CUUC

CUUC

2018-04-27

From the Minister, Apr 29

The joint Earth Day service that brought all five Westchester UU Congregations together in our sanctuary was wonderful! I loved the energy -- the choirs and other music, the togetherness, the sharing of worship with other ministers.

I expected that it would be a great service. I have to admit, though, that it took more work to organize and plan than I expected. I was all, like, "Everybody come! What could possibly go wrong?"

It turns out there were a lot more things than I was imagining that could have gone wrong. None of them did -- and that's because our CUUC Board noticed better than I did all the matters to which would have to be attended. A special telephone-conference board meeting raised a number of concerns, and, to make sure they were addressed, Chris Kortlandt, Paula Meighan, and Adine Usher stepped forward, volunteering to constitute a Board Subcommittee to coordinate with the other congregations and certain of our own members. They put in tremendous work to make sure everything went smoothly, and I am deeply and humbly grateful.

In the service, my homily focused on "Attention" as a spiritual path. But it was the attentions that had already been given by Chris, Paula, and Adine that made it all possible. Thank you!

So what do you think? Shall we do it again next year?

Yours Gratefully,
Meredith

In case you missed it . . .

Our Earth Day service -- a gala joint service with all five Westchester UU congregations -- was live streamed through Facebook. The video remains up on our CUUC Facebook page: CLICK HERE


The Liberal Pulpit. The Liberal Pulpit is a YouTube Channel HERE! Videos include the sermons starting on Feb 25.

New this week: "Market Harms and Market Benefits"
"Earth Day Attention"
"Practices for Paying Attention to Money"
"The Pleasure and Pain of Wandering"

Index of past sermons: HERE. Index of other reflections: HERE.



Practice of the Week. Exercise. A spiritual practice is any regular, intentional activity that serves to significantly deepen the quality and content of your relationship with the miracle of life. For me, running is a spiritual practice that connects me in deep, satisfying, and enriching ways with myself, other people, my world, and the day.






Zen Practice at CUUC: Sat Apr 28
One afternoon, after the Tallspruce group hiked over to Lowridge for berries, Black Bear said to Raven, "This is my last get-together before I retire for the winter. There is something I want to ask. I dream a lot when I'm hibernating. Do Zen masters dream?" Raven said, "Higgledy-piggledy." Black Bear chuckled. "My dreams are like that, too -- all confused!" Raven said, "Not...READ MORE...





Minister's Tuesday Coffee Chat. I'm at a coffee shop (almost) every Tuesday from 3-5pm. I invite you to drop by and chat.
May: Red Mango, 1924 Palmer Ave, Larchmont. (A departure from coffee -- let's try a fruit smoothie!)







NOTES
  • The two Common Reads for 2017-18: HERE.
  • Of particular note, regarding Centering: See recommended reading HERE.
  • On the Journey, April: Faith. HERE.
  • Sun Apr 29. A SPECIAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING HAS BEEN CALLED! See details HERE.

2018-04-26

Exercise

Practice of the Week
Exercise

Category: Supporting Practices: Observances that support and expand developing spirituality. They aren't "slogans to live by": they require setting aside some dedicated time. They aren't "occasional," but call for regular application. Nor are they merely "worth a try," since their value doesn't depend on whether you happen to have a taste for them.

from Scott Alexander, "Exercise," in Everyday Spiritual Practice, abridged and adapted.

Everyone knows that regular, vigorous exercise offers a wide constellation of health benefits, as well as a general enhancement of personal well-being and enjoyment of life. But what makes it a spiritual practice?

A spiritual practice is any regular, intentional activity that serves to significantly deepen the quality and content of your relationship with the miracle of life. For me, running is a spiritual practice that connects me in deep, satisfying, and enriching ways with myself, other people, my world, and the day.

The spiritual aspects of exercise are twofold. First, exercise has meditative and reflective dimensions. Many who exercise regularly report that their physical discipline helps them to achieve a state of mindful and meditative peace and calm. If I relax while running – focus my mind on the regular rhythms of both my breathing and body movements, and let go of the distractions and complexities of my day – I often move into a spiritual state of being fully alive to the rich miracle of life both within and around me. I feel in soul-satisfying harmony with all that is: my body, the natural world, other people, even what I call God. While running does not always bring me to this calming, meditative place, regular exercise can often be a time to meditate, to become more aware of and grateful for life.

Second, the regular practice of exercise establishes an overall spiritual “right relation” with myself, my world, and other beings who share it with me. If I care for the body that houses and holds me, I will be more inclined and more able to care for other lives around me.

So taking responsible care of your own bodily temple can properly be seen as a primary spiritual practice of care and connection to all the infinite intricacies of reality. Any form of regular, vigorous exercise can be a discipline of spiritual self-care that naturally leads to spiritual other-care, and thus to right relation with all you encounter and touch.

For many of us, regular exercise is easier said than done. Only about 20 percent of Americans regularly exercise enough to achieve any cardiovascular benefit. The legacy of mind-body dualism permeating Western thought encourages us to devalue and neglect things we deem merely physical – including our bodies and the earth itself.

Human wholeness and health are impossible if we separate the spiritual from the physical in our lives. It is sometimes helpful to have words like “spirit” and “body,” but we must be careful not to let our language lead us to think that these are different things. There is just one reality. Though we occasionally look at it through different lenses – attend to its differing functionalities – we shouldn’t forget the oneness, for this is what connects us to all life and to the holistic mystery that is being itself.

My friend Edward Frost writes,
“Having survived a heart attack and a quadruple bypass, I decided I’d like to go on living. I began to exercise regularly, three times a week at the club. I hated every minute of it. My mind dragged my body to the club. Now, however, my exercising is an everyday, deeply spiritual whole-person experience – not something I do simply to stay alive, but a profoundly satisfying part of my life.”
The fitness of the body is a fundamental necessity for being healthy, whole, and fully alive.

Getting started

First, refuse to allow yourself not to do it. The most frequently used excuse is, “I just don’t have time,” but we must make time, disciplining ourselves to set it aside on a regular, faithful basis. Your aim, after all, is not just physical fitness but spiritual wholeness itself.

Second, begin slowly and appropriately given your physical condition, age, body type, and personal preferences. Making grand (and unrealistic) resolutions is only likely to lead you quit (in frustration and shame) within a week. Build up your exercise routine gradually, allowing both your body and your personal schedule to adjust to these new demands (and delights!) Be sensible and patient – and stick with it!

Third, do check with your physician to ensure that your body is ready for the rigors – even if slowly built up to – that you are planning.

Every day, almost without exception, I take an hour to tend my relationship with my oldest and most intimate friend – my body, or, rather, my self – for body is self. Noon is my favorite time to lace up a pair of running shoes, do a little stretching and step outside – regardless of weather – for a good, swift run. The daily run is almost always the most enjoyable part of my day. I love the expansive freedom, love noticing the pleasing intricacies and healing grace of the natural and the human worlds: sunlight kissing a passing cloud, a cormorant gracefully diving for a fish, children playing in sand. I love the experience of being so present and alive. And I love the feeling when I have finished – that glow of accomplishment and invigoration – that returns me to my day refreshed, reawakened, and rejuvenated. I am ready and able to meet the duties and demands of my day relaxed, focused, alert, patient, and eager. My regular exercise routine helps me stay in healthy right relation – with myself, nature, other persons, indeed all of existence itself – and allows me to feel truly at home in my body and in the world.

* * *




RE News: Sun Apr 29

Lifespan Religious Education
The Variety Show is a unique event at CUUC. It combines social justice, entertainment, socialization, food, and music into one spectacular multi-generational gala. We raise money for an important cause (The New American Children’s Cultural Enrichment Fund), while having a great time watching CUUCers and friends of all ages perform their special talent, whether juggling, dancing, singing, or telling jokes. There is a scrumptious bake sale and a raffle with prizes for all tastes. Raffle tickets are on sale the next two Sundays. See the RE News for all the ways you can participate and, most importantly, come to the show on Sat, May 12.

Please see the following six (6) announcements:

1) This Sun Apr 29
K-5th grade start in Fellowship Hall for Children's Worship that includes rehearsal of Sakura for the May 6 Flower Service.
6th-12th grade start in classrooms.

Classes
Pre-K-1 - Creating Home: Memories of Home
2nd-3rd - Passport to Spirituality: Ireland (Pagan: Connection to Nature)
4th-5th - Bibleodeon: Jesus's Miracles
6th-7th – Neighboring Faiths: Buddhism Trip (Leave CUUC at 9:30)
8th-9th – Coming of Age: Faith Statements
10th-12th – Youth Group: Pancake Planning

To view the Religious Education Google calendar, CLICK HERE.
To view a spreadsheet version of the RE Calendar, CLICK HERE.

2) Bingo Night! This Fri, April 27 at 6:30
A night of pizza and community fun!

All ages welcome! $5/adult; $3/child; $15/family max.
RSVP: cuucevents@gmail.com

Help us out by donating a gift to our collection of prizes.

3) Pancake Brunch - May 6
There will be flowers in the sanctuary and flour in the kitchen.

Join us after the Flower Celebration Service for a variety of pancakes.

Special Friends will finally meet at the brunch. Come to the specially decorated tables.

Hosted by Youth Group to support The New American Children’s Cultural Enrichment Fund.
$5/adult, $3/child, $15/family

4) The 6th Annual Variety Show is Coming!
Sat May 12, 5pm
(pizza for performers at 4:30pm)

Rehearsal - Fri, May 11, 4:30-7pm
(snacks provided)

Proceeds from this year's show will go to:
The New American Children’s Cultural Enrichment Fund.
This fund gives the children of refugees in Westchester County the opportunities they have not had to play sports, attend performances, or explore the arts.

DECIDE HOW YOU WILL PARTICIPATE.
  • Perform - contact Liz at elizabethsuvanto@hotmail.com
  • Bake - contact Erin at fosterblatt@gmail.com
  • Submit Recipes – contact Irene at irene.cox@gmail.com
  • Include 1 recipe with your own introduction/description/story (up to 200 words) and a photo of you/your family in the kitchen or elsewhere
  • Donate Raffle Prizes - contact Liz at elizabethsuvanto@hotmail.com
  • (previous prizes: restaurant gift certificates, bouquets of flowers, wine, movie gift cards, games for kids (new only), chocolate and many more. If you are soliciting donations from local businesses, a letter explaining the background of the show and CUUC can be FOUND HERE.)
The Variety Show is not just for children to partake in - this is for EVERYONE AND ANYONE AT CUUC, and other local UU congregations, and your friends outside of CUUC!

5) Unirondack Family & Friends Weekend May 25-28
Join other CUUC families at this Unitarian camp on Memorial Day weekend for family fun and connection.
A few of our families attended last year and had a great time.

For information and to register, CLICK HERE.
Contact Rebecca Rugg at rebeccaruggbiz@gmail.com to find out more from an attendee.

6) UU Summer Camps & Retreat Centers for Children, Youth, and Families
Unitarian Universalist retreat centers offer the opportunity to connect with UUs from around the country in fun and fellowship. Whether you are looking for a place to go as a family or somewhere for your kids to experience a fun camp, there are many amazing Unitarian Universalist summer destinations:

Ferry Beach is oceanfront in ME.
ferrybeach.org
The Mountain is atop the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC.
mountaincenters.org
The Rowe Center is in the Berkshire Mountains in MA.
rowecenter.org
Sophia Fahs RE Camp is one week in August on Shelter Island.
www.liacuu.org/Fahs
Star Island is a 46-acre island off the NH coast.
starisland.org
Unirondack is in the NY Adirondacks.
unirondack.org
Murray Grove is a Universalist retreat center nearby in NJ.
http://www.murraygrove.org/#!camping-in-the-grove/c15no
UUMAC Retreat is one week in July at DeSales University in PA.
uumac.org
The Central East Region offers a Summer Institute focused on climate change.
http://omdsi.org/
SUUSI is a weeklong multignerational event in North Carolina.
https://www.suusi.org/

Sincerely,
Perry
Director of Lifespan Religious Education and Faith Development

Music: Sun Apr 29


It’s difficult to think of music in the framework of “truthful” and “untruthful”, but Robert Schumann’s Kreisleriana inhabits a world of illusions and deceptions. The eight pieces are subtitled “Fantasies”, and rarely has music seemed more “fantastic”. Throughout the work, it’s difficult for listeners to discern where downbeats are, what key one is in, or what wild mood will next erupt. The piece derives from the writings of E.T.A. Hoffman, whose novel Kater Murr was a direct inspiration. The book is a supposedly the memoirs of Tomcat Murr, a feline who has miraculously taught himself to read and write. His life philosophy is written on the back pages of a manuscript by an eccentric musician named Johannes Kreisler, the pages of which Murr has torn up and repurposed for his own story. The seemingly incoherent mishmash has all been published by mistake by a careless editor, who has failed to proofread his work. Hoffman’s novel is one of the great meta-novels of history, and Schumann’s piano work provides a powerful musical analogy.

The CUUC Choir is also on hand with inspirational fare, including Harold Alren’s tribute to the illusory world just “over the rainbow” as well as an uplifting Spiritual. Read on for programming details.


Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Kreisleriana, Op. 16
I.              Ausserst bewegt
II.            Sehr innig und nicht zu rasch
Robert Schumann

Anthem: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas
Over the Rainbow    
Music by  Harold Arlen, lyrics by E.Y. Harburg, arr. by Mark Hayes

Offertory:
Kreisleriana, Op. 16
            IV. Sehr langsam
                                                            Schumann

Anthem:
Bound for Glory!      
American Spiritual, arr. by Douglas E.

2018-04-25

A Community of Love, Hope and Memory


                                                                               Cindy Davidson, Ministerial Intern
During my twenties, when I was not attending a church, Sunday mornings were usually devoted to a close, hours-long read of the Sunday New York Times. Lest you think taking in “All the News That’s Fit to Print” was anything but uplifting, not fitting for a sabbath, or a poor substitute for gathering with others in a place of worship, let me explain. Each week, I wondered, “Who would I meet? From whom would I find inspiration? What wise lessons might I consider following?” You see, a close friend had introduced me to the joys of reading obituaries!

I’ll admit I found the idea unappealing and repulsive, if not voyeuristic, at first. Perhaps that’s because the obits in the paper where I grew up were rather dry, merely a litany of birthplaces, degrees earned, jobs held, relatives left behind, calling hours and burial arrangements. But, as I settled into the comfy armchair week after week, and turned to the back pages of section A, my fondness for taking these reliably provided opportunities to visit the day’s collection of artfully crafted biographical sketches grew. Here, I found plenty of jumping off points to let me imagine engaging with and being influenced by people from all walks of life, a witness to their struggles, accomplishments, and delights. There we met, two souls certainly not ever to meet in the flesh, our common humanity transcending time and distance.  

Something very similar -- and more -- happens whenever I attend a memorial service as part of being an active participant in congregational life. Even when I may not have known the deceased personally, we share a connection by virtue of our involvement in the congregation and through the relationships mutually cultivated with other congregants. I’ve wondered, “What role did this person play in the life and direction of the congregation before I came along? What visions for the future have we shared? What is their legacy? And, what pieces of what was once theirs to do become ours to continue?” 


Sociologists are fond of saying that churches and congregations are “communities of love, hope and memory” to mark the distinctive place they have in society. Certainly, I’ve experienced this congregation to be a community of loving connection and care, vision-filled hope for the future, and a rich and proud collective memory. One place I see this in action is in the ways we come together to grieve losses and celebrate the lives of those who have recently died. There are gifts in these final acts of remembrance, even if we may not have known the deceased well or even at all. When we gather to acknowledge and honor the contributions they’ve made to our community and the world at large, we invariably learn things about their passions, accomplishments, and journey of faith fitting for a posthumous rendition of NPR’s “This I Believe.” Often, we learn something about how they helped nurture or challenge our community into the present and may even gain insights into aspects of this congregation’s history that are important to our understanding of who we are as a faith community and where we’re headed. 

As we weave the threads of our lives together with the ones of those who are no longer with us, we create anew a tapestry for this time and place and build together an even stronger, more resilient community of ever-abundant love, hope for a life-affirming future and deep memory. May we bear witness to the blessings of their memories.

2018-04-19

From the Minister, Sun Apr 22











In case you missed it . . .

Here's Cindy Davidson -- with a short refelction from me -- in the Apr 15 service, "Faith in Hashtags":



The Liberal Pulpit. The Liberal Pulpit is a YouTube Channel HERE! Videos include the sermons starting on Feb 25.

New this week: "The Vice of Toxic Masculinity."

Index of past sermons: HERE. Index of other reflections: HERE.







Practice of the Week. Guided Meditation for Relaxing into Awe. The first thing I noticed as I tried to completely relax my jaw was that it was very difficult to do. People hold a lot of tension in their face without even realizing it. By attempting to completely let go of the tightness in your jaw, you'll become aware of subtle tensions throughout your face.







Zen Practice at CUUC: Sat Apr 21










Minister's Tuesday Coffee Chat. I'm at a coffee shop (almost) every Tuesday from 3-5pm. I invite you to drop by and chat.
Apr: Barnes and Noble Cafe, Vernon Hills Shopping Center, Eastchester
May: Red Mango, 1924 Palmer Ave, Larchmont. (A departure from coffee -- let's try a fruit smoothie!)






NOTES
  • The two Common Reads for 2017-18: HERE.
  • Of particular note, regarding Centering: See recommended reading HERE.
  • On the Journey, April: Faith. HERE.
  • Sun Apr 29. A SPECIAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING HAS BEEN CALLED to vote on the proposal that Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation takes the following Position on Escalating Economic Inequity . . . read the position HERE -- it's about a 10-minute read.

    This Week's e-Communitarian

    R.E. News: Apr 8

    Music: Apr 8

Guided Meditation for Relaxing into Awe

Practice of the Week
Guided Meditation for Relaxing into Awe

Category: Occasional. These are practices suggested for "every once in a while." Some of them are responses to a particular need that may arise; others are simply enriching occasional enhancements to the spiritual life. All of them are worth a try at least once. And any of them might become a regular and central part of your spiritual practice.

from Jonathan Robinson, Find Happiness Now, adapted and abridged


For this guided meditation, have a friend read to you the meditation below. (Later on, return the favor by reading it to them.) Or read the paragraph aloud into a recorder or smartphone. To experience the meditation, you'll need to close your eyes and follow the spoken words -- so you'll need either a friend or a recording of yourself.

There are a number of long pauses, so it should take about five to seven minutes for the meditation. You can make it longer if you like, adding your own words or waiting longer at the pauses -- but making it shorter will limit its effectiveness.

Read the words slowly and gently -- very slowly. When it says "pause", take about one minute of quiet before proceeding to the next words.

Find a comfortable position, close your eyes, and let the guided meditation begin.

The Meditation
* * *
Take a slow deep breath.
On the exhale, breathe out with a long, slow sighing sound.
Do this four times.
On the fourth exhale, let your jaw just drop open.
Allow your entire face to completely relax.
   (Pause.)
Focus on your jaw.
Notice any subtle tension or holding.
As you notice any holding, try to let it all go.
It might be helpful to yawn if you notice it feels tight or if you can't tell if there is any tension.
When your jaw feels relaxed, bring attention to relaxing the rest of your face.
   (Pause.)
Once again, become aware of any tightness.
As you notice it, gently allow it to completely let go.
As you let go of all the tension in your face and your being, you may notice you feel new sensations of being part of something else.
You can't effort your way into your soul.
You can only relax all resistance to being you soul.
   (Pause.)
As you let go of all tension, effort, and thoughts, you will merge more fully with the present moment.
When you completely relax your sense of self and become totally present, what remains is your pure awareness.
   (Pause.)
If you want, you can slowly open your eyes, keeping your jaw face, and entire body fully and completely relaxed.
Imagine you just arrived into this body, and you are looking out your eyes for the first time.
Behind the veils of who you think you are, there is pure awareness and love.
Allow yourself to let go and merge with your spiritual essence.
   (Pause.)
Take as much time as you need to become aware of the room you're in.
When you're ready, slowly stretch and move your body.
Stand up, and proceed with your day.
* * *
As with most forms of meditation, with practice you'll become better at it. It can be challenging to realize how much tension you hold, yet you'll soon find you're able to let it all go much more quickly than at first.

Why This Guided Meditation?

One manifestation of a higher level of being is the experience of awe. When you imagine someone being in a state of awe, how do you picture her or him? Most people report they imagine a person with their jaw hanging open, and a completely relaxed look on their face. Recently, I had the thought, "If I totally relaxed my jaw and face, I wonder if that might trigger a spiritual experience?" To my pleasant surprise, it did!

The first thing I noticed as I tried to completely relax my jaw was that it was very difficult to do. People hold a lot of tension in their face without even realizing it. By attempting to completely let go of the tightness in your jaw, you'll become aware of subtle tensions throughout your face.

In some forms of meditation, there is some precise thing to focus on -- such as a mantra or a candle flame. In this guided jaw-dropping meditation, the goal is to focus on the tension in your jaw and face. As you become aware of any tightness or holding and attempt to gently let it go, you can reach a level of subtlety where you see that even each thought creates a slight tension in your face.

People report different effects from this meditation. Some folks report that it's a powerful way to relax their entire body and mind in just a few minutes. Others say it triggers profound "mystical states." On many occasions I've had the experience of letting go of my separate sense of self, and for a moment, merging with what felt like a "warm pool of loving energy." It can be quite exhilarating! When we let go of the "tension" of being a separate "ego," it's possible to merge with pure awareness itself.

When you can completely relax your jaw and face, and open up to the present moment, you'll be left in an exquisite state of awe.

* * *

RE News: Sun Apr 22

Lifespan Religious Education
It is powerful to have an experience that reminds you that you are not alone, especially in the context of your hopes for the world. This Sunday is Earth Day and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to celebrate with our fellow Westchester UUs. In addressing climate reality this Sunday, we can feel the power of our combined voices. Children always find it eye-opening to realize that Unitarian Universalism is not just within our walls and there are other people in the world who share their faith. Our special Earth Day program brings us together for worship, RE, environmental justice, and racial justice. It follows on the footsteps of the high school Youth Con being hosted at CUUC. It will be quite a weekend and a wonderful reminder that we are greater together, than alone.

Please see the following six (6) announcements:

1) This Sun Apr 2 - Service starts at 10:30
Multi-congregation Earth Day Event
All ages start in sanctuary and leave for special RE program after Story for All Ages.
8th-9th graders who did not attend the Murray Grove Retreat are asked to attend the makeup class, 10:30-12

RE Earth Day Climate Reality Program: Why We Must Change; How We Can Change; Committing to Change
We will help children and youth understand what is happening to our planet and to realize that each of us has agency to do something to save it.

Pre-K-5th grade program includes:
  • Green Hands: Making Seed Balls - compost, clay and water get mixed, rolled into balls with seeds, and put into paper bags
  • Green Spirit: Floor map canvass to decorate and play on
  • Green Minds: Videos about the soil connection and thank you letters for the Westchester compost program
  • Green Hearts: Seeing the compost process with compost critters
6th-9th grade program includes:
  • Climate Reality slide show
  • Carbon offset game: spin the wheel and see how you do
  • Recycling Relay
  • Letter writing campaign for food scrap composting in the county
Youth Group program includes:
  • Video about Climate Reality
  • Discussion of the issues
  • Letter writing campaign for food scrap composting in the county
To view the Religious Education Google calendar, CLICK HERE.
To view a spreadsheet version of the RE Calendar, CLICK HERE.

2) UU Common Read Discussion of Centering This Sun Apr 22, 11:40
After the all-county UU worship service, we will gather for an important discussion of Centering: Navigating Race, Authenticity and Power in Ministry, experiences of religious professionals of color in Unitarian Universalism.

Join your fellow UUs for this racial justice and welcoming congregation conversation. We will share our reflections on what we heard in the stories of religious professionals of color.

Facilitated by Jeff Tomlinson and Chandeerah Davis, Youth Program Coordinator.

3) Bingo Night!
April 27 at 6:30
A night of pizza and community fun!
Help us out by donating a gift to our collection of prizes.
All ages welcome! $5/adult; $3/child; $15/family max.
RSVP: cuucevents@gmail.com

4) The 6th Annual Variety Show is Coming!
Sat May 12, 5pm
(pizza for performers at 4:30pm)

Rehearsal - Fri, May 11, 4:30-7pm
(snacks provided)

Proceeds from this year's show will go to:
The New American Children’s Cultural Enrichment Fund.
This fund gives the children of refugees in Westchester County the opportunities they have not had to play sports, attend performances, or explore the arts.

DECIDE HOW YOU WILL PARTICIPATE.
  • Perform - contact Liz at elizabethsuvanto@hotmail.com
  • Bake - contact Erin at fosterblatt@gmail.com
  • Submit Recipes – contact Irene at irene.cox@gmail.com
  • Include 1 recipe with your own introduction/description/story (up to 200 words) and a photo of you/your family in the kitchen or elsewhere
  • Donate Raffle Prizes - contact Liz at elizabethsuvanto@hotmail.com
  • (previous prizes: restaurant gift certificates, bouquets of flowers, wine, movie gift cards, games for kids (new only), chocolate and many more. If you are soliciting donations from local businesses, a letter explaining the background of the show and CUUC can be FOUND HERE.)
The Variety Show is not just for children to partake in - this is for EVERYONE AND ANYONE AT CUUC, and other local UU congregations, and your friends outside of CUUC!

5) Unirondack Family & Friends Weekend May 25-28
Join other CUUC families at this Unitarian camp on Memorial Day weekend for family fun and connection.
A few of our families attended last year and had a great time.

For information and to register, CLICK HERE.
Contact Rebecca Rugg at rebeccaruggbiz@gmail.com to find out more from an attendee.

6) UU Summer Camps & Retreat Centers for Children, Youth, and Families
Unitarian Universalist retreat centers offer the opportunity to connect with UUs from around the country in fun and fellowship. Whether you are looking for a place to go as a family or somewhere for your kids to experience a fun camp, there are many amazing Unitarian Universalist summer destinations:

Ferry Beach is oceanfront in ME.
ferrybeach.org
The Mountain is atop the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC.
mountaincenters.org
The Rowe Center is in the Berkshire Mountains in MA.
rowecenter.org
Sophia Fahs RE Camp is one week in August on Shelter Island.
www.liacuu.org/Fahs
Star Island is a 46-acre island off the NH coast.
starisland.org
Unirondack is in the NY Adirondacks.
unirondack.org
Murray Grove is a Universalist retreat center nearby in NJ.
http://www.murraygrove.org/#!camping-in-the-grove/c15no
UUMAC Retreat is one week in July at DeSales University in PA.
uumac.org
The Central East Region offers a Summer Institute focused on climate change.
http://omdsi.org/
SUUSI is a weeklong multignerational event in North Carolina.
https://www.suusi.org/

Sincerely,
Perry
Director of Lifespan Religious Education and Faith Development

Diving into Earth Day

Cindy Davidson, Ministerial Intern

Sunday marks the 48th observance of “Earth Day,” an international day of events focused on protecting our environment. Many of those events will celebrate aspects of our natural world, many will encourage us to get outdoors or to get or become even more involved in various aspects of environmentalism, conservation or environmental justice. Some, like our upcoming joint service here at CUUC, will ask us to reflect on our place in the interdependent web of which we are a part and ponder what is ours to do not just each Earth Day but each and every day.
           
Looking to the past, credit and our thanks for designating April 22 “Earth Day” go to the late environmentalist and politician Gaylord Nelson, who served Wisconsin from 1948-1981 in the state senate, as state governor, and as US senator.  Long concerned about the effects of pollution on our air, lands and waterways, he was inspired to bring environmental protections onto the national political agenda in much the same consciousness-raising ways of the 1960’s student anti-war movement. He spearheaded a collaborative effort with others to sponsor a “national teach-in on the environment” for April 22, 1970.

Twenty million (20,000,000!) Americans coast-to-coast showed up in the streets, parks, and auditoriums, and on college and university campuses that day to protest the degradation of the environment and advocate for a healthy, sustainable environment. By the end of 1970, the US Environmental Protection Agency had been founded and acts protecting clean air, clean water and endangered species had been passed. Gaylord’s efforts were successful in part because he cultivated a focus on common concerns and worked in ways that encouraged people to transcend their political, economic, geographic, and lifestyle divides and work together to preserve and protect a clean environment for the future. 
    
A few generations later, we stand on the cusp of even more urgent environmental concerns as global warming looms not solely in the future but has begun to impact us in the present while threatening to play out more rapidly than previously predicted by many scientists. We are inundated in our daily lives with news and reports about one ecological concern or another – oil pipeline spills in our gulfs, rivers and suburban neighborhoods and on tribal lands; loss of biodiversity and habitats; ocean acidification, sea level rise, severe weather events, drought and failing crops – and despair can easily become our daily companion. It is especially good to be reminded of the roots of Earth Day, then, as we see environmental protections being rolled back and the urgent need to move boldly on climate change solutions disputed and disregarded under our current administration.

Perhaps we can take comfort and encouragement in the paths that have been trod before us to walk together into a brighter future. Perhaps we are the ones to offer to the next generation new stories of transcending divides, laboring through the difficult steps of finding common grounds despite our differences and appreciating the best of our diverse perspectives and gifts. Over the years, in my experiences with “greenies” and religious environmentalists of many faiths, I have been often reminded that we need not think or theologically believe alike to love our Earth alike, nor to act alike. In our commitment to a common good of a livable future for ourselves and generations to come, we can find and grow our strength and hope. Certainly, there is plenty of room for disagreement and stalling as experts and citizens debate strategies and tactics, yet we must not become complacent or succumb to analysis paralysis. Again and again, these words of Thich Nhat Hanh come to mind for me:
A student asked me, “There are so many urgent problems, what should I do?” I said, “Take one thing and do it very deeply and carefully, and you will be doing everything at the same time.”           
 (From “Caring for the Environmentalist” in
The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology)*
=========================
* To learn more about Nelson and the history of Earth Day, check out the “Nelson/Earth Day” website of the Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: http://www.nelsonearthday.net/nelson/. (Click on “The Nelson Collection” to take a trip down memory lane courtesy of the archives.)

* From Parallax Press, 2004. Available in paperback and NOOK Book/e-book.

2018-04-12

RE News: Sun Apr 15

Lifespan Religious Education
What could be more appropriate during the month of faith at CUUC than attending Faith Development Friday? Last month's gathering had 40 attendees, as Rev. Meredith facilitated the third session of Faith Like a River and our Family Journey Group continued. The Unitarian Universalist concept of faith is an ongoing action of discernment and discovery, in which knowledge and questioning add to the strength of our personal life compass. "Faithing," as James Fowler calls it, "is a process of wrestling meaning from life and subjecting it again and again to the scrutiny of our minds, the leap of our hearts, and the reality of action." RSVP to join us for some faithing this Fri or again on May 18.

Please see the following seven (7) announcements:

1) This Sun Apr 15
K-5th grade start in Fellowship Hall for Children's Worship that includes rehearsal of Sakura for the May 6 Flower Service.
6th-12th grade start in classrooms.

Classes
Pre-K-1 - Creating Home: Muhammad
2nd-3rd - Passport to Spirituality: England (Unitarian Universalism: Kindness to All Beings)
4th-5th - Bibleodeon: Jesus's Parables & Miracles
6th-7th – Neighboring Faiths: Buddhism Intro
8th-9th – Coming of Age: Faith Statements
10th-12th – Youth Group: Con Planning

To view the Religious Education Google calendar, CLICK HERE.
To view a spreadsheet version of the RE Calendar, CLICK HERE.

2) Faith Development Friday - Apr 13
An evening of learning, spiritual growth, and community
RSVP by 3pm to cuucevents@gmail.com

6:15pm Pizza & Salad Community Dinner
7:00pm Programs Begin...

Faith Like a River
The Wisdom RE Ministry Team invites you to an Adult RE experience facilitated by Rev. Meredith. This class explores the people, ideas, and movements that have shaped our faith heritage. What lessons do the stories of our history teach that can help us live more faithfully in the present? What lessons do they offer to be lived into the future? You may also join this program online via Zoom videoconferencing by going to https://zoom.us/j/2898507899.

Family Journey Group
Parents gather to discuss the theme of faith (facilitated by Barbara Montrose), while children have their own group with activities and discussion based on the theme (facilitated by Perry Montrose, DLRE). Adults without children are invited to participate in the parents’ group.

Youth Group Movie Night
Join us for a night of fun with fellow high schoolers and bring a friend!

Social Time for Adults
Those who would like more time to chat and just be together are welcome to continue hanging out in Fellowship Hall after the meal. Come to simply get to know your fellow CUUCers better, without specific programming.

Also stay for coffee and conversation after the programs.

3) UU Common Read Discussion Sun Apr 15, 11:40
Hosted by CUUC Wisdom Reading and Discussion Group

We will discuss Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want, one of the two books selected for this year’s Common Read. This optimistic book is for Americans who are asking, in the wake of Trump's victory, What do we do now? The answer: We need to organize and fight to protect and expand our democracy.

Facilitated by Rev. Meredith and Sabrina Cleary (clearytheory@gmail.com).

4) Let's Play
Sun Apr 15, 1-3pm, Ethical Culture Society, White Plains
Children of all ages are invited to an afternoon of street games and activities. Free. ECSW is a participating congregation in the Council for New Americans and would love to meet all the refugee families that have recently settled in the county. Please spread the word—and bring your family, too! Contact: Sabine Salandy, director of education (SabineSalandy@ethicalculturesocietywestchester.org). FLYER FOUND HERE.

5) Bingo Night!
April 27 at 6:30
A night of pizza and community fun!
Help us out by donating a gift to our collection of prizes.
All ages welcome! $5/adult; $3/child; $15/family max.
RSVP: cuucevents@gmail.com

6) The 6th Annual Variety Show is Coming!
Sat May 12, 5pm
(pizza for performers at 4:30pm)

Rehearsal - Fri, May 11, 4:30-7pm
(snacks provided)

Proceeds from this year's show will go to:
The New American Children’s Cultural Enrichment Fund.
This fund gives the children of refugees in Westchester County the opportunities they have not had to play sports, attend performances, or explore the arts.

DECIDE HOW YOU WILL PARTICIPATE.
  • Perform - contact Liz at elizabethsuvanto@hotmail.com
  • Bake - contact Erin at fosterblatt@gmail.com
  • Submit Recipes – contact Irene at irene.cox@gmail.com
  • Include 1 recipe with your own introduction/description/story (up to 200 words) and a photo of you/your family in the kitchen or elsewhere
  • Donate Raffle Prizes - contact Liz at elizabethsuvanto@hotmail.com
  • (previous prizes: restaurant gift certificates, bouquets of flowers, wine, movie gift cards, games for kids (new only), chocolate and many more. If you are soliciting donations from local businesses, a letter explaining the background of the show and CUUC can be FOUND HERE.)
The Variety Show is not just for children to partake in - this is for EVERYONE AND ANYONE AT CUUC, and other local UU congregations, and your friends outside of CUUC!

7) UU Summer Camps & Retreat Centers for Children, Youth, and Families
Unitarian Universalist retreat centers offer the opportunity to connect with UUs from around the country in fun and fellowship. Whether you are looking for a place to go as a family or somewhere for your kids to experience a fun camp, there are many amazing Unitarian Universalist summer destinations:

Ferry Beach is oceanfront in ME.
ferrybeach.org
The Mountain is atop the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC.
mountaincenters.org
The Rowe Center is in the Berkshire Mountains in MA.
rowecenter.org
Sophia Fahs RE Camp is one week in August on Shelter Island.
www.liacuu.org/Fahs
Star Island is a 46-acre island off the NH coast.
starisland.org
Unirondack is in the NY Adirondacks.
unirondack.org
Murray Grove is a Universalist retreat center nearby in NJ.
http://www.murraygrove.org/#!camping-in-the-grove/c15no
UUMAC Retreat is one week in July at DeSales University in PA.
uumac.org
The Central East Region offers a Summer Institute focused on climate change.
http://omdsi.org/
SUUSI is a weeklong multignerational event in North Carolina.
https://www.suusi.org/

Sincerely,
Perry
Director of Lifespan Religious Education and Faith Development

Recommended Reading

Centering is one of our Common Reads (see HERE).

Chandeerah Davis (CUUC Youth Advisor) and Jeff Tomlinson (of the Social Justice Coordinating Committee) especially encourage all members to read Centering. Come to the discussion session about Centering after the service on Sun Apr 22 if you can -- but read the book even if you can't come to the discussion.

And if you can't read much of the book, Chandeerah and Jeff especially encourage reading these passages:

from Rev. Darrick Jackson:
"The intellectualism in Unitarian Universalism comes with a culture of stillness. We are expected to sit quietly in our seats, listen intently with no emotion on our faces, no movement in our bodies. We are supposed to wait until after the service to express ourselves. I grew up in a culture of engagement. We had permission to respond to the service, to say Amen when we were moved by the words or music, to clap our hands and smile and nod our heads whenever the spirit moved us. We lived the hymn "When the Spirit Says Do" every time we gathered for worship. I have had to learn to restrain myself in UU circles, which distances me from the worship. Sometimes our worship feels more like a lecture to me. The first time I preached at a UU congregation, I was unsure of how my sermon was being received because there was no visible response. It wasn't until after the service that I learned that people did enjoy the sermon. Even now, I get slightly unnerved by the lack of response. I construct my services with UU stillness in mind; any attempt at a more embodied worship feels experimental and risky instead of one of many ways worship happens. I have always loved youth and young adult worship, as those services are generally more heart- and soul-centered and invite engagement and connection.
Engaging UUs in conversation about these areas where I feel disconnected from the UU culture is hard. I often struggle with how to say something, or if it is worth it. I worry about the other person's reaction, and I have to decide if I have the energy to deal with it. Often when I engage with someone about these matters, the conversation quickly turns to them (how they feel about it, how they are not to blame, and so on); instead of engaging the issue, I'm engaging their needs."
from Rev. Lilia Cuervo:
"Once I liberate my mind, my body feels free to move, to clap, to feel alive during worship. My heart aches seeing so many people in our pews restraining their desire to give in to joy through movement, frozen by fear of judgment. That is why, in my first sermon at First Parish in Cambridge, I promised that sooner or later I would have them dancing. I fulfilled my promise, and it was a happy day for me when, during a Day of the Dead service, five couples spontaneously, one by one, proceeded to dance in the aisles to the mariachi music.
Just by being present, a minister of color not only changes the makeup of a congregation but, if allowed to exercise leadership, helps over time to create an environment in which transformation can happen in small and big ways."

From the Minister, Sun Apr 15

Coupla things:

First, we have an extra-special Earth Day service on Apr 22. It's a joint service bringing together at CUUC all five of the Westchester UU congregations (Hastings, Croton, Mt. Kisco, Mohegan Lake, and us!) All five ministers will have roles, and a combined choir will sing. I'm very excited!

Second, I'm looking for a person or two who has some expertise in Parliamentary Procedure -- Robert's Rules or alternative. A subcommittee of our Board is exploring options for rules of procedure. Can you help?

Glad to see April finally beginning to warm up a little bit!

In love,
Meredith

In case you missed it . . .

Here's a small part of the Apr 8 Passover Seder service:



The Liberal Pulpit. The Liberal Pulpit is a YouTube Channel HERE! Videos include the sermons starting on Feb 25.

Index of past sermons: HERE. Index of other reflections: HERE.







Practice of the Week. Ecospiritual #5: Cogs in the Machine. Too many negative headlines about the environment can cause people to disengage from the debate altogether, believing that it is entirely beyond our control and influence. However, despite the risk of disengagement on the part of some, the first step toward recovering from our collective addiction to consumptive and polluting culture is recognition of the extent of our powerlessness.





Your Moment of Zen. Ordinary Morality. Porcupine came by one day looking troubled. Raven called down to her from the tall spruce. "What's up, Porcupine?" Porcupine said, "I'm hearing rumors from my old friends that Coyote Roshi is violating even ordinary morality." Raven flew down to her side and said, "She has this urge to prey on newborn lambs." READ MORE...

Zen Practice at CUUC: Sat Apr 14




Minister's Tuesday Coffee Chat. I'm at a coffee shop (almost) every Tuesday from 3-5pm. I invite you to drop by and chat.
Apr: Barnes and Noble Cafe, Vernon Hills Shopping Center, Eastchester
May: Red Mango, 1924 Palmer Ave, Larchmont. (A departure from coffee -- let's try a fruit smoothie!)






NOTES
  • The two Common Reads for 2017-18: HERE.
  • Of particular note, regarding Centering: See recommended reading HERE.
  • On the Journey, April: Faith. HERE.
  • Sun Apr 29. A SPECIAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING HAS BEEN CALLED to vote on the proposal that Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation takes the following Position on Escalating Economic Inequity . . . read the position HERE -- it's about a 10-minute read.

    This Week's e-Communitarian

    R.E. News: Apr 8

    Music: Apr 8

Cogs in the Machine

Practice of the Week
Cogs in the Machine

Category: Ecospiritual. These practices are oriented toward developing our spirituality through our connection with our planet home and our responsibility to care for it.


Part of coming face to face with reality is realizing how much of our collective situation is truly out of individual control. We live embedded within systems over which we have no power. We are citizens of a country whose government may do things – wage war, impose taxes, pass laws – with which we disagree. We may protest or work to elect people whose actions may better reflect our own opinions, but there is a limit to our influence, individually or as a group. Even if we dedicate our lives to a particular cause, there are a thousand other equally worthy causes that won’t receive our attention.

Every aspect of our lives – the food we eat, the cars we drive, the places we work, even the toilets we flush – has an impact on the environment, and precious little is within any appreciable individual control.

This can be disheartening and result in apathy. Too many negative headlines about the environment can cause people to disengage from the debate altogether, believing that it is entirely beyond our control and influence. However, despite the risk of disengagement on the part of some, the first step toward recovering from our collective addiction to consumptive and polluting culture is recognition of the extent of our powerlessness.

Consider this story: Once upon a time, “Mr. Green” wanted to live an eco-friendly lifestyle. He worked for Giant Megacorp Industries and wasn’t very happy about it, but he had children to support and jobs are hard to come by, so off to work he went. He recycled all he could at home and made sacrifices to save money for solar panels on his house. But he still worked for GMI and felt he couldn’t afford to quit. One day, GMI sent Mr. Green across the country on a big jet plane to an important convention where they served him factory-farmed food for his dinner. Every day, he handed out free goodies made of plastic to potential clients. He stayed at a Big Fancy Hotel where they changed his sheets and towels even when he told them not to do it. Mr. Green went home after the convention feeling guilty. He wanted to hep GMI become more eco-friendly, but his boss, Mr. Bigshot, didn’t care.

Sound familiar? There are thousands of Mr. and Ms. Greens out there today, doing the best they can in the real circumstances of their lives. We can accomplish a lot through individual choices, but we need to be aware of systems that are beyond our control. To change them, we may need to change laws, but more importantly we need to change the culture as a whole.

Decades ago, heavy smoking was commonplace. It was sophisticated and sexy. Today, non-smoking is the norm in the US and Europe. Why the change? Studies convincingly demonstrated the health harms of smoking, and laws were slowly changed accordingly. More important was the change that took place in the culture. Smoking is no longer the mark of glamour or status it once was. Attitudes shifted.

To change the Earth-destroying systems that are beyond our control, we need to experience a soul-deep cultural attitude shift and rediscover the sacredness of the Earth. We have the scientific understanding – but attitudes have not yet substantially shifted. Planet-destroying, do-what-I-want attitudes will need to give way to Earth-restoring behavior the same way that smoke-filled offices gave way to cleaner indoor air. Facing up to the way things really are is a critical first step toward making the deep changes our society so desperately needs.

Practices

1. The Roller Coaster. When you have some time when you won’t be disturbed, imagine you are getting into a roller coaster. As you visualize, engage your whole body. You sit, and the bar comes down. You’re strapped in. As the coaster begins to move, you realize there’s no turning back. Imagine yourself on the slow, jerky climb, the stomach-churning downward rush, the wind in your hair, the twists and turns. Now, imagine that instead of stopping, the ride keeps on going, on and on. You feel queasy, but people around you seem to be having fun. You can’t get off. Slowly, one by one, others start to feel sick like you do, and together you shout to the people in the control booth. Ride the coaster in your mind a while and think about all that is out of your control. The coaster is our culture. Are we shouting yet?

2. Ritual of Release. Obtain a fireproof bowl and at least a dozen slips of paper. Place the bowl on your altar, and over the course of a week or so, write down some of the Earth-threatening things that are out of your control. For example, you might write “illegal logging in the rainforest,” or “overfishing the world’s oceans.” As the bowl fills over the course of the week, spend a few minutes each day just being at your altar. Sit beside it and contemplate all that is implied by the items in the bowl. After a week, take the bowl outside and carefully burn the papers, symbolically releasing what you cannot control. Add the ashes to your garden.

Group Activities

Group Ritual of Release. Ask each group member to write down one example of threats to the Earth that are beyond the group’s control and add it to a large bowl. Spend some time sharing as a group, then take the bowl outside and burn the papers. Invite everyone to sit in silence for a while.

Questions for Group Conversation:
  • Have you every felt swept up by circumstances beyond your control? Is this experience a product of contemporary culture?
  • Have you ever consciously done something harmful to the Earth simply because it was easy? Did you feel guilty afterwards?
  • What charitable organizations do you support. What can you do to help their work?
  • What is it about the system of government under which you live (national, state, local) that makes it difficult to bring about cultural change?

* * *

Previous Ecospiritual Practice: How Much Is Enough?
Next Ecospiritual Practice: Industrial Civilization and Everyone Else

2018-04-11

Music: Sun Apr 15

Solo piano works by female composers are featured in the morning’s Centering Music and Offertory, in an attempt to give voice to the creativity of artists frequently overshadowed by their male colleagues and family members. Many of Fanny Mendelssohn’s works were originally published under her brother Felix’s name, and Clara Wieck Schumann aborted her own trajectory as a composer in favor of promoting her husband Robert’s piano music. French composer Cecile Chaminade, a gay woman, was by contrast a more independent figure, whose “Scarf Dance” has been a favorite among pianists for many generations. Amy Marcy Beach, known more popularly by her married name Mrs. H. H. A. Beach, was a prodigiously gifted pianist who is considered one of the great composers of America’s Second New England School, which flourished in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Soprano Kim Force is also on hand with two moving selections offered in solidarity with the Me Too movement.

Read on for programming details.

Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Mélodie, Op. 4, No. 2
                                    Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel
Sérénade, Op. 29
Pièce Romantique, Op. 9, No. 1
                                    Cécile Chaminade
Mazurka, Op. 6, No. 3
                                    Clara Wieck Schumann
With Dog Teams, Op. 64, No. 4
                                    Mrs. H. H. A. Beach

Opening Music: Kim Force, soprano
Silent All These Years                        
                                                Tori Amos

Offertory:
Scarf Dance, Op. 37, No. 3
                                           Chaminade

Interlude: Chris Force, piano
Til It Happens To You
                                                Diane Warren and Stefani Germanotta