practice of prayer changes us, but it changes us so slowly that it’s easy to think nothing is happening, it’s not doing anything, it’s pointless. As the years wash up like waves, the habit of daily prayer gradually yields up its fruit of self-awareness.

You know who you are – really know. You know where you fall down and need help. You know what you love and are so grateful for: those are your resources are for getting back up. And you know you’re alive in a world of wonder.

It’s one thing to have a moment of irritation, sadness, anger, disappointment, fear. Such feelings, too, are threads in the fabric of the wonder of life. It’s another thing to nurse such a feeling like a grudge, to run a cognitive loop to tell myself over and over not just that I’m having the feeling, but how justified I am to have it. Every time I want to cling to my own crankiness, wield it with righteous conviction, I am forgetting who I am. Saying help and thanks and wow gradually gets me where I’m quicker to remember again.

Then, at the end, part three: say, “Amen.” Or say, “and so it is,” or, “truly,” since these terms are translations of "amen." Also popular is, "blessed be." All these endings underscore that prayer is not about wishful thinking, but about being in touch with things exactly as they are in your heart. It's about blessing what is -- even if "what is" is your own desperate need for help.

Help. And so it is.
Thanks. Truly.
Wow. And so it is, truly.

* * *

Previous Practice of the Week: "Be Mindful"
For list of all weekly practices: "Practices of the Week Index"