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Slow Life

Practice of the Week
Slow Life

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

See also: "Don't Go So Fast"

Healing the Earth and creating a sustainable world can seem daunting. But stop for a moment and imagine a sustainable culture, a restored Earth, where humans serve and support the greater whole of the biosphere that ultimately sustains us all. What sort of lifestyle would the people live? Are they perpetually exhausted, stressed, and subsisting on fast food, or are they living at a healthier, calmer pace?

Most of us are very busy and very tired. Our obligations and duties leave many in a perpetual state of fatigue: sleep-deprived, overworked, exhausted, and without time to relax and savor the pleasures of life.

Homo sapiens emerged on the African savannah 200,000 years ago, fashioned by millions of years of natural selection into a tremendously adaptable species – or we wouldn’t be coping as well as we do with this radically different post-industrial world – but our elasticity has its limits. We are biologically wired to respond to the daily and seasonal rhythms of light and dark in a world without clocks, schedules, or artificially imposed deadlines. Our bodies and psyches are ill equipped to handle the myriad incessant demands and pressures that pull on us from all sides -- constant low-level stressors, raising our blood pressure and giving us indigestion.

How we feel about the pace of our lives is influenced not only by our own individual schedules and daily activities but also by the tempo of our surroundings. A bustling big city has a fast tempo, filled with the frenetic energy of people rushing here and there. A small rural town might have a much slower tempo, resulting in daily life feeling more relaxed. Urban dwellers might have to consciously search for an oasis of calm, such as a park or cathedral, to really slow down mentally and spiritually, a challenge not faced by those who live amidst a more relaxed tempo.

Every time one person or one family takes steps to slow down, to reclaim a healthier and more natural life pace, the quality of life of the individual or family increases, and the impact spreads through their circle of friends and family. Since healthy, natural, slow-life choices tend also to be environmentally friendly choices, the world moves toward sustainability.

Slowing down is difficult because we are embedded within larger systems over which we have little control. Even so, we can say no to additional obligations, and in so doing learn to tend to our personal boundaries. We can choose to simply stay home and hang out with our families, instead of rushing off to be entertained elsewhere. We can eat real food; turn hanging the laundry outdoors to dry into a kind of meditation; find a way to bring a slower pace to our days. These are not only soul-healing but Earth-healing choices.


1. Breathing the Hours. Medieval monks prayed seven times a day, pausing at set times from dawn to midnight to “pray the hours." Muslims pause for prayer five times daily. These traditions call practitioners away from the flow of ordinary life and create a brief liminal space amid daily tasks. Breathing the hours is a simple way to slow the frantic pace that drives us onward faster and faster. Choose how many times you would like to pause – at least four times a day – and at what times. When you pause, step to a window, or go outside. Focus on nature: sky, trees, grass, flowers. Take five slow, deep breaths, allowing shoulders to drop and belly to expand.

2. Slow Down Dinner. Together with friends or family, plan and cook a meal entirely from scratch, without “time-saving” devices: salad from lettuce from the farmer's market; beans soaked and cooked from dried, bread home-baked, etc. Also: no electric appliances (other than oven) allowed—slice, dice, mix and blend by hand. Use a tablecloth, cloth napkins, and make the occasion festive. Be sure the preparing is a communal endeavor shared by all who will join in the eating. Afterwards, wash the dishes in the sink, not the dishwasher. This may take some planning – so plan ahead. If you can't manage this weekly, try it once a month. The point is not to cause yourself more stress but to help you shift into a slower mode of being and have fun.

3. Conveniences that Maybe Aren't. Walk around every room of your house, and take note of any technology that didn't exist one hundred years ago. Then, go back over your list, and evaluate how each device affects your life. Do any devices suck up large quantities of time and/ or money without offering much in return? How do they affect the overall quality of your life? Adjust your home accordingly.

Group Activities

Looking at Time. Sit in a large circle with two white boards or large sheets of paper. Ask group members to share aspects of their lives that seem rushed or stressed, and write these on the first board. Next, brainstorm ideas that might offer creative ways to address the issues brought up by the group, and write these on the second board. Sharing insights into each others' lives can help us see possibilities we might not see on our own. At the next group meeting, follow-up to see how participants have adopted any suggestions from this exercise.

Questions for Group Conversation:
  • What aspects of modern work life encourage an ever-faster pace? How can we counter these without risking our jobs?
  • How are our children affected by the high-pressure, fast pace of society? Are they overscheduled? How are they affected by the pressures their parents face?
  • How do you understand the connection between slowing down and sustainable living? What other aspects of daily life might also show this connection? What can we do to not only help ourselves live healthier lives, but also affect the Earth?
  • What does technology have to do with slowing down? How have the various electronic devices in our lives affected our experience of time? Do we perceive time differently because of technology? If so, how?
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Minister's Post, Sun Aug 9

Dear Ones,

Here are the monthly themes for 2020-21. I'll be exploring these topics in sermons, and you'll have the opportunity to dive into them in your Journey groups:

Sep - Journeying & Wandering
Oct - Resilience
Nov - Hope
Dec - Abundance
Jan - Intention
Feb - Belonging
Mar - Integrity
Apr - Trust
May - Attention
Jun - Justice

I'm looking forward to digging into these rich themes this year!

Yours in faith,

Practice of the Week: No Schadenfreude, ever

Moment of Zen: Rebirth


No Schadenfreude, Ever

Practice of the Week
No Schadenfreude, Ever

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 slogans, day by day. Sometimes make one of them the focus of your daily journaling.

Schadenfreude: “the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another.”

We’ve all experienced schadenfreude, and many of us continue to do so regularly. It makes us feel better about our own failures to see others fail. Schadenfreude is relief from feelings of inferiority or envy -- or, if we have reasons for disliking someone, maybe it feels good to see them get a comeuppance. When pastor Tony Perkins, in 2015, said that floods were sent by God to punish abortion and gay marriage -- and then his own house flooded and he had to escape in a canoe – it’s hard not to resist the temptation to a little schadenfreude.

Indeed, there are defenders of schadenfreude, who say, for instance, that it helps us cope with our own misfortunes. This may be true for those without a better coping strategy. Compassion (which includes self-compassion), if the habit of it can become ingrained, works better than schadenfreude.

It takes training to become a person who always gives priority to empathy over schadenfreude. The habit of unremitting compassion requires patient development. We who seek to live lives of compassion are helped along by repeating slogan reminders to ourselves – such as, “No schadenfreude, ever.”

Don’t rejoice at other’s pain. Don’t wish for something bad to happen to your enemy, and don’t take delight in something bad that happens to someone you don’t like – or, for that matter, to someone you do like. Don’t hope for someone to die so you can inherit money.

Even if there’s a terrible leader who gets assassinated and this assassination brings in a much better government, don’t dance at his funeral, and don’t rejoice. Suffering is suffering, and it makes emotional sense to always feel compassion for suffering no matter who the sufferer is. Even if we can’t forgive or condone the actions of our enemies, we don’t need to wish misfortunate on them or applaud when bad things befall them.

It is important that those who do harm stop doing that harm. We, or someone, must, when possible, see to it that the harming stops. But this isn’t the same as revenge or enjoying another’s pain. As we have seen, compassion, real compassion, can’t be selective. Though we may not be able to avoid favoring those we love and feeling shaky about those who have hurt us, we are clear that compassion and empathy, if they are going to be of benefit at all, must be universally, not selectively, felt.

It is embarrassing to realize how much of our own happiness seems to be based on the suffering of other beings. Even worse, we find that at times we go so far as to hope that someone else suffers, because we know that we will benefit from their pain. We hope that someone else will lose, so that we can win. We develop a kind of dog-eat-dog, or your-pain-my gain mentality.

This slogan is about exploitation. It is about taking advantage of others in order to maintain our wealth and privilege. It could also be applied to our attitude to our mother earth. It is about the habit of take take take, with no gratitude, and with blindness as to the consequences.

When we recognize the extent to which we base our own happiness on the pain of other beings, our so-called happiness is threatened. It begins to ring hollow. So we cover up this reality in a cloud of vague ignorance. We act as though our good fortune is simply our due and has nothing to do with anyone else’s problems or suffering. But often, in fact, the two are inextricably interconnected.

According to this slogan, if our happiness is based on the suffering of others, if that is the only way to maintain it, it cannot be true happiness. Our so-called happiness is both tainted and flimsy. So once again, as in so many other slogans, the habit of putting ourselves first and looking out for number one is shown to be a completely dysfunctional approach. It is a false hope, a phony and a fraud.

Practice. Whether you think of yourself as privileged or as underprivileged, contemplate the effect of buying into the paradigm that increasing your happiness depends on decreasing the happiness of others.

* * *

Religious Education: Mid-Summer 2020 Edition

Religious Education & Faith Development
Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains
August 7, 2020

Mid-Summer 2020 Edition


Movin' & Groovin' 
for ALL Ages!
Starts Monday! Calling all ages, energy levels, ranges of mobility and experience for some dancing fun!  Join Terri Kung ( to have some FUN and learn a routine that can be modified for any age and stage. (We might just find ourselves in a flash mob sometime soon.) Come to one or all of the practices:  
  • Monday, August 10 & 17, 2:00pm & 7:30pm
  • Friday, August 14 & 21, 10:30am
  • Zoom Room 8428: Meeting ID 817 388 428 & Password 468468; for Phone Audio Dial 646-558-8656; Zoom One-Step Authentication Login, click HERE

UU Kids Connect
Children and youth can participate any time!
Tracy is with the 6th-8th grade group
tomorrow: Friday, August 7th
Click HERE for the full description in the July 2nd newsletter.

Rising K-5th Graders 
  • Summer Power Hour Mondays - incoming grades K-2 (Mondays, July 6 – Aug.24, 11:00am-12:00pm ET)
  • Summer Power Hour Wednesdays - incoming grades 3-5 (Wednesdays, July 8 – Aug.26, 11:-00am – 12:00pm ET)
  • Click HERE  for the full description in the July 2nd newsletter. Click HERE to register and receive the participation link. 
 Rising 6th-8th Graders
  • Summer Socials for incoming grades 6-8 (every other Friday, July 10, July 24, Aug.7 & Aug.21, 3:00pm – 4:00pm ET)
  • Tracy Breneman is one of the leaders for the 6th-8th group tomorrow, Friday, August 7th! We are exploring our 5th UU Principle and the democratic process, and having fun!  Join us!  Click HERE for the full description in the July 2nd newsletter. Click HERE to register and receive the participation link. 

More Youth Activities

Click HERE  for full descriptions
in the July 2nd newsletter. 

CER Treehouse
The UUA Central East Region (CER) Treehouse offers drop in events, some planned by youth, some planned by adults. There will be break out spaces by CON community, spaces for POC and LGBTQ youth, chances to plan and participate in drop in programs like worship, and more—whatever the community needs and can create together! The Treehouse is free and open to rising 9th graders through 2020 HS graduates.  Click HERE for more information and to register for log in instructions.

Center Lane Pride Camp: Isms & Intersections
Monday-Friday, August 10-14, 11am-3pm
There's still time to register! Pride Camps are FREE 5-day leadership conferences where teens in Westchester County can earn 20 hours of community service learning how to create community, connect with LGBTQ+ culture and history and contribute to the world!  The LGBTQ+ community is made up of people of all genders, races, religions, abilities, ages, income levels - we're everyone! This week, we'll talk 'ism' - how oppression of groups affects us personally, others in our community, and how we talk about being Queer. We'll explore how we navigate intersecting identities, deal with oppression, and show resilience. 

TransParentcy+ is a 9 week program for Trans, Gender Expansive, Non-Binary, or Questioning youth ages 13-21 who are Black, Indigenous or People of Color, talk about their experiences and concerns, and helping their families navigate the changing world of gender. Gather in a confidential Zoom, Mondays 8/3, 8/10, 8/17, 8/24, 8/31 from 6-8 pm. FREE!  Click HERE for the flyer. // Click HERE to sign up. Email for more information

Mental Health & School Reopening
Tuesday, August 18th, 7:00-8:00pm
The Westchester chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is offering a virtual presentation on how to prepare your child for returning to school in the "new normal." There will be time for Q&A. 
Pre-registration required via Evenbrite at:  https://childrenshealthandschoolreopening.eventbrite.comYou will receive the Zoom link and login on the morning of the presentation. Registration Ends August 17

*Andrew Ecker, Ed.D., Coordinator, Guidance & Child Study Center, Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES
*Marion Walsh, Esq., Special Education Dept. for Littman Krooks
*Marie Considine, MPA, Director of Development for NAMI Westchester and parent of school-age children

CUUC Fun Day!

Join us for CUUC Fun Day Saturday September 12th, 12:00-3:00pm, conditions permitting. Our rain date is Sunday, September 13th, time tba. We will be outside, wearing our masks and spreading out for tie dyeing, rock painting, scavenger hunt, trail cleanup, bird watching and more! Watch the newsletters closer to the date for confirmation that it is safe for us to hold this event. 


The CUUC Hunger and Homelessness team and the Brunch Committee continue partnering with HOPE Kitchen to provide support for local families experiencing food insecurity. The need is great!

The CUUC Hunger & Homelessness Team has been making weekly deliveries of dinner trays and lunch items that are prepared by our volunteers. You can help by making a financial donation for ingredients and supplies. You might sponsor a day or week of meals. Any donation is helpful. You can contribute by clicking the Donate button on our website or by sending a check to CUUC with “Share the Plate - HOPE” in the memo line. Contact Nicole Turygin ( and Steve Miller ( for more information. 
RE & Social Justice
Our 2020-2021 RE theme is Justice & Equity. To understand current movements for racial justice, we need to understand our country's history. Summer is a great time to read the 1619 Project materials! Links to the individual essays on The New York Times website can be found at the bottom of their article "Why We Published the 1619 Project." Find a link to The New York Times Magazine: The 1619 Project HERE. Read about CUUC's approach HERE
Join us Sunday, September 13th at 4:00 pm via Zoom for discussion about Linda Villarosa's essay, "Medical Inequality." We will also discuss an essay that the same author (click here) published in April 2020 on Covid-19 and the toll it has taken in the African American community. Zoom information will be available a few days before the session.


The RE Council is delighted to welcome two new members: Stephanie Madden and Al Forte! They join continuing Council members, Christine Haran (Co-chair), Laura Goodspeed (Co-chair), David Bowen, Janice Silverberg, Laura Sehdeva, Joe Gonzalez and Tracy Breneman (DRE). We are actively planning classes and events, and will reach out to RE leaders in the coming weeks. 

For the 2020-2021 year in Religious Education, we are embracing the theme of JUSTICE & EQUITY, with learning and action in these areas: racial justice & police reform, LGBTPQIA+ rights, Indigenous rights, climate justice, and UU the Vote.  We will deepen our partnership with the CUUC Social Justice teams, supporting existing initiatives and affording our young people opportunities to find their voice.

We will offer Our Whole Lives classes for 5th-6th and 7th-9th grades. We are also excited to support parents and caregivers by offering the "Parents and Caregivers as Sexuality Educators" curriculum, which provides an opportunity for adults to gain tools for supporting the young people in your lives.

The CUUC Reopening Planning Group has been meeting to discuss means and a timeline for eventually reopening our building. No date has been set but the group is in ongoing discussion and will communicate with the CUUC community when there is a decision. For the sake of creating a plan for the year and scheduling, the RE Council anticipates holding RE classes and activities mostly online through December. We are working on the RE schedule and will share it in the coming weeks. 


  • Click HERE for activity resources.
  • Click HERE for our growing list of anti-racism resources for families.
  • Many Journey Groups continue checking in over the summer. Visit for information about these and other gatherings; click on an event for login information.
  • Check the Online Programming Schedule for Zoom room information.
  • For information about Summer 2020 UU camps, click HERE
Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains  
468 Rosedale Ave · White Plains, NY 10605-5419