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2020-04-03

From the Minister, Fri Apr 3

Dear Ones,

The Gabriel García Márquez novel, Love in the Time of Cholera -- or, rather, the title of it -- comes often to my mind these days. I never read the novel, and, wondering if it would be a good choice for shut-in days, I read up about it. It's primarily a tale of dysfunctional romance, playing on the double meaning of the Spanish cólera, as both the disease and "passion or human rage and ire" -- like the English adjective choleric. I decided to order Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) instead. Still, Márquez's title asks us: to what, in our current "time of cholera," does love call us?

I return from my sabbatical into a situation that feels quite extraordinary -- and, indeed, in our lifetimes, and in the Western world, is extraordinary. For the last several millennia of human history, however, this is normal. Ancient times saw plagues: the plague of Athens in 430 BCE, the Antonine plague (may have been smallpox) in the Roman Empire, 165-180 CE, to name two of the bigger ones. Medieval times saw plagues so recurrently that any village that hadn't had any plague in a generation (25 years), counted itself lucky. The Justinian plague in the 6th century killed somewhere between 25 million and 100 million people in the Byzantine empire. The most well-known is the bubonic plague that swept Europe, Africa, and Asia in the 14th century, killing about a third of Europe's population. More localized outbreaks continued for centuries. London endured nearly 40 distinct outbreaks of bubonic plague between 1348 and 1665. In the last 200 years, there have been seven cholera pandemics, the biggest being the third, from 1852-1860. The flu pandemic of 1918 was preceded by (and followed by) other flu outbreaks, including the flu pandemic of 1889 that killed about a million people.

Indeed, archaeological evidence indicates pandemics have been afflicting human civilization for at least 5,000 years. So here's a message for us in these extraordinary times: this is not extraordinary. This is normal. For thousands of years, people have been dealing with pandemics -- coping, caring for the sick as best they could, grieving their loss, continuing to do as much of the necessary work as they could.

This is normal. What is extraordinary is how long a stretch we -- we in the developed world -- have been without any pandemic. Also extraordinary are the remarkable tools we have today for understanding and combating disease, and for staying connected even as we are housebound. We have much grounds for gratitude.

Standing on the ground of gratitude, our spirits want to reach out in love, in care, in compassion. It's not always clear how to do that, but we are smart and creative. We will find the ways to love...

...in our time of "cholera."

Yours in faith,
Meredith

Zen at CUUC News

2020-03-31

Music: Sun Apr 5


Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Sonata in C Minor, K. 457
            II. Adagio
                                                Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Four Piano Blues
            3. Muted and sensuous
                                                Aaron Copland

Opening Music:
Four Piano Blues
            2. Soft and languid
                                                Copland

Musical Interlude I:
Charmes (Spells)
            Pour inspirer l’amour
                                                Federico Mompou

Musical Interlude II:
From Suburbis
            El carrer, el guitarrista I el vell cavall (The street, the guitarist, and the old horse)
                                                            Mompou

Music for Parting:
From Scènes d’enfants
                        Jeunes filles au jardin (Young girls in the garden)
                                                            Mompou

From the Sabbatical Minister - March 31, 2020

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

It seems so long ago and only yesterday that I arrived for our first service together in October. Since then, we've celebrated holidays and holy days, we've noted the changing seasons (and an odd lack of winter), and we've begun a different kind of being together in this time of pandemic.

We've done a lot - those who were present for the service on March 29 heard just how much we've done together and how good it is. I won't recap it here (go watch the service!), but know that you were already doing remarkable things before March 1, and are simply extraordinary now, as you figure out how to be in community in new ways, how to stay connected while physically apart.

Some of you have asked what's next for me - and sadly, that's not as certain any more. Here's what I know for sure:

Guest Preaching - Whether online or in person (pandemic-permitting), I'll be gracing pulpits in various congregations in New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Maryland.

Conferences - Again, pandemic permitting, I'll be at General Assembly in Providence, RI; and the Southeast UU Summer Institute (SUUSI) in western North Carolina.  GA might wind up being online, and SUUSI might wind up being canceled.

Other Travel and Workshops - Hopefully, I'll be with my affiliated congregation (the Unitarian Church of Lincoln) in June, with worship and workshops there, Denver, and Cheyenne. I've also got a worship workshop scheduled at Shelter Rock. Time and virus will tell whether those are also online.

Projects - I do a fair bit of one-on-one consultations, so those will continue, and I expect to do some writing; I have a worship book formulating, I am writing a new curriculum for UU Wellspring, and I have a longer-term project to write a guide to all of our hymns. We shall see how those go!

Next Sabbatical Ministry - Again, pandemic permitting, I will be at the Community Church of Chapel Hill - UU beginning September 1 for a three month sabbatical ministry. I am very hopeful this will happen.

Besides peppering Rev. Meredith and Tracy with questions about me, you can find out what I'm up to by visiting my website or by following my Worship Whisperer page on Facebook.

I leave you with these words from UU Composer David Glasgow:

We have spent time together,
And these holy moments
Give us strength to go
down the winding road
That brought us to this place.
And my prayer for you
Is a peace that's true —
Until we meet again.

Farewell, friends.

2020-03-17

Enjoying Our Homemade Chalices!


The chalice is the emblem of our Unitarian Universalist faith. You can read about the history of the UU chalice on the UUA website HERE. You might like to make a chalice for use at home as we worship and gather online, and as you hold your faith close. You can always use a simple candle.

Chalices come in many shapes, click here. If you are on FaceBook, you have likely seen #ChaliceOfTheDay from Andrea Lerner highlighting chalices found all around us.



You can view our March 15, 2020 virtual coffee hour chalice making activity - click here.  March 15th was our first online worship service (given how the pandemic has advanced, we are no longer offering to make craft packets to send home).  You'll hear the voice of our sabbatical minister, Rev. Kimberley Debus, in the room and our side of the conversation with those participating online.  Thank you, Kim Force, for making this video available!

We offer these suggestions and resources for those who would like to make a chalice:
  • Here's a sweet video from children of the UU Church of Fort Meyers with an At Home Chalice Challenge.
  • Thanks to Peter Bowden we have this online resource and adorable video of his daughter making a paper chalice.
  • You likely have items around your house you can use to make and decorate a chalice: candle, cup, empty Altoids tin, magazines, glue, felt, markers, stickers, tissue paper, paint, double-sided tape, ribbons, plastic cup, small paper plate and paper bowl, little flower pot & saucer, colored paper, wooden skewers, big pine cone, plastic Easter egg.  These might be in your recycling bin: pasta sauce jar, canned veg tin, contact solution bottle, and more!
  • Here's a link one of my colleagues share with me for turning an orange into a candle! Click here

These are pictures of chalices you made:


Duncan, 4th grade





Lois Holt





Pam Parker






Tracy Breneman
(I made these
a while back and I
still use them at home)







Coming Soon: Pictures of the Chalices We Made During the Activity Last Sunday & Your Pictures!

2020-03-11

Connecting to Worship, Meetings, and Journey Groups via Zoom

Do You Zoom?

Let's learn how together so that we can keep our gatherings accessible to all.

One of the ways CUUC is helping us stay healthy is to find ways of connecting through phone and internet via Zoom - and we want to help you get comfortable using the Zoom meeting system as we prepare to move most of our gathering online.

Zoom is a way to have video conferences or presentations that are accessible by computer, smartphone/tablet, or (audio only) regular phone. If the video technology is not for you, every Zoom gathering has the option of calling in and participating by voice only.

Zoom enables us to be in community with one another when we can't be in the same place. The staff already uses Zoom as their primary meeting place. Zoom makes worship, meetings, small groups, pastoral care sessions, and classes accessible to many more people - from the comfort of your own home.

If you choose to connect to meetings by phone, follow the instructions from your committee, team, or Journey Group facilitator.

If you choose to connect to worship by phone, dial 646-876-9923. When prompted, enter the Meeting ID number: 289 850 7899

Here's how to get started with Zoom:
  • Go to https://zoom.us and download what you need to access a Zoom Room (Go to "Download the Zoom Client" in the top right under "Resources")
  • Go to your smartphone or tablet's App Store and download the Zoom app for iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Android.
  • If you want, practice having a Zoom call with someone. You can have your own gatherings of up to 40 minutes with a free Zoom account.
  • Learn how to mute yourself on Zoom (or how to mute your phone). If you attend worship remotely, you will need to do this. If you're in a meeting or gathering, it's best practice to mute yourself when you're not speaking.
  • To attend a meeting on Zoom, follow the instructions from committee, team, or Journey Group leader. 
  • To attend worship on Zoom, click this link to join: https://zoom.us/j/2898507899.
If you still need some assistance, please contact Pam Parker at admin@cucwp.org or 914-946-1660 x2, Mon through Fri. 

2020-03-05

From the Sabbatical Minister - March 5, 2020

The Sound of the Life of Your Minds

Over the past almost six months, you have shared so much with me - ideas you've had, ways you are making meaning and connection, books you've read, songs you love, ways of understanding your Unitarian Universalist faith, ways in which you are putting that faith into action. It has been amazing to share your answers and questions, thoughts and ideas, joys and concerns. These are the intangible things - these sounds of the life of your minds - that make ministry so rich for we who are called to be ministers.

And I imagine how much Rev. Meredith misses that - the every day sense of the life of your minds. I can imagine the kinds of questions he will ask you - questions like what have you been reading? what idea has captured your interest? what new things did you try? what have you learned? what has inspired you? what have you created? what have you incorporated into your daily practice? how has your life changed? what is bringing you meaning? what do you want to do next? 

I imagine Rev. Meredith would love to pore over your answers, dipping in to see the titles of books, the photos of events, the quotations and poems and thoughts that have emerged for you, the art you're making, the connections you're weaving.

What a way to welcome him back!

Beginning this Sunday (March 8) a table will be set up in the fireside area where you can add to a scrapbook that you will present to Rev. Meredith on April 5th - you can choose to take a page home to fill up (being sure to return it by March 29th) - or you can bring a list of things to add, or you can write up something, print it out, and we can attach it to a page. We'll leave the table up through March 29th, then I will put it all together and leave it in the office, ready to be presented to Rev. Meredith at his first service back on April 5th.

Please bring photos, graphics, art, words, lists - whatever you think Rev. Meredith might be interested in  - however you might answer the questions above. Remember to put your name on anything you submit so he knows what YOU are thinking about, not just what 'folks around here' are thinking about.


2020-02-27

Religious Education & Faith Development

NEW! 

Upcoming Sunday information and weekly Religious Education 
announcements will now be posted on our website and updated weekly. 


Click HERE for information about Religious Education this week. 

Click HERE for the weekly CUUC family announcements.