2018-05-31

The Call is to Work for Justice


                                                                          Cindy Davidson, Ministerial Intern

My last Sunday as your ministerial intern is June 17 – just three services away! In fact, this Sunday will be my last opportunity to serve as your Worship Associate. As we near the end of this chapter in my ministerial formation (the book is long, I’m told), I am remembering that I first met you in that Worship Associate role on March 20, 2016. I arrived from out of town, by Meredith’s invitation and the Board’s approval, helped lead the service (an audition of sorts!), mingled during social hour, and briefly interviewed with several leaders. My presence confirms we struck a deal, and I happily moved to White Plains and began working that August.

Beginning with that first meeting and throughout my time here, and the years of seminary studies, I’ve been asked time and time again, “To what is your call -- Parish or Community ministry?”

My call to ministry certainly has its deepest roots in a commitment to honoring our Seventh Principle and working towards a livable future by addressing environmental and climate injustices. My years of experience serving as a lay leader in my home congregation and as a Board member of our UU Ministry for Earth were important ones in laying the groundwork to my decision to pursue the call to ordained ministry, both within and beyond my environmental “niche.” My two years here at CUUC as your ministerial intern have been equally formative ones; you have challenged me to engage with a broader range of interconnected justice issues, and to grow my skills in worship, education, pastoral care and leadership. You have patiently supported me in my own discernment. And for that, I am grateful.

That question, though, keeps coming up! “So, what are you thinking now? Parish or Community ministry?” These days, I prefer to respond not with a “Parish” or a “Community,” but with a “Yes, and…” (Improv, anyone?). Ultimately, I yearn for a future either blending or alternating between the two and so these days I am considering and weighing the pros and cons of both parish-based and community-based job opportunities as I move forward. Perhaps it pays to be open-minded and flexible!

Perhaps you, too, have experienced the ways our work of justice making can be done from within or outside of a congregation. I suspect our personal best decisions about where to do this work are often led either by the heart or by the circumstances of available opportunities. Our end goals of working towards justice are the same, and we learn how adapt the work to specific audiences and organizational settings. Whatever our justice focus, doing this work requires attention to our spiritual grounding and resilience, taking time for worship and reflection, and the company and support of others equally committed and engaged. I love that we find these things in vibrant and healthy congregations like CUUC.

My question for you, "Where is your heart calling you to work for justice within and beyond CUUC?"

2018-05-30

Music: Sun Jun 3


Immigrant composers to the U.S. are featured in Sunday morning’s solo piano selections.

Born in Cuba in 1943 to parents of African, Spanish, French and Chinese ancestry, Tania León immigrated to the U.S. in 1967. Her career in this country began with a stint as pianist for Dance Theater of Harlem, although she is now known as one of the most important composers of our times. Her music often reflects her Cuban roots, as well as bracingly modernist tendencies. “Momentum”, composed in 1984, shows the influence of American Blues music, with more than a hint of Conga drumming and virtuoso piano flourishes. “Variacion”, from 2012, is Ms. León’s tribute to the Goldberg Variations of J. S. Bach, the harmonic backdrop of which visits the tropics in this cross-cultural mélange. Ms. León was a featured guest at a concert on last year’s Music at CUUC series, and Music Director Adam Kent is scheduled to record her complete piano works later this month. See the links below for Adam’s interview with Ms. León at CUUC, as well as for his performances of her piano music.

Carlos Surinach was born in Barcelona in 1915 and enjoyed a distinguished career there before immigrating to the U.S. in 1950. He made his home in New Haven, CT, and is best remembered for his collaborations with Martha Graham. His three Chansons et danses espagnoles from 1950 are typical of his output in their adherence to Andalusian gypsy music and the pervasive use of the octotonic scale (a scale alternating whole and half steps). Links to Adam Kent’s performances of Surinach’s music also included below.

The CUUC Choir is also on hand, with an upbeat American Spiritual as well as an inspirational message of hope and courage. Attentive congregants will note also a bit of "musical chairs" this morning, as Choir Pianist Georgianna Pappas fills in for Choir Director Lisa N. Meyer, and Music Director Adam Kent dons the Choir Pianist's hat.

Read on for programming details.



Centering:
Momentum
Variacion
                                                         Tania León

 
Anthem: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas
Every Time I Feel the Spirit  
American Spiritual, arr. by Earlene Rentz 

Offertory:
Chanson et danse espagnole No. 3
                                                            Carlos Surinach

Anthem:
Closer to the Flame    
 Susan Boersma & David Lantz III  

2018-05-24

From the Minister, Thu May 24

"Love Resists" -- a joint campaign by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee -- is worth paying attention to. Check out their website HERE.

Particularly, let me mention the work "Love Resists" is doing to organize to end the cash bail system. Here's the word:
"On any given night in the United States, more than 450,000 people who have not been convicted of a crime are locked up in jail simply because they don't have enough money to pay bail. Universalism means no one is disposable and interdependence means that none of us are truly free as long as people are in jail. Join us on Tue May 29 at 7:30 p.m. EST for a webinar to learn how the cash bail system criminalizes people for being poor. REGISTER HERE During this webinar Unitarian Universalists and others from around the country will learn about cash bail and the growing movement to end money bond and pre-trial detention. You’ll also hear stories from people impacted by this unjust system, as well as from volunteers and staff at several community bond funds. Whether you have been part of Mama’s Day Bail Out work in the past or you are new to this issue, you will leave with ideas of how you and your congregation can contribute to local and national bond funds and support the fight to #EndMoneyBail. It’s also great preparation for the UUA General Assembly #EndMoneyBail Public Witness led by Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism!"
Free on Tue evening? Spend an hour learning how others can be free.

Yours in the faith we share,
Meredith

The Liberal Pulpit

Index of past sermons: HERE
Index of other reflections: HERE.
Practice of the Week. Get (and Keep) Your Life in Balance. The one area of our lives that doesn’t work so well is the one that affects us the most. That’s the area that, until it starts going better, is most important. Thus, having a system that reminds you to work on your weak areas is essential. With the various aspects of your life in balance, you’ll feel happier and more peaceful. You’ll spend less time distracting yourself from problems that could have been avoided. Rather than simply getting through each day, you’ll experience the abundance that comes from feeling you’re spending your time doing what’s truly important. READ MORE
Your Moment of Zen. Porcupine came again to Raven for a special interview and said, "A week ago I found that everything was completely open and clear to the very bottom, but last night I woke up for no reason and was filled with fear and panic. What's going on?" Raven said, "A week ago you realized that everything is completely open and clear to the very bottom, and last night you woke up filled with fear and panic." Porcupine hung his head and asked, "What should I do?" Raven said, "The context is not the practice." Porcupine thought for a moment and said...READ MORE
Zen at CUUC: Sat May 26
Let's Talk
One option: I'm at a coffee shop from 3-5pm (almost) every Tuesday until Father's Day. I invite you to drop by and visit with me. May 29: Sunshine Coffee Roasters, 1932 Palmer Ave, Larchmont. Jun 5 & 12: Starbucks, 2 South Greeley Ave, Chappaqua
Another option: Drop by the Minister's Study at CUUC. I'm in and available: Wed & Thu: 10-12 & 3-6 (through Jun 10)
Or: The Parsonage is open for drop-in visits on Fridays, 12:30-5.
Or: Call Pam (946-1660, x2) or me (352-682-8492) to make an appointment!

The two Common Reads for 2017-18: HERE. Of particular note, regarding Centering: See recommended reading HERE On the Journey, May: Truth. HERE.

Commencement Exercises

                                                                           Cindy Davidson, Ministerial Intern

"I did a thing ..."

I've "liked" so many Facebook posts in the last few days that began that way. Not terribly eloquent, quite a bit understated, yet so true. My fellow seminarians at Meadville Lombard and Starr King are sharing their joy and elation about graduating and having their Master of Divinity degrees finally conferred.... some of us have been at this on the five or six-year plan!

First among the things and commencement activities I did last weekend in Chicago was the graduate vespers service and dinner honoring the three recipients of honorary degrees; the highlight of the evening for me was the remarks from the honorees. Dr. Daniel O. Aleshire, recently retired executive director of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (the accreditation body), spoke about the never-ending importance and need for human ministry to address the needs of our world which artificial intelligence cannot. Hillary Goodridge, Program Director of the UU Funding Program and co-plaintiff in the 2001 Massachusetts lawsuit that won marriage equality in 2004, spoke about the importance of financial support for social justice change-makers and "keeping the gift moving." Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, Senior Minister of Cedar Lane UU Church of Bethesda, MD and Meadville alum, spoke of the challenges and imperative of ministering well from the parish in a time and world of increasing diversity and division.

Sunday morning, I skipped attending one of the several UU worship services in the area and attended our Coming of Age service courtesy of Facebook Live. (A shout-out and Thank You to those who make it happen!) I found the service moving and the statements thought-provoking. They each did a thing, didn't they?

The Commencement Service was held at First Unitarian of Chicago, a grand and stately stone structure in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey, VP for Academic and Student Affairs, delivered the commencement sermon, "Following A Circuitous Route." And, THAT's when my eyes welled up with tears, repeatedly, as she urged us to pick up the waylaid stones and pieces of our callings we'd set to the side during our studies and re-commit to moving forward on those "impossible dreams" that first led us to pursue ministry.

More on my own circuitous route in the next few weeks remaining at CUUC until the June 17th service.

In the meantime, I leave you with these questions to ponder:

What dreams have you set aside in order to accomplish other goals? How might you re-claim them?
How do you keep the gifts of your dreams and accomplishments moving in the world?
What in the world requires the best of your humanity and embodied intelligence? 

If not us, then who?


Get (and Keep) Your Life in Balance

Practice of the Week
Get (and Keep) Your Life in Balance

OCCASIONAL or WORTH A TRY: These are practices suggested for "every once in a while" -- or "give it a try." You may find it so valuable that you stick with it, and it becomes a Key Supporting Practice for you. 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.


By working with hundreds of clients in therapy, I’ve learned that people’s lives are only as good as the worst thing in their life. If someone is rich, healthy, and beautiful, but their relationships are terrible, they’ll feel rotten. The one area of our lives that doesn’t work so well is the one that affects us the most. That’s the area that, until it starts going better, is most important.

Thus, having a system that reminds you to work on your weak areas is essential. With the various aspects of your life in balance, you’ll feel happier and more peaceful. You’ll spend less time distracting yourself from problems that could have been avoided. Rather than simply getting through each day, you’ll experience the abundance that comes from feeling you’re spending your time doing what’s truly important.

1. The List of Areas to Balance

Make a list of the areas of your life that need to be in balance. My list has eight areas to keep track of. Your list will be probably be very similar, since these are widely shared, or even universal, areas in all our lives. Here’s my list:
  • Career
  • Recreation
  • Spirituality
  • Level of fulfillment
  • Bodily health
  • Family and relationships
  • Finances
  • New learning
It’s easy to get absorbed into just one or two aspects of life, and let the others fall by the wayside. Yet, to have a truly fulfilling life, it’s necessary to create a healthy balance among the competing priorities for our time.

We may look like we’re successful in the short term, but if we fail to create balance, in the long term we will either burn out or be unhappy.

2. The Monthly Review

Once a month I look at each of the eight areas of my life, and I ask myself: “How am I doing in this area? Am I spending the appropriate amount of time, energy, and attention on it?” Usually the answer is obvious.

3. The Vow

If a particular area isn’t doing so well, vow to focus on it more during the upcoming month. Write down the vow at the beginning of each month.

4. The Daily Plan

I prioritize my day before I eat breakfast. I used to sometimes forget to set up my day, so I created a little reward system for myself. As soon as I’m done figuring out what’s most important to do that day, I eat breakfast. Since I love eating breakfast (and never miss it), this simply way of rewarding myself for prioritizing guarantees that it always gets done. Then, as I look over all the things I could do during that day, I ask myself two questions.

First Question: What’s really important to do today in order to create a balanced, happy life? This simple question gets my mind focused in the right direction. It’s a much better question to contemplate than asking yourself, “What do I have to do today?” Asking about what’s important helps remind me that the bottom line in life is not how much I do or make. Instead, it’s how much of my dreams of creating joy, love, and contribution I can integrate into my day-to-day life.

Second Question: What are the seven most important things I want to make sure I get done today? I write a brainstorm list of things I’d like to do, then I prioritize them from one to seven. Frequently, I include activities that are not business related, such as buying my partner flowers, or going on a bike ride. Over time, I’ve discovered that my career has its own way of getting my attention, so I don’t have to remind myself to give time to my career. The other areas of life are more likely to require intentional prioritizing.

Whatever aspect of life you are most likely to ignore is the one that’s most important to schedule. By scheduling your workouts, time with friends, or whatever you tend to overlook, your life will soon come into greater balance.

If you don’t get everything done on your list, write it on your next day’s schedule. If you finish the top seven items before the day is over, ask yourself the two prioritization questions once again. It only takes a minute, yet its effect on your life will be immense.

Many Americans suffer from time poverty. Though our material circumstances may be well above the poverty level, and studies indicate that we work fewer hours than we did thirty years ago, we may nevertheless feel that we don’t have enough time to do all the things we need to do. We waste a lot of time doing activities that bring us little lasting value -- such as watching TV – and forget to do things that add depth and meaning to our lives. A system to prioritize every single day what’s truly important to you will allow you to master your time and life. Without such a system, we are swept into the river of distractions – and will someday look back on our life and wonder where all the time went.

* * *

RE News: Sun May 27

Lifespan Religious Education
Our Coming of Age Service last Sunday included a family COA ritual in which parents named something that they are going to let go of as their youth move from childhood into young adulthood. Their statements were reinforced by lighting flash paper in our chalice that vanished before our eyes. This action brought home the visceral feeling of letting go and connected with all the ways we need to let go in our lives. The Bridging Ceremony at the RE Sunday Service on June 10 will be another letting go ritual, showing us the stages of independence that children, and the adults in their lives, move through. Of course, as attested to by the recent story about the 30-year-old Hudson Valley man who was evicted by his parents, we know the process does not happen overnight or in a linear fashion, but our rituals help us recognize the need to shift the orientation of the relationship as the stages of life unfold.

Please see the following four (4) announcements:

1) This Sun May 27
All ages participate in a Fun Sunday program.

Then...

June 3 - Regular RE with review and preparation for RE Sunday. This is a great way for your child to capture the meaning of the year and what it was all about, whether having attended each week or infrequently.

June 10 - RE Sunday Service and Barbecue - Our meaningful celebration of the year in RE that includes the banner parade for all classes, children's participation in the service, and the Bridging Ceremony for high school seniors.

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

2) College Scholarship Awards
Each year CUUC offers two scholarships in the amount of $250 for our graduating seniors. One scholarship is given in honor of Sylvia Schnall-Pierorazio and the other Rev. Betty Baker, both former CUUC Directors of Religious Education.

Please send a short essay on your contributions and leadership at CUUC, with a brief explanation of how the scholarship will be used and the names of two CUUC references to dlre@cucwp.org by May 31.

3) Unirondack Family & Friends Weekend This 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.

4) 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

2018-05-23

Music: Sun May 27


In recognition of the successful renewal of CUUC’s Welcoming Congregation status, works by gay composers are featured in the morning’s Centering  and Opening Music; CUUC’s house band affirms diversity and personal authenticity in song; and our own Kim Force offers one of gay Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca’s settings of a traditional Andalusian melody, La tarara. The song, of Medieval Arabic origins, personifies a popular regional dance (the Tarara) as a young woman. Read on for programming details.

Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Barcarolle, Op. 37, No. 6
                                    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Mouvements perpétuels
Assez modéré, Alerte
                                    Francis Poulenc

Opening Music:
Moment Musical in F Minor, Op. 94, No. 3
                                                Franz Schubert


Offertory: Elias VanDette and Kim Force, vocals: Christian Force, piano
Born This Way
                                                Stefani Germanotta & Jeppe Laursen


Reading:
Casida de las palomas oscuras (Casida of the Dark Doves)
                                    Federico Garcia Lorca

Interlude:
La tarara*
                                    Traditional Andalusian, arr. by Lorca



Special Hymn: Kim Force, soprano; Christian Force, piano; Joann Prinzivalli, guitar
True Colors*
Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly
Performed by Kim Force, vocals / Christian Force, piano / Joann Prinzivalli, guitar

*The congregation is invited to sing along in the chorus:
I see your true colors shining through.
I see your true colors and that's why I love you.
So don't be afraid to let them show, your true colors.
True colors are beautiful like a rainbow.

Translation: La tarara

Refrain:

Tarara yes;
Tarara no;

Tarara, a girl
who has caught my eye

Tarara wears
a green dress
full of ruffles
and jingle bells

(refrain)

Tarara flaunts
her train of silk
over the brush
and the mint

(refrain)

Ah, crazy Tarara
moves her waist
for the boys
in the olive groves

(refrain)

2018-05-17

From the Minister, May 18

Five Features of Congregational Life
You might get spiritual development outside of congregations, 
but you won't get these anywhere else

Will congregational life in faith communities -- or all but the most conservative and reactionary forms of it -- eventually pass from the earth? I don't know. People will always have in interest in their spiritual development, but perhaps they will go to spiritual counselors who set up shop the way that psycho-therapists do. Or perhaps they'll go to spirituality classes, set up like yoga classes, or to book clubs. TED Talks could entirely replace sermons. Certain bars where the patrons sing showtunes might take the place (kinda) of the hymn-singing experience. Who knows?

There are five features of congregational life that none of these other vehicles for delivering inspiration or cultivating spiritual maturation have. I think they're worth preserving, though I notice that our culture has been growing increasingly ambivalent about them -- which is why the religiously unaffiliated numbers have been growing as they have. All combined, these five indicate a way of life that I would be sorry to see go.

1. Self-governance. Involvement with committees; democratic participation in, and approval of, the budget process; worrying about policies, procedures, bylaws; creating and leading programs. For some folks, this is not hugely appealing, but there need to be spiritual communities run by the seekers themselves. I understand -- as do most UUs today -- that the activities of self-governance form an inseparable and integral part of our path of growth and deepening.

2. Group Identity and Belonging. While we UUs ourselves are sometimes exasperated with the level of tribalism in the religious scene today, there are, nevetheless, deep satisfactions from being members of the UU tribe. That group identity and belonging would be mostly lost without congregations. While some yoga students eventually come to have a sense of themselves as yogis, that's generally pretty thin soup as identities go. People going for counseling generally derive even less sense of identity from the particular school or methodology their counselor was trained in. “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Client” is not likely to become a significant part of anyone's proudly proclaimed identity nor will it evoke much sense of belonging.

3. Family membership. Adults and their children share in congregational life. The concept of family involvement in a faith institution -- belonging together as a family rather than as separate individuals -- is an integral feature of congregational life. You don't get that with a counselor or a yoga class.

4. Caring for each other. Call it shared pastoral ministry: the love and care that congregation members show to other members – building friendships in church, visiting each other for social occasions and when one of us is sick. That sort of thing isn’t always entirely absent from, say, a close-knit, long-time book club, or a group-counseling group, but it definitely recedes into comparative insignificance without congregations.

5. Social justice action as a faith community. As with self-governance, most UUs today understand that working with fellow congregants on justice projects is an essential part of our spiritual path.

These five features of congregational life all have unhealthy, insular, cult-ish forms -- which contributes to the turn-off that increasing numbers of people find the prospect of congregational membership to be. Yet these five, in healthy versions, are deeply enriching and essential components of a good life. The "spiritual but not religious" trend misses out on them.

In Case You Missed It . . .

Click the pic for Cindy Davidson's May 13 sermon: "Truths Be Told."

For video of a number of past sermons on our Youtube channel, CLICK HERE.
The Liberal Pulpit: New this week:
Index of past sermons: HERE
Index of other reflections: HERE.
Practice of the Week. Practice for Life is Practice for Death. Death is powerful, very immediate, and a great motivator. But if you wait till the time when death is close to begin your practice, it may well be too late. It is much better to spend time in your life working on your spiritual practice so at the time of death it will be there for you. With years of practice while you’re still more-or-less healthy, when you’re dying, instead of being subject to a mind full of confusion and dread, it will be possible for you to meditate on love and compassion. READ MORE
Your Moment of Zen. Winter set in firmly, and frequent snowstorms prevented the community from meeting. One day was unseasonably warm, however, and a few members gathered for a day of zazen. In the question period, Owl said, "Many folks aren't surviving the winter, and I think all of us are reminded that we won't be here long. I'm not sure what my question is, but..." Her voice trailed off. Raven said, "Maybe there isn't a question." Mole spoke up and said, "I think there is. There's a lot of suffering in this forest. Folks are dying...READ MORE
Zen at CUUC: Sat May 19
Minister's Tuesday Coffee Chat

May 22: CANCELLED. (I'll be out of town.)
May 29: Sunshine Coffee Roasters, 1932 Palmer Ave, Larchmont. (Adjacent to the Red Mango.)
Jun 5: Starbucks, 2 South Greeley Ave, Chappaqua

I'm at a coffee shop (almost) every Tuesday from 3-5pm. I invite you to drop by and chat.

The two Common Reads for 2017-18: HERE. Of particular note, regarding Centering: See recommended reading HERE On the Journey, May: Truth. HERE.

RE News: Sun May 20

Lifespan Religious Education
The process of coming of age from a faith development perspective is a lifelong one. We are continually coming into our own as we move through various stages of life. As Unitarian Universalists, we embrace the never-ending unfolding of our spiritual evolution in which revelation is ongoing. Our 8th-9th graders will mark the culmination of their Coming of Age journey in RE this Sunday at the service they will lead. When they read their faith statements, it will not mark the end of their faith development path, only a rite of passage along the way. Each time we witness the COA Service as adults we are inspired by the youth and are reminded of our own ever-changing understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

Please see the following five (5) announcements:

1)This Sun May 20
All ages start in the sanctuary for a Wonder Box Story with the COA class, as they lead the service.

Classes
Pre-K-1 - Creating Home
2nd-3rd - Home (spiritual practice of play)
4th-5th - Bibleodeon: Jonah and making animals for the ark that Ted built)
6th-7th – Neighboring Faiths: Kiva Microfinance (https://www.kiva.org/lender/cuucwp)
8th-9th – Coming of Age Service
10th-12th – Attend COA Service

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

2) Faith Development Friday - Tomorrow, May 18
An evening of learning, spiritual growth, and community
RSVP by 3pm Fri 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 truth (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 - There is no youth social night this month. There will be one on June 15.

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) College Scholarship Awards
Each year CUUC offers two scholarships in the amount of $250 for our graduating seniors. One scholarship is given in honor of Sylvia Schnall-Pierorazio and the other Rev. Betty Baker, both former CUUC Directors of Religious Education.

Please send a short essay on your contributions and leadership at CUUC, with a brief explanation of how the scholarship will be used and the names of two CUUC references to dlre@cucwp.org by May 31.

4) 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.

5) 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

2018-05-16

Practice for Life is Practice for Death

Practice of the Week
Practice for Life is Practice for Death

Category: Slogans to Live By: Practices for everyone to keep in mind and pay attention to. These practices don't require setting aside a separate substantial chunk of time. Just have the intention to grow stronger in each of these areas as you go about your day, and sometimes make one of them the focus of your daily journaling. The titles of these practices are guiding slogans to live by.


Spiritual practice in particular, and religion in general, wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the fact that we die, and we really don’t know how to understand, cope with, or digest this fact. So even though we do spiritual practice while we are alive and for our lives, really, we do it because we die and in order to understand and cope with death, grief, and loss.

In fact, it is artificial to separate life from death. In a very concrete and down-to-earth sense, there is no such thing as “life” or “death.” Some traditions speak of “birth-and-death” as being one phenomenon, and of course it is. Time passing is birth-and-death. Moments arise and then pass away: this is one action, one moment. Loss is constant and conditions our every thought, word, and deed.

When I train caregivers for the dying in spiritual hospice care, I always tell them that the work they do isn’t about death, it’s about life. You are alive as long as you are alive, and when you are not, you are not. It’s a mistake to think of a hospice patient as “dying.” The patient is alive as long as she is alive. Truly, she is no more dying than we are. For we are dying. That’s what living is: dying a little, moment after moment.

You could say that the whole point of spiritual practice is to prepare for death. A French writer, Charles Peguy, composed one of my favorite sayings:
“A person doesn’t die from this or that disease. He dies from his whole life.”
This is certainly true. The way we live is the way we die.

The preceding five practices (“Be Determined;” “Stick With It;” “Own Your Nobility;” “Reproach Your Demons;” and “Aspire to the Impossible”) are collectively known as “The Five Strengths.” This practice – “Practice for Life is Practice for Death” – is telling us that as much as we need to practice the Five Strengths for our lives, just as much do we need to practice them for our deaths – and specifically at the time of our death.

Many people become religious or spiritual as they near death. This makes a lot of sense. When you are in bed, maybe in pain and sensing your life is now short, you are not so concerned about how to live more successfully going forward. The imminence of death has a way of grabbing your attention and changing your priorities. Everybody pays attention to his or her inner life and to questions of meaning when death is coming close (unless, that is, the person were to deny that death is close, which some can do). Death is powerful, very immediate, and a great motivator. But if you wait till the time when death is close to begin your practice, it may well be too late. It is much better to spend time in your life working on your spiritual practice so at the time of death it will be there for you. With years of practice while you’re still more-or-less healthy, when you’re dying, instead of being subject to a mind full of confusion and dread, it will be possible for you to meditate on love and compassion. It might even be possible to experience death (if this phrase makes any sense – it might not) as a process of entering unlimited love and compassion. Certainly I would never suggest to someone who is close to the end of life, “Well, have you though of entering death as a field of unlimited love?” He may well answer me, “You’re full of crap. Get out of here. I’m dying.” But if we have spent time in our life cultivating our spiritual practice until we see our whole life as practice, then it may be possible that our death can be not a tragedy but something much more. I have seen this happen.

Even in the last moments of life, you can breathe in and you can breathe out. You can breathe in the suffering and breathe out healing and relief. And when your selfishness pops up with fear and despair, you can turn around and say to it: “Ah, there you are again. I’ve been telling you to get out of here for a long time, and this time I really mean it. I’m going back to breathing. I’m going back to my meditation on love and compassion, and you see that glass of water on my bedside? You come back one more time, I’m throwing it all over you!”

Practice now, and when death approaches you may be able to remember, as you breathe in and out, all the things that you have been practicing for many years. You can remember that life is like a dream, that it has only ever been things coming and going, insubstantially, mysteriously. And that whatever form your life will take from the time of death onward, it will move in the same rhythm in which it has always moved. Such experiences are actually possible. And if you are practicing with the “Five Strengths” perhaps your practice will be there for you at the time of your own death. You will then be able to bring your practice to the bedside of family members, loved ones, and friends when they are close to death. You will be able to bring a sense of confidence and peace to those most precious moments.

Breathe in; breathe out; be where you are. All the training and teachings of spiritual practice come down to just that. So simple – yet not so easy to do. We have so many complications.

Breathing in and breathing out is an unspeakably deep process. To be alive is immense and unknowable. It’s not accident that in Latin and Greek, and in Hebrew, English, and Spanish, and probably in many other languages, the word for spirit is breath.

For Journaling

Try this prompt for your next journal entry: "When death is close, I want to be . . . " Follow-up: "In order for me to be that sort of person when death is close, I now practice . . . "

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See also: Judith Lief, Lojong Slogan #18: "The Ejection of Consciousness" -- HERE



2018-05-10

From the Minister, May 11

I’m glad to see that men who have abused or sexually harassed women are at last beginning to face punishment. Misogynist attitudes permeate our culture at all levels, though, and toppling a few at the top, while a necessary step to set a new tone of unacceptability of harassment and abuse, will need to be accompanied by broad-based attention to how our boys and girls are raised.

Yes, testosterone does make a difference. Raising or lowering anybody’s testosterone level, male or female, has affects on mood and on what gets attention and doesn't. We still have a lot to learn about its effects, but indications at this point seem to show that testosterone increases concern with one’s status. Studies, however, “refute the preconception that testosterone causes aggressive, egocentric, and risky behavior.” Testosterone “can encourage fair behaviors if this serves to ensure one's own status.” (Science Daily, 2009 Dec 9)

The toxic masculinity that has for too long been actively promoted by some and tacitly permitted by others, is not the fault of testosterone. It's the fault of an ideology of masculinity that encourages boys to be dominate. I am convinced that, indeed, dominance is the one evil at the root of all social ills. The rise of agriculture 12,000 years ago gave rise to a dominant class and put us all in service to whatever was hierarchically above us. (I write of this in more detail in two posts HERE and HERE.)

The task of replacing domination with compassion and empathy will not be easy. Domination, vicious as it is, has persisted because in some sense it has "worked": it has allowed individuals, particularly males, to get ahead. We are up against entrenched toxic masculinity: deep patterns that train boys to be dominant. Misogyny, homophobia, sexual assault, domestic violence, and sexual harassment are all about establishing and expressing dominance.

Toxic, dominant masculinity stifles emotional expression as incompatible with domination. Thus, boys taught to dominate become emotionally stunted men: damaged people inflicting damage on others.

Male concern with status has historically manifested as an interest in "honor." Honor may be too old-fashioned to be revived as a significant influence on culture today, but its opposite, shame, is as powerful as ever. Rape culture will end when men -- much closer to universally than at present -- understand sexual aggression as shameful.

Whether the influence of boys' testosterone is channeled into aggression and dominance or into, say, fighting for social justice, is up to us. I believe that a society that expects and rewards its boys to be strong in pro-social ways – a society that won’t tolerate sexual aggression -- can get what it expects.

Western culture has been lousy at teaching boys what to do with the energies and interests that testosterone nudges upward. The #MeToo movement is helping dismantle the structures that for so long have rewarded aggressive dominance. That’s a very positive development for the prospects of happier, healthier, more complete men.

In Case You Missed It . . .

Click the pic for the May 6 Prayer and Homily from our Flower Celebration service.

For video of a number of past sermons on our Youtube channel, CLICK HERE.
The Liberal Pulpit: New this week:
Index of past sermons: HERE
Index of other reflections: HERE.
Practice of the Week. Industrial Civilization and Everyone Else. While we cannot be blamed for the circumstances that led us to where we are today, we do have a responsibility to live with as much integrity and mindfulness as possible. We need to say “enough” to our leaders and to the unrealistic notion that our standard of living should constantly rise. We need to say “enough” in our individual lifestyle choices. READ MORE
Your Moment of Zen. One evening Owl said, "I've heard that the mind is the mountains, the rivers, and the great Blue Planet." Raven said, "Right." Owl continued, "And that the mind is neither tall nor short." Raven said, "That, too." Owl asked, "Then what is the mind?" Raven said, "Beans." READ MORE

Zen at CUUC: Sat May 12.
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: Sunshine Coffee Roasters, 1932 Palmer Ave, Larchmont. (Adjacent to the Red Mango.)
The two Common Reads for 2017-18: HERE.
Of particular note, regarding Centering: See recommended reading HERE
On the Journey, May: Truth. HERE.

RE News: Sun May 13

Lifespan Religious Education
There are ways in which the Variety Show is a unique, amazing event. It is a convivial gathering outside of Sunday morning that is truly intergenerational. Performers and audience members are of all ages. It is rare in life today that we hold events that bring together the generations. We have a great time and raise money for an important cause. This is the most fun you can have while raising money for those in need. Your own enjoyment is benefiting others. The show gives everyone the opportunity to perform. Children and adults who might not otherwise take the stage do so on this evening and those are moments to behold. Join us this Saturday to raise money for the New American Children’s Cultural Enrichment Fund, as we enrich our sense of beloved community.

Please see the following five (5) announcements:

1)This Sun May 13
K-5th grade start in Fellowship Hall for Children's Worship.
6th-12th grade start in classrooms.

Classes
Pre-K-1 - Creating Home
2nd-3rd - Henry Bergh (spiritual practice of kindness to all beings)
4th-5th - Bibleodeon: Women in the Bible
6th-7th – Neighboring Faiths: Kiva Microfinance (https://www.kiva.org/lender/cuucwp)
8th-9th – Coming of Age: Final Faith Statements & Service Prep
10th-12th – Youth Group

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

2) Variety Show This Sat May 12, 5pm
This is the event of the year!
Performances! Raffle! Auction! Bake Sale!

Rehearsal - Fri, May 11, 4:30-7pm
(snacks provided)
Show - Sat, May 12, 5pm
(pizza for performers at 4:30pm)

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.

Join us on Saturday to support this great cause.

3) College Scholarship Awards
Each year CUUC offers two scholarships in the amount of $250 for our graduating seniors. One scholarship is given in honor of Sylvia Schnall-Pierorazio and the other Rev. Betty Baker, both former CUUC Directors of Religious Education.

Please send a short essay on your contributions and leadership at CUUC, with a brief explanation of how the scholarship will be used and the names of two CUUC references to dlre@cucwp.org by May 31.

4) 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.

5) 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

The Founding Mothers of Mother’s Day


                                                                Cindy Davidson, Ministerial Intern

Mother’s Day is one of the most highly commercialized holidays in the United States …. greeting cards, flowers, gifts, special meals out, and long-distance phone calls make for brisk marketing and business. Are these expressions of love and appreciation obscuring the original meaning of the Day? Founding Mothers Ann and Anna Jarvis, Methodists, and Julia Ward Howe, Unitarian, would say so!

Unitarian Universalists point to Julia Ward Howe’s “Appeal to Womanhood Throughout the World” from September 1870, (“Mother’s Day Proclamation”) as the true beginning of Mother’s Day. Meanwhile, the United Methodist Church and the United Methodist Women point to the works of Ann and Anna Jarvis, a mother/daughter duo, as the true beginning. Perhaps the truth lies in the both/and.
Ann Reeves Jarvis (1832-1905) lived in coal mining Grafton, West Virginia and was the mother to between eleven and thirteen children, only four of whom survived to adulthood due to the prevalence of childhood diseases and epidemics. In response to the needs she knew and saw of suffering mothers and children, she organized Mother’s Day Work Clubs in multiple locations in the 1860s. An effective community organizer and public health advocate, she educated mothers about hydration for fevered babies, sanitation and nutrition, and also provided practical assistance in the form of medicines and health aides to those in need.

During the Civil War, a field hospital was sited outside Grafton; Ann Reeves Jarvis recruited nurses and cared herself for the wounded on both sides of the conflict. Following the war, she tried to promote reconciliation and peace between Union and Confederate Moms by forming a Mother's Friendship Day, successfully staged in 1868.

To the North, Juliet Ward Howe (1819-1910), born and educated in New York City, lived the life of an accomplished (often anonymous) writer, poet and socialite with her not-very-supportive husband in Boston and Newport, RI. The mother of five children, she had become a Unitarian and was active in the abolitionist and suffragist movements. As the Civil War broke out in 1861, Juliet and her husband worked briefly with the Sanitary Commission to support sick and wounded soldiers. (After witnessing a skirmish in Washington, she was asked by Unitarian minister James Freeman Clarke to write new and better lyrics to the patriotic song “John Brown’s Body” -- we know her poem today as the lyrics of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”)

It was not until the 1870’s, though, during the Franco-Prussian war, that Juliet Ward Howe was moved to write the “Appeal to Womanhood” and begin her peace crusade. The proclamation called for the establishment of an international Women’s Peace Congress, which Howe travelled to London to promote, unsuccessfully. She did, however, initiate a Mother’s Peace Day observance on the second Sunday in June in Boston which lasted some years.

It was not until after the 1905 death of Ann Jarvis, that efforts to establish a Mother’s Day holiday would prove far-reaching and long-lasting. Her daughter Anna Jarvis, not a mother herself, deserves the credit for organizing the “first” Mother's Day events on May 10, 1908. They took place at the church where Ann Jarvis had taught Sunday School in Grafton, WV, and at the Wanamaker’s department store auditorium in Philadelphia. The holiday spread with Anna’s public relations skills, the financial backing of well-heeled backer, and the help of the World’s Sunday School Association. Congress approved establishing a national holiday in 1914 under President Woodrow Wilson.

As the holiday soared to popularity, Jarvis became disillusioned and bitter about the crass commercialization associated with the holiday. Beginning around 1920, she urged people to stop buying flowers and other gifts for their mothers, preferring they write a simple letter instead. Later she began a door-to-door campaign in Philadelphia to collect signatures to rescind Mother’s Day.

Both Ann Jarvis and Juliet Ward Howe were convinced that women, but especially mothers, had to work for peace because they could see the ravages of war in their husbands, in their sons and in their communities. I have no doubt we need not be mothers nor men’s wives to embrace the spirit of this holiday. When we tap into our nurturing and care-taking instincts, no matter our gender, our collective work to ensure health and wellbeing for all in a peaceful world that knows war no more may be the thing to celebrate.


Extracted and Adapted from these SOURCES:

Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biographies: Article by Joan Goodwin, posted May 28, 2002.
http://uudb.org/articles/juliawardhowe.html

The Founder of Mother’s Day Later Fought to Have it Abolished, Jonathan Mulinix, May 1, 2018. http://mentalfloss.com/article/30659/founder-mothers-day-later-fought-have-it-abolished

Anna Jarvis was Sorry she even Invented Mother’s Day,
Joel Oliphant, May 8, 2015. https://www.buzzfeed.com/joeloliphint/anna-jarvis-was-sorry-she-ever-invented-mothers-day?utm_term=.qpw74b9NR#.eew0KqDl6