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Jun 7 - 13:  e-Communitarian   ☙   Minister   ☙   RE   ☙   Music   ☙   Adult RE   ☙   Practice: Once-a-Month Retreat Days (Worth a try/Occasional)

2019-06-19

Religious Education: Sun Jun 23

Am I at the Mardi Gras? I’m positive I heard a band playing “When the Saints Come Marching In.” There appears to be a parade filing in the hallway with banners and streamers. Maybe this is a celebration for Father’s Day, but of course it’s not. The Religious Education classes from nursery to 12th grade march into the sanctuary, led by the CUUC Multigen Band playing “When the Kids Go Marching In.” What was I thinking? It’s none other than the annual RE Sunday service! What a special moment, when the children and youth marched proudly in with the banners, I might add, made by them. So much was about to unfold that one wouldn’t know where to start. The scholarship award was most meaningful, with our youth and seniors honored in front of the congregation. Aine Hunt, a graduating senior, was presented with a $250 scholarship and validated that award with her reading about her faith as a UU and how much the RE program has meant to her as well as gave to her. Her words were eloquent and moving and served as a testimony of all she has accomplished and the covenant that she lives every day. Passing of the Peace was another exercise in tolerance, understanding, and kindness as the 4–5 and 6–7 grade students distributed name tag ribbons for our Preferred Pronoun Project. The classes also presented a skit about recycling that demonstrated what they had learned through our Social Justice Sunday programs. Surveys that were completed by students expressed what their favorite things were in RE. The answers were simple, truthful, funny, and ran the gamut from snacks, being with friends, not wanting to get up on Sundays, and well, you get the picture. Out of the mouths of babes, as the saying goes. The Bridging Ceremony was particularly impactful and our high school youth were well represented. Each student had the opportunity to express their gratitude and appreciation for being part of the CUUC RE program as they now move forward in life. This farewell was beautifully expressed in the reading of the Dr. Seuss book Oh, The Places You’ll Go! The Reflection and Appreciation segment of the service provided both Perry and me with an opportunity to not only say goodbye but, more importantly, to publicly recognize and honor our teachers. Perry in five years and me in only one have been honored and privileged to support a team of exceptional individuals. On that note, I applaud Perry for executing this service without any detail overlooked, as he done so well all these years. His ability to assimilate so many crucial responsibilities – faith formation leader, RE director, youth liaison, pastoral counselor, trainer, and mentor – speaks volumes of his lifelong fervor and sensitivity. Living the life of a Unitarian Universalist in all he does, personally and professionally, is as natural as the air he breathes. Thank you doesn’t seem adequate enough for all you have accomplished. There are also special words of gratitude to the RE chairs, Laura Goodspeed and Christine Haran. They have time and time again extended themselves in this experimental year, if you will, assuring the continuation and ongoing success of the RE program. They are shining examples of those who put their beliefs and dedication above even their personal needs. What a pleasure it has been to work with you.
Well, now I come to the part of my monologue that sadly is my last weekly RE synopsis. Through this writing vehicle I have been given the liberty of recapping all the RE and CUUC events, celebrations, successes, and more. Moreover, I was able to speak to everyone as though I was speaking to each of you individually. Perhaps that is why my weekly discourses have felt so personal and intimate as I shared my feelings and thoughts.
As I mentioned at the service, my tenure here has been a remarkable journey. It would not have been such if not for the support, faith, and confidence you have so generously bequeathed me. For this I am most humbled and grateful. My sincerest thanks to the Board of Trustees, Rev. Garmon, Pam Parker, RE Council, teachers, and entire congregation.
I have always held dear the belief that in leaving any professional position or even contemplating leaving this planet, I would not wish people to remember me by what I said or did, but how I made them feel. You in turn, have done that for me. I am in possession of my very own wonder box and every time I open it, I will feel special. Thank you!

Michele Rinaldi
RE Coordinator

Looking ahead...

Summer Services at CUUC
Summer Services start this Sun Jun 23. Families may attend worship together. Our nursery is staffed for young children. Regular services and religious education classes resume Sun Sep 8.

“Breakfast” Run, Sun Jun 30, 2019, 7:00am, First Unitarian Society, Hastings
Families welcome! Breakfast Runs are the perfect time to introduce kids to the practice of service to others. Join us as we prepare food, pack clothes, and distribute and interact with people who are homeless in NYC. Donations appreciated. Contact: Art Lowenstein (arthur.lowenstein@gmail.com, 914-844-4189).

NYC Pride March, Sun Jun 30, New York City
UUCHV, the UU congregation in Croton, will be leading the contingent of Westchester UUs in the Pride March. They invite us to join them! Meet up is at 31st St between Mad and Park by 12:30pm.

$500 Voucher toward UU Camp
Sophia Fahs RE Summer Camp, Sun Aug 18 - Sat Aug 24, Camp Echo, Burlingham, NY
After 38 years on Shelter Island, the Sophia Fahs Camp has moved to Camp Echo in Burlingham, NY. Thanks to a special grant, a limited number of $500 VOUCHERS are available to NEW CAMPERS. Vouchers are first come/first served. Deadline Jul 1 2019. To request a voucher, email ​sophiafahs@gmail.com or contact the CUUC office.

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:

2019-06-15

From the Minister, Sat Jun 15

The Buddha comes to town, and a farmer comes to see him and starts complaining about his problems. His wife this, his children that. The ox is sick; the soil is poor; there hasn’t been enough rain and, if there were, the roof would leak. The people to whom he sells his rice are cheating him.

The Buddha stops him and says, "You have 83 problems."

The farmer says, "That sounds about right. How do I fix them?"

Buddha says, "I can't help you. You’ll always have 83 problems. Maybe you solve one, or it goes away on its own, but another pops up to take its place. Always 83 problems."

The farmer says: "Well, what good are you?"

Buddha says, "I can help with the 84th problem."

The farmer says: "What’s the 84th problem?"

Buddha says, "You think you should have no problems."

For the person with good boundaries, problems don’t bother them. Problems arise. One responds to them as well as one can. This is life. Whether you call them problems or challenges, there’s always the next one to meet.

Having good boundaries doesn’t keep out your 83 problems, but it does keep out the 84th problem. With good boundaries, your problems don’t define you; you aren’t consumed with the thought that you shouldn’t be having this problem.

The 84th problem is the extra. Your problems (or challenges) are enough by themselves; you don't need to add anything extra. But we often do add extra problem to our problems. Whenever we're annoyed by the problem, when we think it's wrong that the problem exists, when we let the problem trigger our reactivity and upset our equanimity, we are adding extra problem to our problem. Good boundaries keep out the extra.

Yours in the faith we share,
Meredith

Practice of the Week: Come Back to Basics Keep commitments, don't be outrageous, and be patient and fair. On the spiritual path, over and over again it is a good idea to keep coming back to a few basic principles. By doing so, you can bound your actions with discipline. You can keep your practice on track. READ MORE

Your Moment of Zen: Are You Ready? In #87, Raven said, "Things just come in. Do you listen, or do you hear? When you listen, you are paying attention to something out there, but when you hear, the sounds just come in. You are sitting there with your ears open, and the dove calls out. That sound defines you. Once you are defined like that, the cedars can define you, the faraway skunk can define you."

The whole universe continually defines you.

Case
After Raven's response to Mole [see PREVIOUS], the community fell silent.
Finally, Woodpecker spoke up: "A while back you said that the call of the dove defines us, and now you say that when Owl hoots, the whole forest hoots. I'm confused. Do the two sounds have different functions?"
Raven said, "When Owl hoots, the whole forest hoots. Are you ready to be defined?
Verse
"Ready or not, here I come," says Definition,
And I, having not found a satisfactory hiding place,
Dive behind a near and inadequate concealment.

Pretending otherwise, I have long since been found.
Pretending otherwise, I relish re-discovery.
Pretending otherwise, Definition is neither ready
Nor not.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven Index   ☙   Zen Practice at CUUC

2019-06-14

Come Back to Basics

Practice of the Week
Come Back to Basics

Keep Commitments, Don't be Outrageous, Be Patient and Fair

Category: Slogans to Live By: Carry these reminders at all times. These practices don't require setting aside a separate substantial chunk of time -- but they will slow you down a bit (and that's a good thing.) Resolve to get stronger at living by these maxims, day by day. Sometimes make one of them the focus of your daily journaling.


As soon as we are embroiled in a problem with someone else, our good spiritual intentions tend to dissolve. Nothing is so apt to pull us away from the basics of spiritual awareness as relationship with others. When our lives get powerfully drawn into the lives of others, and those others awaken our desire, our rage, our shame, or our fear, we immediately lose track of what we are doing. There's no distraction like a human relationship.

To turn the distraction of relationship into the discipline, the spiritual practice, of relationship, we come back to basics.

Come back to basics comprises three points.

First: Renew and keep to your commitments. Nothing is more common than the person who does spiritual practice for a long time with great commitment and intensity but completely forgets about it as soon as he or she gets singed by the heat relationship. When you keep in mind that your human life and the lives of others are rare and precious, that you and everyone else has to die someday, that no one escapes suffering, and that all of your words and deeds, and even thoughts and feelings, have big impacts on the world – when that is part of what you are aware of when you are aware of conflict with others, things change somewhat. These reflections may take the edge off your hurt or aggression and reframe for you what you are dealing with. Recall your original intention to take up mind training. Recall the firmness of your decision to do so.

Second: Don't act outrageously. In ancient India and Tibet, this meant things like don't chop down trees where spirits dwell, don't pee in rivers, don't hug lepers. That is, refrain from dangerous, anti-social, or attention-grabbing activities, outrageous things that would draw attention to you. This may seem an odd thing to bring up in this context, but maybe not. Possibly up to now we have been tempted a time or two to be a bit precious or overearnest about our spiritual endeavors. We may have felt a bit holier-than-thou more than once. This is no good in any case, but perhaps not so bad in the privacy of your own mind. But now that we are about to embark on the practice of interacting with others, it becomes really bad to come off as though we were holy and spiritual. As if somehow because of the virtue of our commitments and spiritual efforts, we are conducting ourselves differently from the general run of humanity. Clearly this would be a huge problem for our relationships. Nothing makes people feel criticized and even a little hostile like someone else's pretentious efforts to be good. So, Don't act outrageously. Keep your efforts to practice the discipline of human relationship within the bounds of ordinary human interaction. Don't appear to be different from anyone else. One way or another, we're all in this game together.

Third: Don't be one-sided. This one is very important in human relations, and it runs exactly counter to the usual way we approach things. Usually we are exactly one-sided: there's our side and the other person's side, and it's our side that is important, correct, or right, so much so that we may not even notice that there is another side. But there's always another side. This may be so, but that also may be so. This may be so today, but tomorrow it may not be so. If there's a side, there's always another side. Don't be one-sided has another sense too: Don't favor people you like over people you don't like. Try not to be one-sided in that way. This seems impossible and inadvisable. Are we really supposed to regard an acquaintance or an enemy the same way we regard our close friends, our spouse, and our children? Realistically, no. But that's not the point. The point is to notice how much in almost all of our encounters we are subtly prejudiced by our one-sidedness, constantly upholding ourselves and those we like and running down (in however small a way) those we don't like. These prejudices, which we take for granted and affirm, actually cause us more trouble than we realize. They create a subtle climate of preference, for and against, that gives rise to more of our interpersonal rough spots than we realize. So even though we may not be able to have equal feelings toward all, this slogan puts us on notice that we better take our one-sidedness into account and do what we can to deemphasize it.

* * *


On the spiritual path, over and over again it is a good idea to keep coming back to a few basic principles. By doing so, you can bound your actions with discipline. You can keep your practice on track. The three basic principles to always abide by are: honor your commitments, refrain from outrageous actions, and develop patience.

Honor your commitments. When you make a commitment to train your mind, do not back down but stick with it. Keep the two basic vows of mind training: the refuge vow (to work with yourself and to develop mindfulness and awareness) and the bodhisattva vow (to work with others and to develop wisdom and compassion). When you first take such vows, they are highly inspiring and a bit intimidating, but it is easy to drift away and forget what you have vowed to do. So it is important to refresh those commitments daily.

Refrain from outrageous actions. Be steady and modest. Don't be overly dramatic and don't draw attention to yourself. Recognize the desire to be seen as special, to be noticed as “advanced” or “spiritual” as a stumbling block, and do not give in to its seduction.

Develop patience. Mind training is not something you zoom through and then move on to something else. It is a lifelong occupation. Be patient and without bias as you go about it, both with yourself and with others. Know yourself and do not think more or less of yourself, but be straightforward, steady and realistic.

Practice

In your journal, reflect on these questions: What does it mean to make a commitment? What helps you to maintain the commitments you have made, and what throws you off track?

* * *

Religious Education: Sun Jun 16

The last few weeks have flown by with the flurry of activities, emails, scheduling, rehearsals, etc., always associated with the closing of the RE school year. With RE Sunday still unfolding in preparation and waiting in the wings, last Sunday culminated in the much loved Affirmation Ceremony for our 2nd–3rd grade class. In spite of the frantic pace of assuring everything was in place, notwithstanding a “crunch” rehearsal of their skit only 15 minutes before service, the teaching team and children worked together like a hand in glove and seamlessly rose to the occasion. The skit focused around the story, “The Wise Sailimai,” which focuses on the 7 Principles of Unitarian Universalism. There was no stage fright to be sure as every one of our 9 students had a line or more to read, with their teachers serving as stage moms and dads. At the completion of the skit, the highlight of the ceremony was the awarding of certificates to each student. One only had to look around to witness the excitement on their faces and the pride and joy exhibited by their parents and families. Rather than repeat my intro about affirmation and the children’s new life journey, you can read it HERE while I take this opportunity to share some thoughts with you. The service and ceremony last Sunday, June 9, certainly spoke to me on many levels. It became crystal clear that all of us gathered together with the teachers and children bore witness to much more than the affirmation of these young children. Providing love, support, and encouragement to them in RE affirmed our belief in their potential and curiosity. The teachers in their incredible unwavering dedication and commitment to our curriculum, along with talent, ingenuity, and enthusiasm, affirmed their place as role models for our young children. We as a congregation or family affirmed success in how our children are raised, we affirmed our hope for their future by gathering to honor them, we affirmed that the children are the product of faith and conviction that goodness and purity of soul transcends any negativity. That Sunday was the affirmation of a undivided community that loves, a community that lives as a role model for our children and youth, and sets that standard or bar so very high for truth and honesty that it reaches the sky. Not so far that it is out of reach, but instead always held firmly in our hearts and hands. I would be remiss in not expressing my great admiration and gratitude to the 2nd–3rd grade teaching team for their very own exceptional performance. On behalf of the children, thank you Norm Handelman, Doreen Rossi, Deb Margoluis, Karen Leahy, Jason Stoff, and Aaron Norris!

Michele Rinaldi
RE Coordinator

Looking ahead...

RE This Sunday, Jun 16 - RE Sunday Service
Our multigen worship celebration of the year in Religious Education that includes:

• Banner parade for all classes to start the service
• Participation by all ages
• Special music from the children and youth
• Bridging ceremony for graduating senior youth

Grades 4-7 meet in Fellowship Hall at 9:15. All others start in the sanctuary at 9:30 sharp!.

Faith Development Friday, Fri Jun 14, CUUC
Our evening of learning, spiritual growth, and community. 6:15pm Pizza & Salad Community Dinner; 7:00pm Programs; 8:30pm Coffee. Programs include “Faith Like a River” Adult RE and Family Journey Group. All are welcome to stay after the programs to share coffee and a chat. RSVP to CUUCevents@gmail.com by Fri 12:00 noon so we know how much pizza to order. And please stay after to help us clean up - many hands make light work!

RE Party for Michele Rinaldi & Perry Montrose, Sun Jun 16, 11:30am, Fellowship Hall
After our Religious Education Sunday service, join us at a party to thank Perry and Michele for all their hard work on our RE program this year and to bid them a fond farewell. We wish them both all good things in the future!

“Breakfast” Run, Sun Jun 30, 2019, 7:00am, First Unitarian Society, Hastings
Families welcome! Breakfast Runs are the perfect time to introduce kids to the practice of service to others. Join us as we prepare food, pack clothes, and distribute and interact with people who are homeless in NYC. Donations appreciated. Contact: Art Lowenstein (arthur.lowenstein@gmail.com, 914-844-4189).

NYC Pride March, Sun Jun 30, New York City
UUCHV, the UU congregation in Croton, will be leading the contingent of Westchester UUs in the Pride March. They invite us to join them! Meet up is at 31st St between Mad and Park by 12:30pm.

$500 Voucher toward UU Camp
Sophia Fahs RE Summer Camp, Sun Aug 18 - Sat Aug 24, Camp Echo, Burlingham, NY
After 38 years on Shelter Island, the Sophia Fahs Camp has moved to Camp Echo in Burlingham, NY. Thanks to a special grant, a limited number of $500 VOUCHERS are available to NEW CAMPERS. Vouchers are first come/first served. Deadline Jul 1 2019. To request a voucher, email ​sophiafahs@gmail.com or contact the CUUC office.

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:

Music: Sun Jun 9

Scenes of Childhood through the eyes of the German composer Robert Schumann and the Brazilian Octavio Pinto are featured in Sunday morning's Centering Music. Another Brazilian composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos, furnishes the Offertory music, in the form of his piano suite A prole do bebe (Baby's Family). The collection is meant to depict different sorts of dolls children might play with, each representing a distinct ethnic group as part of the country's diverse cultural heritage. "O Polichinelo" is a portrait of the rambunctious "Punch n' Judy" dolls from the Commedia dell'arte tradition.

Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano

From Kinderszenen, Op. 15
          Happy Enough
          Important Event
          Knight of the Hobby-horse
                    Robert Schumann

Scenas Infantis
          Run, Run!
          Ring-around-the-Rosy
          March, Little Soldier!
          Sleepy Time
          The Hobby-horse
                    Octavio Pinto

Processional:
"When the Kids Go Marching In"

Special Music: R.E. Students directed by Lyra Harada
"It's a Small World"
          Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, words and music

Offertory:
From A prole do bebe (Baby's Family)
          "O Polichinelo"
                    Heitor Villa-Lobos

2019-06-11

Adult RE, Jun 10-16

Adult RE
at
Community UU

All are welcome. No registration, and you need not have attended previous sessions. Drop-ins welcome!

Thu Jun 13 at 11:30-1:00, Fireplace Area: Science and Spirituality. We'll be discussing Carlo Rovelli, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics -- in particular, the first half of this short book (i.e., pp. 1-38; "Preface" through "Fourth Lesson."
With shared luncheon. Bring something to share if you can easily do so.

* * *

Fri Jun 14, Faith Development Friday. 6:15p: Pizza & Salad Community Dinner
7:00p - 8:30p Programs.
Programs include: Parents Journey Group (facilitated by Alex Sehdeva)
Kids Journey Group
"Faith Like a River" Class (facilitated by Rev. Garmon)

The June "Faith Like a River" class is titled "Global UU." In this session, we'll explore:
  • ways Unitarians, Universalists, and Unitarian Universalists have been influenced and enriched by encounters with cultures and heritages outside North America and Western Europe;
  • past and present Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist faith communities located outside the United States;
  • the dynamics of partnering with Unitarian Universalists across cultures.
See the readings for this session HERE.


2019-06-07

Religious Education: Sun Jun 9

Well, the weather gets better and better and the RE school year is rapidly coming to a close. It goes without saying that the pace of activities and events has multiplied exponentially. Nor am I surprised that this past Sunday RE was running on high octane and yet all was accomplished in fine order! The morning began with a very fun and happy event, which was the breakfast for Special Friends. The excited, anonymous pen pals came to Fellowship Hall resplendent in their colorful pink, blue, purple, and yellow top hats. Some had Mardi Gras eye masks. There was Sunday Sailor, Ninja Princess, Salamander Street, and Cool Kid 77 to list a few pen names. Special Friends resulted in about 18 co-correspondents and all appeared to be engaged in animated conversations, not one face without a big smile! Many, many thanks to Laura Goodspeed who orchestrated this entire friend fest right down to a delicious breakfast of muffins, bagels, juice, and coffee. What a feat well done! Lyra Harada was definitely pumped up as were the students as they continued rehearsing their performance of “It’s a Small World.” The kids were totally relaxed with their percussion instruments and started to really tailor their dance moves, pretending they were marching down the sanctuary aisles. I know Disneyworld has a market on their recording of this song during the ride, but I must confess they have nothing on our singing troupe. As we moved along at breakneck speed last Sunday morning, Laura Goodspeed worked with the 4th–5th and 6th–7th grade students and teachers to create ideas for a skit centered around our Social Justice Sunday programs that were presented over the past few weeks ago. Completion of the skit will be on this Sunday and it will be performed on June 16. I, in turn, had the pleasure of visiting 2nd–3rd grade class to rehearse their skit, which they will perform this Sunday during the Affirmation Ceremony. It did not take a New York minute for the students to voice their choices for roles. One young lady said she wanted to be the narrator, as she is a great actress. Well, I guess she showed me, and to my delight as well as the teachers', there were many rising stars discovered that morning! A second rehearsal is planned right before the service this Sunday, when the class will be honored at their Affirmation Ceremony. So as they say in show biz, “break a leg” or at the very least, simply show us why we are so proud of you! Our two very special Sunday services, on June 9 and 16, are so very exciting, with the Affirmation Ceremony and skit for 2nd–3rd grade class and the barbeque, then our RE Sunday is jam packed with the Bridging Ceremony, procession of classes with banners, special songs, 4th–5th and 6th–7th classes skit, and so much more! What joy and pride is in store for families, teachers, students, and the congregation in witnessing the completion of another RE year. All of the children and youth will receive our affirmation that they are the future ambassadors of Unitarian Universalism, and they exemplify our principles with maturity, kindness, and goodwill far beyond their years.

Michele Rinaldi
RE Coordinator

Looking ahead...

RE This Sunday, Jun 9
Grades 2-3 start in Fellowship Hall to practice the Affirmation ceremony. Grades 4-7 start in the sanctuary. Grades 8-12 start in class.

Faith Development Friday, Fri Jun 14, CUUC
Our evening of learning, spiritual growth, and community. 6:15pm Pizza & Salad Community Dinner; 7:00pm Programs; 8:30pm Coffee. Programs include “Faith Like a River” Adult RE and Family Journey Group. All are welcome to stay after the programs to share coffee and a chat. RSVP to CUUCevents@gmail.com by Fri 12:00 noon so we know how much pizza to order.

RE Party for Michele Rinaldi & Perry Montrose, Sun Jun 16, 11:30am, Fellowship Hall
After our Religious Education Sunday service, join us at a party to thank Perry and Michele for all their hard work on our RE program this year and to bid them a fond farewell. We wish them both all good things in the future!

$500 Voucher toward UU Camp
Sophia Fahs RE Summer Camp, Sun Aug 18 - Sat Aug 24, Camp Echo, Burlingham, NY
After 38 years on Shelter Island, the Sophia Fahs Camp has moved to Camp Echo in Burlingham, NY. Thanks to a special grant, a limited number of $500 VOUCHERS are available to NEW CAMPERS. Vouchers are first come/first served. Deadline Jul 1 2019. To request a voucher, email ​sophiafahs@gmail.com or contact the CUUC office.

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: