2016-12-22

The Year to Live List

Practice of the Week
The Year to Live List

How to Know What's Most Important to You

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

“Live like you only have a year left to live. If you live like you only have a day, you might do things that you will regret. But if you live for only a year in mind, you will make each day a treasure while still planning for the next.”

We need to know what's most important to us. Only by focusing and staying true to one's deepest values can a person live an authentic, fulfilling life. When I say this in my seminars, I am asked, "With so many competing priorities, how can I know what is most important to me?" Luckily, there is a simple way: the Year Left to Live List.

When people find out they have a limited length of time to live, as if by magic their priorities become strikingly clear. I had a client, Sarah, who found out she had an inoperable brain tumor. Her doctors told her she had about four to five relatively healthy months to live, followed by a couple more months of increasing dementia. Sarah had been a hard-driving career woman who had worked about sixty hours a week. Her dream, or so she thought, was to become a partner in her law firm. Yet, once she found out her time was limited, she dramatically changed what she spent her time on. She immediately quit her job, took a trip to Israel for a month, and then spend her few remaining months surrounded by family and friends.

Unless you really know you only have a year to live, you're not going to be able to do what Sarah did. Nor is it what's called for. Yet, by writing down what you would do with a limited time, you can gain clarity regarding your true priorities. Once you're clear about what's important, you can more easily structure your time and your life in a way that leads to fulfillment. If, with a year to live, you would want to travel around the world, spend time with your friends and family, and go on a whitewater river adventure, then these things are what really call to you. Although you may not be able to travel the world while holding a job, you can go on little trips and have mini-adventures. Only by doing at least some of the activities you'd do with a year to live will you feel truly satisfied with your life.

Most people make the mistake of continually putting off their dreams -- hoping to get to them when they're all caught up. Unfortunately, new things are always being added to our to-do list, and our dreams get crowded out of our schedule. Usually, there is a way to spend time doing meaningful activities without having to drastically alter our life. Spending quality time with friends and family, taking little trips, spending more time in spiritual pursuits can be integrated into even the busiest of lifestyles. It's all a matter of prioritizing what you really value, and then scheduling these important activities into your weekly life.

You've read enough. Now is the time to make out your list. Get a piece of paper and write out at the top "What would I do with a year left to live?" Assume that you'd have the same amount of income you currently have, and that you wouldn't want to go into debt. Then, take only four minutes to write down all the things you would want to do. (Feel free to abbreviate so you can write more quickly.) Be specific: for example, instead of writing, "I'd travel," specify where you'd like to travel to. Try to consider different areas of life, such as:
  1. With whom would you like to spend time?
  2. Where would you want to spend your time?
  3. What adventures would you like to experience?
  4. How would you be different in how you approached your life?
  5. What, if any, legacy or contribution would you like to leave, and to whom?
  6. To what, if any, spiritual pursuit would you want to give time?
This exercise only takes four minutes, yet it can provide you with a treasure of valuable information. Once you have your list in front of you, ask yourself, "How many of these activities am I currently pursuing in my life on a regular basis?" If you're doing a lot of them, congratulations! That means you are integrating what's important to you into your daily life. If, however, you notice that many of the items on your list have been neglected for weeks, months, or even years, then your need is to give more time to these activities.

Perhaps you can take out your calendar right now and schedule a short trip you'd like to take, or call up an old friend you'd like to visit. It's critical that you do it now -- before all the other competing priorites of life manage to drown out your dreams. Who knows -- you may only have a year left to live. Or a month. Or less. However long you have, this list will help make this next year a time of depth and quality.

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For list of all weekly practices: "Practices of the Week Index"

2016-12-15

Live in Patience

Practice of the Week
Live in Patience

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.
"Patience is not simply the ability to wait - it's how we behave while we're waiting." --Joyce Meyer

"It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience." --Julius Caesar

Life is dangerous and fraught. Facing misfortune squarely works better than trying to escape it -- and facing it squarely requires cultivating patience.

Once upon a time during China's Song dynasty (960-1279 BCE) there was a Zen master called Bird's Nest Roshi because he meditated in an eagle's nest at the top of a tree. This was quite a dangerous thing to do: one gust of wind, one sleepy moment, and he was done for. He became quite famous for this precarious practice. One day the poet Su Shih came to visit him and, standing on the ground far below the meditating master, asked what possessed him to live in such a dangerous manner. The roshi answered, "You call this dangerous? What you are doing is far more dangerous!" Living normally in the world, ignoring death, impermanence, and loss and suffering, as we all routinely do, as if this were a normal and a safe way to live, is actually much more dangerous than going out on a limb to meditate.

Trying to avoid difficulty may be natural and understandable. It is also ineffective. Our efforts to protect ourselves from pain end up causing us deeper pain. Our attempts to hold on to what we have causes us to lose what we have. We can't keep the attractive object, and we can't avoid the unwanted object. Counterintuitive though it may be, trying to avoiding life's difficulties is actually a more dangerous way to live than facing misfortune squarely.

Of course, when we can prevent difficulty, we do that. So, yes, we do reasonably try to protect our investments, get regular checkups, exercise, take care of our diet, get homeowner's insurance, and so on. It's the unnecessary and unhelpful underlying attitude of anxiety, fear, and narrow-mindedness that makes our lives unhappy, fearful, and small. Patience is the antidote.

Patience is the capacity to welcome difficulty when it comes, with a spirit of strength, endurance, forbearance, and dignity rather than fear, anxiety, and avoidance. None of us like to be oppressed or defeated, yet if we can endure oppression and defeat with strength, without whining, we are ennobled by it. Patience makes this possible.

Our culture encourages thinking of patience as passive and unglamorous. Qualities such as love or compassion or insight are much more popular. But when tough times cause our love to fray into annoyance, our compassion to be overwhelmed by our fear, and our insight to evaporate, then patience begins to make sense. Without patience, all other qualities are shaky.

How

The practice of patience is simple enough. When difficulty arises, notice the obvious and not so obvious ways we try to avoid it: the things we say and do, the subtle ways in which our very bodies recoil and clench when someone says or does something to us that we don't like.

To practice patience is to simply notice these things and be fiercely present with them. Taking a breath helps. Returning to mindfulness of the body helps. Be fiercely present rather than than flailing around in reactivity to things we don't like. Pay attention to body. Pay attention to mind. When possible, give ourselves good teachings about the virtue of being with, rather than trying to run away from, the anguish we are feeling in this moment.

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See also Practice of the Week: "Be Patient"
For list of all weekly practices: "Practices of the Week Index"

Music: Sun Dec 18


A wide range of Christmas-themed music is featured as part of Sunday morning’s worship service. The Prelude opens with a solo piano arrangement of the Catalonian Christmas carol “The Song of the Birds”, popularized by cellist Pau Casals. A charming waltz in honor of the holiday by Tchaikovsky is also included, as is a clutch of fun arrangements of popular Christmas tunes by Donald Waxman, a well-known composer of early-level methods for piano students. Franz Liszt, better known as a composer of virtuoso show-stoppers, is responsible for the delightful version of “O Come All Ye Faithful”, from a collection of Christmas pieces written for his granddaughter. Finally, our own Kim Force shares her talents in Xavier Montsalvatge’s sultry “Lullaby for a Little Black Baby”, taken from his cycle of songs on texts by Cuban poets, and in a pastoral excerpt from Handel’s Messiah. Read on for programming details.

Prelude: Adam Kent, piano
The Song of the Birds            
Traditional Catalonian Christmas Carol arr. by Joaquin Nin-Culmell
Christmas, Op. 37, No. 12
                                                Pyotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky
A Christmas Pageant
Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabelle
Deck the Halls
Good King Wenceslas
We Three Kings
Ding Dong Merrily on High
Bohemian Bell Carol
Yule’s Come and Yule’s Gane
O Let Us Sing, I Pray You
The Boar’s Head Carol
                                                Donald Waxman

Opening Music: Kim Force, soprano
“He Shall Lead His Flock” from Messiah
                                    George Frederick Handel

Cuban Lullaby for Pageant:
Canción para dormir a un negrito
                                                Xavier Montsalvatge

Offertory: Adeste Fideles from The Christmas Tree
                                                Franz Liszt

2016-12-07

Praise

Practice of the Week
Praise

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

Step 1. Praise. Let “God” represent whatever most evokes a sense of reverence for you. Now try a practice of praising this God. Sing songs of praise every day. (See Hymns 20-37 in Singing the Living Tradition – or browse around on youtube for “praise songs). Or just spend some time every day whispering praises. It’s not that “God” has any need for your praise – but does the act of praising re-orient you in some way?

Step 2. “Person”-alize It. Expand your imagination! Take some time each day to imagine that various inanimate things were person-like: they had feelings, beliefs, desires, intentions, moods. Imagine this of the sky, of your environs, of various appliances (“the microwave is particularly cheerful this morning, but what is the refrigerator angry about?”), etc. Intuit what they might be wanting. Try this for a week, and be ready to report on what the experience was like.

Step 3. Reflect and Journal. Write responses to the poems and articles in the December issue of On the Journey (CLICK HERE). What do they say to you? What messages hit home? Which points need some expanding upon, and how would you expand upon them? Which parts do you disagree with, and why? Which parts just make no sense?

Step 4. Return to praise -- which an expanded sense of the divinity you are praising!

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For list of all weekly practices: "Practices of the Week Index"

2016-12-06

Music: Sun Dec 11


Whether he was writing for the Church, royal patrons, or musical amateurs, J. S. Bach frequently appended the initials S.D.G. to his manuscripts. “Soli Deo Gloria”—To the Glory of God Alone—summarized Bach’s conviction of the divine inspiration underlying all creative activity. And no other composer’s music better reflects the Infinite, in its simultaneous linear and harmonic unfolding. Accordingly, December’s theme of God is mirrored in the solo keyboard works of Bach programmed at Sunday morning’s worship service.

The CUUC Choir is also on hand with a traditional African celebration of the divine and Alicia Ann Scott’s soulfully expressive “Think On Me”. Read on for programming details.

Prelude: Adam Kent, piano
Partita No. 1 in Bb Major, BWV 825
            Sarabande and Gigue
                                                J. S. Bach
I Call on Thee, O Lord
                                    J. S. Bach, arr. by Ferruccio Busoni

Anthem: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas
   
Bonse Aba*  
Victor C. Johnson
*Translation: All who sing with the spirit have a right to be called the
children of God.



Offertory:
Prelude and Fugue in E Major, W. T. C. I
                                                J. S. Bach

Anthem:
Think On Me
Alicia Ann Scott, arr. by Greg Gilpin  




2016-12-01

Cooking As Spiritual Practice

Practice of the Week
Cooking As Spiritual Practice

Category: Might Be Your Thing (This practice is not for everyone -- but may be just the thing for you!)
"When the activities of one's life become spiritual practice,...the activities of life itself become a prayer." (Lynn Brodie)
Adapted from Lynn M. Brodie, "Cooking," in Everyday Spiritual Practice

I like to start my spiritual practice -- cooking -- with a recipe. One of my favorites goes like this: Grab a large pot, pour in:
two tablespoons of oil
heat it on the stove.
Chop up 1 c. onion and
1 tbsp fresh garlic.
Throw them in the pot.
Add:

a pile of fresh chopped basil,
1 heaping tsp dry oregano,
2 bay leaves, and
1.5 tsp salt.
Saute them all together.
Add:

1 lb, 13 oz tomatoes
1 lb, 13 oz tomato puree
a heaping 1/4 tsp black pepper,
a pinch of red pepper,
1/2 c. fresh chopped parsley, and
1/2 c. wine or beer
Cook it over very low heat all day on stove or in the crock pot. Stir it, taste it, and adjust the seasonings regularly.

When I make this recipe for tomato sauce, I'm not just getting a meal on the table. There is much more going on. To start with, I am paying close attention to all the sights, sounds, smells, and textures. I am smelling the sharp odor of garlic as I hold the cloves between my fingers and chop. I am listening to the sizzle of onions sauteing on the stove. I am watching bright red tomato puree pour from a metal can onto the sizzling spices and enjoying the contrast of color as I drop fresh green parsley on top. I am feeling myself present in the moment. Throughout the day as I go about my other work, my nostrils are filled with the warm, spicy aroma of a sauce made just the way I like it, and I am connecting with my mother, my father, my grandmothers, and all the cooks in my family going back to generations I've never met.

Like most children, I learned to cook by helping my mother in the kitchen. The transformations of ingredients into finished product seemed magical. Some special recipes she made the way her mother had made them. With those recipes came her stories of watching her mother cook and sharing meals with her own family as she grew up.

When I began cooking on my own, I had a great time chopping and stirring, mashing and frying, plunging my hands into bowls full of dough and squeezing it between my fingers. I never thought of it as spiritual, but I certainly enjoyed by cooking nights.

When I went away to college and had an apartment to myself, I cooked up something simple each night. I never thought about why I did it -- I just liked to cook. Now I know why. Those were times of connection and creation. Alone in my apartment, I felt connected to my family by a tradition of cooking.

After marriage and the arrival of children, my cooking had a new focus. Cooking connects me to the people I am cooking for. I focus on creating food that will nourish the bodies and souls of my family and any company we might have. Even when they aren't helping me cook, my family is connected to the process through invisible waves of fragrant steam emerging from the kitchen. When we sit down together in the evening and spook a fresh-cooked meal onto our plates, we all participate in that connection to our senses, our present moment, our selves.

Sometimes I more-or-less follow a recipe, other times I invent something new. But whatever process I use emerges from my life. Recipes I choose to follow or invent are based on my past experience, on my dietary values at the time, on the ingredients available in my house or those I can afford at the store, on the way I feel, and the way I wish to connect with others around me. Recipes I choose to cook always come out of the depths of who I am and where I am in life at a particular moment. All that is in my participates in the act of cooking.

But cooking is not merely an expression of myself. The process of creation shapes who I am in many ways. For example, cooking strengthens my awareness of my dependence on the earth. I like to start with basic ingredients and cook from scratch because it puts me in closer contact with the source of the food. I don't grind my flour myself, but it is easier to see the connection to wheat in a bag of whole grain flour than in a package of processed baking mix. When I use fresh herbs and vegetables from the store or from my garden, I feel the same connection.

Cooking has also been a way to connect with the mysterious process of creation. In cooking, one combines separate, individual ingredients and transforms them into something new. Each of the ingredients form making a muffin has a unique taste and texture that is nothing like a muffin. Combining those ingredients and baking them is as clear an illustration of transformation as one could hope for. A muffin is a new entity -- different from its ingredients separately and different from the unbaked batter of all the ingredients mixed. This happens in a more or less dramatic fashion in all cooking.

I began to realize that cooking was my spiritual practice when my life got too busy to cook -- yet I did it anyway. I was a wife, mother of two, homeowner, dog owner -- and then I started graduate school. Week after week I kept telling myself, "This is crazy, I don't have time for all this cooking." But somehow I found myself making the time to cook and being happy that I had.

Slowly, I realized why I couldn't give up cooking. Cooking was much more than a way to feed the physical bodies of my family and myself. It was much more than an enjoyable hobby. Cooking nourished my soul, too. Like all good spiritual experience, the time spent in practice enhances the rest of life rather than taking something valuable away.

My pot of tomato sauce is a prayer that has developed and evolved over the years. At first, I followed Mom's recipe exactly, creating a smooth, mild, flavorful sauce. Later, my father showed me a way to make spaghetti sauce that drew on his Italian heritage: it was a spicy, chunky, and potent sauce. In college, I began to cook a sauce that combined my mother's and father's recipes. I stopped measuring ingredients and just added them and tasted regularly. When my husband and I stopped eating red meat, I came up with a recipe for ground turkey meatballs. When we stopped eating meat altogether, I devised a vegetarian meatball. When my son was refusing to eat any vegetables, I added grated carrot to the sauce. I'm sure the sauce, like all my cooking will continue to evolve with the ever-changing inner and outer lives of myself and the members of my family.

When I cook I am part of the interconnecting past, present, and future of humanity. I have opened a window to my own inner soul and to the world around me. I am completely involved in the activities of life and paying close attention to all that surrounds me. By being fully present in the moment, I experience a peace, a connection, and a rootedness. Through this awareness I am connected with the ultimate forces of the universe within and without. That is my definition of spirituality. When the activities of one's life become spiritual practice in these ways, the activities of life itself become a prayer.

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See also: Anne-Marie Fryer Wiboltt, Cooking for the Love of the World: Awakening Our Spirituality through Cooking. "An internationally acclaimed biodynamic farmer, natural health counselor, and nutritional cooking teacher infuses cooking and eating with deeply reverent and spiritual consciousness. Food is placed within an understanding of the earthly and cosmic forces of plant life and exquisite recipes transform nature into the art of cooking."

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2016-11-29

Music: Sun Dec 4


CUUC’s Choir is on hand this Sunday with joyous, life-affirming selections to herald the holiday season. Choir Pianist Georgianna Pappas also offers seasonal favorites by Tchaikovsky as well as beloved Peanuts music by Vince Guaraldi. Read on for programming details.

Prelude: Georgianna Pappas, piano
Nutcracker Suite
          Overture
           March of the Wooden Soldiers
          Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies
           Russian Dance

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Anthem: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas
Light, You Will Have  
Amy F. Bernon

Offertory:
Linus and Lucy.     
Vince Guaraldi

Anthem:
Exultate!* 
 Mary Lynn Lightfoot 
*Translation: Rejoice in God, our helper.  Be joyful unto God.
                         Let us give thanks, give thanks to God.  Rejoice!



2016-11-23

Music: Sun Nov 27


Seasonal favorites by Unitarian composer Edvard Grieg, Edward MacDowell, and Tchaikovsky mark the end of a festive holiday weekend at CUUC. The Prelude also includes atmospheric works by the Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz and the Russian Dmitry Shostakovich. Read on for programming details, and check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARDh-G45d_8 -- or see video below -- for Adam Kent’s rendition of Albéniz’s brooding Evocación.

Prelude: Adam Kent, piano
Thanks, Op. 62, No. 2
                        Edvard Grieg
Prelude in Ab Major, Op. 34, No. 17
Prelude in c# minor, Op. 34, No. 19
Dmitri Shostakovich
Evocación from Iberia, Book I
            Isaac Albéniz
Opening Music:
In Autumn, Op. 51, No. 4
                                    Edward MacDowell
Offertory:
November, Op. 37, No. 11
                        Pyotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky

Interlude:
Autumn Song, Op. 37, No. 10
                                    Tchaikovsky



2016-11-17

Church and Politics

ON THE POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT OF FAITH CONGREGATIONS
Meredith Garmon

The Supreme Court recognized in Walz v. Tax Commission, back in 1970:
“Adherents of particular faiths and individual churches frequently take strong positions on public issues including vigorous advocacy of legal or constitutional positions. Of course, churches as much as secular bodies and private citizens have that right.”
What the congregation can’t do, under IRS regulations for nonprofits, is advocate for or against any specific candidate for elective office, or any political party. But churches, temples, synagogues, mosques – congregations of any faith – may certainly engage on issues of public policy -- including elected and appointed political leaders.

So I will not, from the pulpit, or in CUUC newsletters or emails, or in CUUC-connected blogs, speak for or against any specific candidate or party. When communicating through those channels, I have avoided even saying the name of either of the major party nominees for president. When communicating through certain other channels, such as social media, I haven't been shy about naming names and expressing my opinions of candidates, but I do so as an individual citizen, not as the CUUC minister.

Since Nov 8, however, Mr. Trump and Sec. Clinton are no longer candidates. We, as a nonprofit, may express our support or our opposition for any elected or appointed leader, as well as any policy issue or legislative proposal. Until such time as Mr. Trump announces that he is running for re-election in 2020, he is not a candidate. We, as a nonprofit faith community, may vociferously and explicitly denounce or support his actions or his words.

Indeed, I believe that it is our obligation -- as a people of faith who covenant to affirm and promote justice, equity, and compassion, and the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all -- to do so.

For more info, see: "The Real Rules: Congregations and the IRS Guidelines on Advocacy, Lobbying, and Elections" (21 page PDF)

2016-11-16

The Magical Playlist

Practice of the Week
The Magical Playlist

How to Quickly Quiet Your Mind

Category: Occasional: These are practices suggested for "every once in a while." Some of them are responses to a particular need that may arise; others are simply enriching occasional enhancements to the spiritual life. All of them are worth a try at least once. And any of them might become a regular and central part of your spiritual practice.
“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” (William Congreve)

While we all want to experience a deeper peace in our lives, many of us are unwilling to commit to practice a spiritual discipline. Meditation is powerful, yet there are quicker ways to get some of the benefit. The Magical Playlist helps people let go of their worries, and melt into the serenity of their heart and soul.

The Magical Playlist is simply an assortment of your favorite, most heart-oriented and meaningful songs conveniently placed on one playlist on your digital music player or smartphone. By having a playlist (or two) of all your favorite songs, you can easily have access to deep feelings of love and peace. Your personal favorite songs have the ability to move you into your heart, uplift your spirit, and help you feel a depth of peace.

In my own case, I originally created two magical playlists. On one are all my favorite instrumental songs. I use this playlist whenever I don't want to have to engage my mind in listening to lyrics. It's amazing how, after hearing just one of these songs, I enter into a totally different mood. On my second playlist, I have all my favorite heart-oriented songs with lyrics I particularly like. Often, I'll listen to one of these songs whenever I desire to to feel peaceful inside, or as a way to get me in the mood for meditation.

A man named Frank came to see me complaining of marital difficulties. As he entered my office, it was clear that he was very tense. He told me that his spouse was fed up with him because of how stressed he was from his job as an air traffic controller. When he went home each evening, he'd spend the first three hours in front of the tube -- just trying to unwind from his job. By the time he started to feel a bit relaxed and sociable, his wife was ready to go to bed. After asking him some questions, I learned that he enjoyed classical music. I suggested he make a playlist of his favorite classical works, and listen to a couple of songs in his car before entering his house each evening. When he returned to my office the following week, he told me that his wife reported, "You've become a new man." Apparently, ten minutes of classical music helped Frank unwind more effectively than hours of TV. By the time he walked into his house each night, Frank was relaxed, refreshed, and emotionally available for his wife.

For many people, music is an easy and amazingly effective way to become centered. I have coached many of my clients to carefully choose the type of music to play before key events in their life. Before an important presentation, they might choose a favorite rock 'n' roll song. Before a romantic night on the town with their mate, they may choose a favorite love song. Before a time of meditation or prayer, they may choose some New Age or quiet piano music. By knowing what mood you'd like to get into, and choosing an appropriate piece of music to assist in that process, many people find they can successfully manage their moods much more effectively than ever before.

Of all the possessions I own, the music I carry in my iPhone is most treasured. By listening to these songs, I have almost immediate access to any feeling I want -- with no additional cost and no known side effects. In making the playlists, I looked through all the songs I own, and carefully selected the ones that have always had the most impact on me. Recently, I even created a couple of playlists of my favorite rock 'n' roll songs. It was a fun process.

Over the years, my two original playlists have blossomed into seven: two rock 'n' roll, three heart-oriented, and two musical compositions that help me feel peaceful. At least one time each day, I take a break from my activities and turn to my iPhone, tune into the music, and drop out of my mind's constant concerns. Whenever I meditate, I always listen to at least one song beforehand to help me get quiet inside. Try it -- you'll love it! After your five to ten-minute vacation, your mind will be clearer and your soul more soothed. With hardly any effort at all, you'll find that you're more centered in your heart and better able to handle whatever life throws your way.

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For list of all weekly practices: "Practices of the Week Index"

2016-11-15

Music: Sun Nov 20


Solo piano music by American composers is highlighted at this year’s Thanksgiving Service. In addition, the general call to U.U. congregations to make reference to Native American people at these services is reflected in excerpts from Arthur Farwell’s Impressions of the Wa-Wan Ceremony of the Omahas and Harvey Worthington Loomis’s Lyrics of the Native American.
Edward MacDowell’s seasonal favorite A.D. 1620 and a nifty set of variations on Yankee Doodle round out the Prelude music. Two arrangements of popular songs by George Gershwin are included in the Offertory. The CUUC Choir is on hand with the Spiritual “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?” and John Rutter’s embodiment of thankfulness in “For the Beauty of the Earth”. Read on for programming details.

Prelude: Adam Kent, piano
A.D. MDCXX from Sea Pieces, Op. 55*
                                                Edward MacDowell
Song of Approach from Impressions of the Wa-Wan Ceremony of the Omahas, Op. 21
                                                Arthur Farwell
Around the Wigwam from Lyrics of the Native American, Book I
                                                Harvey Worthington Loomis
Variations on “Yankee Doodle”         
                                                Anonymous American Colonial

*Prefaced by the following text in the score:
The yellow setting sun
Melts the lazy sea to gold,
And gilds the swaying galleon
That towards a land of promise
Lunges hugely on.

Anthem: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas
For the Beauty of the Earth
                                                John Rutter

Offertory:
Clap Yo’ Hands*
Who Cares?
                                                George Gershwin
*Ira Gershwin’s Lyrics:
Come on, you children, gather around.
Gather around, you children,
And we will lose that evil spirit
Called the Voodoo, Voodoo!

Nothing but trouble if he has found,
If he has found you, children!
But you can chase the hoodoo
With the dance that you do, you do.

Let me lead the way,
There's a new belief today,
But he'll never hound you;
Stamp on the ground, you children, come on!

Clap your hands! Slap your thigh!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Everybody come along and join the jubilee!

Clap your hands! Slap your thigh!
Don't you lose time! Don't you lose time!
Come along, it's "Shake your shoes" time
Now for you and me!

On the sands of time
You are only a pebble.
Remember, trouble must be treated
Just like a rebel;
Send him to the Devil!

Clap your hands! Slap your thigh!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Everybody come along and join the jubilee!

Anthem:
Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?
                        American Spiritual arr. by Greg Gilpin

2016-11-09

Music: Sun Nov 13


Sunday morning’s musical selections were chosen in consultation with Cathy Kortlandt, who won the chance to plan music for a worship service at last year’s Goods and Services Auction. Cathy requested works containing the life-affirming, awe-inducing expression “Alleluia”. In the midst of a month devoted to exploring the theme of Evil, in the aftermath of an election season which polarized our entire country, we hope that Cathy’s musical selections will provide a welcome, much needed antidote. Cathy provides the following comments:
Last year, I was lucky enough to win the privilege of selecting music for a service.  After much thought, I chose music with the theme of "alleluia".  I chose this theme because I find that it is somehow easy to postpone happiness and celebration, but grief and sadness always insist on being dealt with immediately.  "Alleluia" music reminds me to celebrate as fully and immediately as I grieve.

Read on for programming details.

Prelude: Lisa N. Meyer, soprano and CUUC Choir Director; Adam Kent, piano and CUUC Music Director;
Kim & Chris Force, vocals and piano
Battle Hymn of the Republic
                                                            Julia Ward Howe
Michael Row the Boat Ashore
                                                            Traditional Spiritual

Opening Music: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas; Kim Force, soloist
Hallelujah
                                                            Leonard Cohen (R.I.P.)

Offertory:
Halleluia from Messiah
                                                            George Frederick Handel

Interlude:
Alleluia
                                                            Randall Thompson
                                                           

2016-11-05

Days in Place Fauna List

Days in Place Fauna List



Could there have been a more beautiful day with the sun moving in an arc to paint all the colors of the trees?  In one tree, a nearly leave-less tulip tree, we spotted cardinals, house finches, robins, starlings, dark eyed-juncos, and a chickadee, many of them going to town on the seeds that rained down on our heads as we looked up.

Today marked the most species we have ever seen in one day - the place was hopping! 

So tomorrow when you come, look up, look down,  look far, for there is beauty all around you.



3 Grey squirrels (1 was black)
1 Red squirrel

5 Canada goose
2 Red-tailed hawk
1 Gull species
8 Mourning dove
2 Red-bellied woodpecker
1 Hairy woodpecker
1 Northern flicker
1 Pileated woodpecker
2 Blue Jay
3 American crow
1 Fish crow
1 Black-capped chickadee
1 Tufted titmouse
2 White-breasted nuthatch
30 America robin
4 European starling
1 Yellow-rumped warbler
5 Dark-eyed junco
1 White-throated sparrow
3 Northern cardinal
2 Red-winged blackbird
1 Common grackle
120 Blackbird species

13 House finch

2016-11-02

Face the Evil

Practice of the Week
Face the Evil
If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn)
The challenge, then, is to frankly acknowledge your own moral mistakes, empathize with those of others, and take appropriate action in the world.

A: Face Your Participation in the Sadness of the World

Journal each day for 10 days. At the end of the day, take inventory:
  • In what ways were you blind to that which is most life-giving?
  • Who or what did you refuse to see?
  • How or when did you neglect the magnificence of interconnected living?
Find a “spiritual buddy” and practice your confession. At least once in the middle of the 10 days and once at the end, face your own participation in the sadness of the world by speaking it aloud to someone else. (This may work better if your buddy is also doing this exercise and you can take turns confessing to each other.)

B: Answer Evil with Empathy

Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” So for this part of the exercise, empathize with people who do things that seem evil to you.

Every day for 10 days, collect or recall a story of a person doing evil. You might recall an infamous person from history who committed atrocities. Or you might leaf through the morning newspaper for accounts of people behaving in ways that strike you as evil. Or google “evil acts.” Begin by sketching in your journal each day one thing that one person did that struck you as evil.

Then: empathize. This is likely to be an exercise of your imagination. Imagine what the purported evil-doer was feeling and needing that produced the “evil” behavior? “Feeling” refers to emotions experienced -- sad, mad, glad, scared, and disgusted are the basic ones (SEE HERE for identifying emotions). “Needing” refers to any universally shared desire, keeping in mind that “universally shared” doesn’t mean “universally indulged or pursued.” Describe those feelings (which you, too, have felt) and those needs (the wants that you, too, are prone to have) that, as best you can guess, account for the behavior in question.

C: Do Something!

Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.” So after spending 10 days on "A" and "B," form a plan of action to reduce the evil in the world. Whether in your personal life, or in a more public sphere, do something beyond what is normal for you – something that lessens the impact of an "evil" in the world.

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For list of all weekly practices: "Practices of the Week Index"

2016-10-27

Music: Sun Nov 6


Consider arriving by 10am on Sunday November 6 for a special Music for All Ages presentation by Adam Kent and CUUC member Mary Lane Cobb. Adam and Mary will discuss the theme of Evil as it pertains to racism and discrimination, illustrated by the haunting poetry of Langston Hughes set to music by Margaret Bonds. Mary will perform several additional settings of Hughes’s poetry in the Music at CUUC opening event at 1pm that afternoon. In the Opening Music and Interlude, Manuel de Falla’s sultry ballet music for El amor brujo evokes witchcraft and obsessive, destructive love, and the Offertory features the wacky Poltergeist by American ragtime composer William Bolcom. Read on for programming details.

Prelude: Music for All Ages with Adam Kent and Mary Lane Cobb
I, Too:  the poetry of Langston Hughes and the music of Margaret Bonds
Opening Music:
Danza del Terror from El amor brujo
                                    Manuel de Falla

Offertory:
The Poltergeist
                                                            William Bolcom

Interlude:
Danza ritual del fuego
                                                Falla

2016-10-25

Music: Sun Oct 30


Sunday morning’s musical selections reflect on the “Day of the Dead” theme of the service. The Prelude features the slow movement of one of Beethoven’s early piano sonatas, one of the composer’s deepest expressions of grief and mourning. Soprano and CUUC member Kim Force, who offers several vocal works as well, offers the following comments about the Opening Music and the Interlude: In “I Will Follow You into the Dark”, the singer muses about what would happen if his love should die before he does. Chris Martin from Coldplay wrote “Fix You” for his wife after the tragic passing of her father, with whom she was very close. The song looks at how we try to support people suffering from loss.

Read on for programming details.


Prelude: Georgianna Pappas, piano
Piano Sonata No. 7 in D Major, Op. 10, No. 3
            II. Largo e mesto
                                                Ludwig van Beethoven

Opening Music: Kim Force, soprano
“I Will Follow You Into the Dark” by Death Cab For Cutie
Ben Gibbard

Offertory:
The Whippoorwill Dance              
                                    Joe Jordan

Interlude: Kim and Christian Force
“Fix You” by Coldplay
C. Martin, J. Buckland, G. Berryman, W. Champion

2016-10-20

Succeed at Rejection

Practice of the Week
Succeed at Rejection

How to Overcome Fear of Rejection

"He says the best way out is always through.
And I agree to that, or in so far
As that I can see no way out but through"
(Robert Frost)

When I was seventeen, I was very shy. It was hard to meet women my own age. By the time I was a freshman in college, I had only been on two dates. I was terrified of being rejected. My fear was like a prison, keeping me locked away in self-imposed loneliness. One day, I vowed I would overcome my fear. I would plow my way through it. I enlisted the help of a good friend to help sustain my motivation to face my fright head on. I gave my friend $50 and told him, "Don't give me this money back unless I get rejected by ten different women by the end of today." I figured experiencing ten rejections would lessen my fear.

I strolled down to the University Center to seek out women. As I approached the first, sweat was dripping from my forehead. My knees were shaking, and as I said, "Hello," my voice cracked. When she turned and saw me shaking and sweating, she worriedly asked, "Are you all right? Do you need me to call an ambulance?" I assured her she didn't to do that, and that I'd soon be OK. A brief, awkward conversation ensued before I mumbled, "Would you like to go out together sometime?" In a kind voice she responded that she had a boyfriend, but that she was flattered that I had asked.

Only nine more to go, I thought as I began to breathe again.

Each rejection got easier. I soon noticed that the women I spoke to seemed more nervous than I was. My rejections were proceeding rapidly and smoothly until the seventh woman I approached. When I asked her for a date, she said, "Sure."

I hadn't thought of that possibility. "Sure, what?" I said.

After she convinced me she was really agreeing to a date, I wrote down her number, and, in a state of happy amazement, soon asked another woman for a date. To my surprise, she also said yes. By this time, I was feeling at ease while I asked women out, and the results were often positive. In fact, I had to start acting like a jerk in order to reach my quota of ten rejections and get my $50 back. After a total of eight acceptances, I finally got my tenth rejection. In one magical hour I had set up my love life for my freshman year and put a big dent in my fear of rejection.

The key to overcoming fear of rejection is to set it up so that getting rejected counts as success. As I faced my fear, I saw that it wasn't so bad. I could survive. Since I was fully prepared for it, rejection didn't seem like a big deal anymore. I noticed that with each rejection, it got easier. In addition, as my fear went away and I became more relaxed, I was often rewarded with an unexpected "yes."

Perhaps there is some area in your life in which the fear of rejection has kept you from moving forward. Maybe you've made success too important. Instead, try rewarding yourself for just making an effort and getting a "no." You'll survive. You'll become less controlled by fears of failure. And you'll probably get some unexpected yeses.

The ability to face rejection is one of the most crucial skills for creating a happy life.

There's a spiritual lesson here. When you structure a situation for yourself in which you count failing as succeeding, you teach yourself that what life is really about is neither failing nor succeeding. It's about showing up. It's about bringing the fullness of who you are to every situation. If judgmental fears are keeping you from fully showing up as your unique self, a spiritual practice of plunging into those fears can lead you out the other side.

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For list of all weekly practices: "Practices of the Week Index"