Practices for Awe

Practice of the Week
Practices for Awe

Adapted from On the Journey, 2016 Oct: CLICK HERE

Option A: Photography Assignment: Capture Awe on Your Camera (or phone)

Over the next few weeks, try to capture a handful of pictures of awe in action. This might be snapping a picture of your child’s face mesmerized by a spider web in the woods or a frog jumping across the road. Or maybe your husband’s face as he stares intently and joyfully at your daughter making a save on the volleyball court or singing in her school play. It might also be a picture of the awe-inspiring event itself. Think that perfect sunset or a clear night sky splashed with stars. Or an intimidating wall of clouds rolling in and making way for a storm. Or maybe it’s a picture of your leg and hip, walking again--painlessly--after a hip replacement that has left you more amazed and grateful than you can say. Or maybe it’s just sneaking into your 5-year-old son or grandson’s room and snapping a shot of his face while he sleeps.

After you’ve collected your 5 or 6 favorite pictures, spend some time looking for commonalities. What about them reflect your unique definition of awe? In your journal, write about what your pics have taught you.

Option B: Take a Walk Until the World Lights Up

You might want to start early in the morning or in the evening right after dinner. You could also set aside a Saturday afternoon. Whenever you start, your one rule is that you can’t stop until awe has crossed your path. In a sense, this exercise is an act of faith – faith that awe is scattered all over the place waiting for us to notice it rather than believing that awe is this one rare thing that only shows up a precious few times in our lives.

Come to your group prepared to talk not only about how long a walk you had to go on, but also about how you got yourself into a space to see and notice what was waiting for you.

Option C: A Video Meditation Exercise

This exercise involves a few steps:

Step One: Watch These Four Videos And Choose the One That Most Affects You. Click on the title to go to the Youtube video.
Step Two: Set Aside a Half Hour and Watch the One That You Chose a Few Times. Watch it in the spirit of meditation and reflection. First watch it with openness, turning off your analytical brain. Then watch again with the intention of identifying a phrase or word that sticks out to you. Spend some time trying to figure out why that phrase or word captured your attention. Ask yourself what it might be trying to say to you. Finally, watch it again with the question “What must I do?” in the forefront of your mind.

Step Three: Perform an action or make a change in your life based on your experience of step two. Write in your journal your reflections.

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


Music: Sun Oct 2

In honor of Rosh Hashana, solo piano works by composers of Jewish descent are featured on Sunday morning. Felix Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words reflect the composer’s preoccupation with the unremitting rhythmic momentum of much Baroque music overlaid with the long-breathed lyrical lines typical of nineteenth-century Romanticism. George Gershwin’s Three Preludes were originally part of set of five first performed by the composer at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan in 1926. The CUUC Choir is also on hand with a traditional Hebrew text and the jaunty Fill-a Me Up! By Pepper Choplin. Read on for programming details.

Prelude: Adam Kent, piano
Song without Words in E Major, Op. 19, No. 1 “Sweet Remembrances”
Song without Words in C Major, Op. 102, No. 2 “Tarantella”
                                                            Felix Mendelssohn
Three Preludes
I.               Allegro ben ritmato e deciso
II.              Andante con moto e poco rubato
III.            Agitato

Anthem: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas

Ha Shalom*    
Greg Gilpin
*Translation:  Peace shall be for all the world.
                          All the world shall be for peace.

Song without Words in Bb Major, Op. 67, No. 3 “Pilgrim’s Song”

Fill-a Me Up!  
Pepper Choplin  


The Birthday/Funeral Gift

Practice of the Week
The Birthday/Funeral Gift

How to Feel Totally Appreciated

"If you wish to live, you must first attend your own funeral."
-Katherine Mansfield

The best present is the gift of love. While love is not something you can package, sell, or put on your shelf for later use, there is a gift you can receive from you friends and family that is the next best thing. The BFG -- "Birthday/Funeral Gift" -- is a gift you ask for from people who care about you. It's a present that can help you feel loved for many years to come. It can pick you up when you're feeling down, and it can send you soaring to new heights when you already feel pretty good.

A good time to ask for this gift is around the time of your birthday. Most people are more than happy to give this gift because it makes them feel good, makes you feel good, and it doesn't cost anything except a few minutes of their time.

I came up with the idea of the Birthday/Funeral Gift when I was having my 33rd birthday. I had recently had a near death experience, and was feeling glad to be alive. I realized that I didn't need or want any material gifts, but instead I wanted the gift of feeling loved and appreciated. Therefore, I invited people who cared about me to a birthday party I was throwing for myself. I told them not to bring gifts and that I would ask them instead to share a favorite story about me at the party.

Once the party had been going awhile, I asked everyone to form a circle. I explained that, as a gift to myself, I wanted everyone to share a favorite memory about their connection with me. I pointed out that at the funeral os deceased loved ones, people usually say wonderful things about the departed. I told my friends and family that, having nearly died recently, I wanted to know while I was still alive what people would say about me at my funeral. If they said them now, I could record their words and listen when I needed inspiration.

People were receptive. I put my recorder on, lay down in the middle of the circle, and closed my eyes. Since my eyes were closed and I didn't have to speak, I could more easily be receptive to what each person had to say.

Some people spoke about me as if they were actually attending my funeral, while others spoke to me more directly. Although I expected my friends and family to say nice things about me, I was surprised to hear the depth of their appreciation and love. I was also amazed by the many personal stories they shared, and the inspiring details of what they appreciated about me. I sat in the middle, motionless, doing my best to drink it all in.

When my Dad began speaking about me, it brought many in the room (including me) to tears. He shared how, of his three kids, he had worried about me the most. He saw how unhappy I was as a child, and was even concerned I might kill myself as a teenager. He then poured out his heart of how proud he was of me now. He shared that he could barely believe that, through many years of working on myself, I had become a person he deeply loved, enjoyed, respected, and looked up to. His words touched my soul. Something inside me relaxed, knowing how loved I was.

After everyone had a turn to share a personal story or appreciation, I was invited to come back to life. I was given many hugs; everyone felt high. I turned off the recorder, and put the recording in a safe place Occasionally, when I feel down or need a boost of love and confidence, I listen to it. It never fails to bring tears to my eyes and a dose of love to my heart.

The BFG can be done in many different ways. It is not necessary that all your friends and family gather in one place in order to benefit from this gift to yourself. An easy alternative is to write a letter to people you love explaining what you would like from them. Tell them that you're looking for a story of appreciation and/or what they would say about you at your funeral. It's a good idea to briefly explain why you want this, and how you will use it as a loving gift to yourself in times of need. In your letter, tell your friends and family in what form you would prefer their contribution: letter, fax, email, or digital audio file. Give them plenty of time to respond before your birthday. You can read (or listen) to them all at once, or savor each one as it arrives at your house.

Thee BFG is perhaps the best present you will ever receive. Unlike the possessions we typically get as gifts, this present can impact you for many years. It can show you that you really do matter in the lives of other people. It can inspire you to give your love and share your gifts with loved ones -- knowing that such things are always noticed and appreciated. The love you feel for others, and the caring they feel for you, shouldn't wait until tragedy hits. Let the healing words and affection flow now, while you and your loved ones can still soak it in. Let this new form of birthday gift help inspire and heal you -- or someone you love.

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


Music: Sun Sep 25

Wedding ceremonies embody a ubiquitous form of covenanting. Depictions of Norwegian country weddings by Unitarian composer Edvard Grieg are featured in Sunday morning’s musical Prelude. Check out the homepage of CUUC’s website for a preview of Adam Kent’s performance of Wedding Day at Troldhaugen. Elsewhere, the CUUC Choir presents several joyous selections, including an arrangement of a traditional African melody. Native American culture is also on display in the Offertory, in the form of a short piece from American Edward MacDowell’s New England Idyls. Read on for programming details.

Prelude: Adam Kent, piano
Norwegian Bridal Procession, Op. 19, No. 2
Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, Op. 65, No. 6
                                    Edvard Grieg

Anthem: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas
I Hope You Dance                 Tia Sillers and Mark D. Snaders, arr. by Ed Lojeski     

Indian Idyl, Op. 62, No. 6
                                                Edward MacDowell

Takadamu* (Lead the Way)           
 Swahili by Sally K. Albrecht and Jay Althouse
*Translation: Lead the way, step forward.
                         Go straight ahead, you’re on the right road.
                         Step by step.


RE Curricula 2016-2017

CUUC Lifespan Religious Education fosters a diverse community of all ages where people are accepted and loved for who they are. Our community supports an open exploration of beliefs, guided by Unitarian Universalist Principles. We inspire spiritual growth and strive to make a difference in the world.

The curricula used in our Religious Education Ministry are chosen to best facilitate the child’s natural progression into awareness of self, others and the world of which we are all a part.

Nursery & Pre-K: Chalice Children strives not just to teach about our faith, but also to provide experiences around the strength of community, the wonder and awe that transcend everyday understanding, and life issues we all share. Early childhood is filled with curiosity and wonder. In a group setting, with loving adult guides, young children can engage in spiritual seeking, develop their openness to sharing, and experience the benefit of a supportive community.

K-1st grade: The Discovery Year nurtures children’s spiritual and religious growth through connections to an ever-widening environment. It offers discovery and celebration as children explore their own and other kinds of families, the congregation, nature, and religious and cultural days.

2nd-3rd grade: Free to Believe and Love Will Guide Us explore UU Principles and Sources while nurturing the social, emotional and spiritual lives of children. With an emphasis on love, the curricula help children consider lifes “big questions” through hands-on activities, stories, games, songs and discussions. Children learn that asking questions is valued, even as they begin to shape their own answers.
4th-5th grade: Toolbox of Faith invites participants to reflect on the qualities of our UU faith, such as integrity, courage, and love, as tools they can use in living their lives and building their own faith.
Sing to the Power affirms our UU heritage of confronting "powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love." Participants experience their own power, and understand how it can help them to be leaders.

6th-7th grade: Riddle and Mystery assists children in their own search for understanding. Each session introduces and processes a Big Question that can be found on almost anyone’s list of basic life inquiries.
Heeding the Call explores linked oppressions in our society and also encourages personal growth in values that counteract the marginalization of others. Youth learn that as people of faith we are all called to love justice, with our words and also with our deeds.

8th-9th grade: Our Whole Lives is a sexuality education program for youth that models and teaches caring, compassion, respect, and justice. It is a holistic program that moves beyond the intellect to address the attitudes, values, and feelings that youth have about themselves and the world. In an inclusive and developmentally appropriate manner, it comprehensively addresses sexuality and relationship topics.

10th-12th grade: Youth Group is a flexible but structured program for our youth. The group determines the exact content of sessions, engaging in activities here at CUUC as well as in the community. Youth Group leads a worship service for the congregation and also hosts a Pancake Brunch.

Our Whole Lives Lifespan Comprehensive Sexuality Education Series is an age-appropriate education program that promotes sexual and relationship health. The series provides accurate, developmentally appropriate information, increases self-esteem, develops interpersonal skills, and teaches responsibility for personal health and safety. Parents are required to attend an orientation and sign a permission form in order for their children to participate.


Music: Sun Sep 18

Sunday morning’s musical selections explore the monthly theme of Covenant from a number of perspectives. Consider arriving at 10am for Music for All Ages. This monthly presentation features the music of Claude Debussy and the trail-blazing ways the composer broke with past musical covenants in order to discover novel, sensually charged modes of enhanced expression. Elsewhere, early twentieth-century piano works by composers from the Catalan region of Spain are featured.  In the Opening Music, Secreto from Federico Mompou’s Impresiones íntimas speaks to a tender, personal covenant. The Interlude, Divagación by Xavier Montsalvatge was a wedding gift to pianist Alicia de Larrocha, a musical tribute to another sort of covenant. Finally, the Offertory, Mompou’s Canción y danza No. 9, is based on a Catalan folksong El rossinyol (The Nightingale), which deals with the covenants between the song’s narrator and the testament she entrusts to a traveling nightingale about her unhappy marriage. Read on for programming details.

Prelude: Music for All Ages with Music Director Adam Kent
An interactive, family-friendly presentation on Claude Debussy and broken musical covenants.

Opening Music:
                                    Federico Mompou

Interlude: Divagación
 Xavier Montsalvatge

Offertory: Canción y danza No. 9


Science & Spirituality

"Science and Spirituality" meets on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month, at CUUC, at 11:30.

Next meeting: Thu Oct 13, 11:30a

We are currently discussing Steven Weinberg, To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science

We discussed this book on Sep 8 and Sep 22, and will complete it for our Oct 13 meeting.

Grab a copy of the book and join us!

From the back cover:
In this rich, irreverent, and compelling history, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg takes us across centuries from ancient Miletus to medieval Baghdad and Oxford, from Plato’s Academy and the Museum of Alexandria to the cathedral school of Chartres and the Royal Society of London. He shows that the scientists of ancient and medieval times not only did not understand what we understand about the world — they did not understand what there is to understand, or how to understand it. Yet over the centuries, through the struggle to solve such mysteries as the curious backward movement of the planets and the rise and fall of the tides, the modern discipline of science eventually emerged. Along the way, Weinberg examines historic clashes and collaborations between science and the competing spheres of religion, technology, poetry, mathematics, and philosophy.

An illuminating exploration of the way we consider and analyze the world around us, To Explain the World is a sweeping, ambitious account of how difficult it was to discover the goals and methods of modern science, and the impact of this discovery on human knowledge and development.
Reviewer Comments:
“A thoughtful history.” (The New Yorker)

“The long march toward the modern scientific method is well-trodden territory for historians of science, but in tackling this familiar topic, Steven Weinberg offers a thoughtful, supplementary viewpoint.” (The Washington Post)

“Steven Weinberg, the world’s preeminent physicist, provides a masterful journey through humankind’s scientific coming of age. With its refreshing candor and lyrical prose, To Explain the World is a delightful celebration of our passionate drive for understanding.” (Brian Greene)

“This book transmutes the base metal of a mere history of science into pure gold -- into a magisterial celebration of a long and heroic struggle, still incomplete, to understand nature. Only a committed scientist of Steven Weinberg’s brilliance, experience and breadth of insight could have accomplished this.” (Ian McEwan)

“Refreshing and well-written. . . . To Explain the World tells a rich, meaningful tale about the emergence of science.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“Fascinating. . . . A sweeping narrative of the progression of ideas. . . . Weinberg masterfully explains how the emergence of the modern scientific method, the mechanism by which we interrogate the world and devise well-supported explanations we can be confident in, is itself a discovery.” (Lewis Dartnell, The Telegraph)

“Weinberg exemplifies a growing tendency in popular science writing to offer the matter of science and not just a superficial reading. It gives the book a bracing intellectuality. . . . This is a great book, a necessary book for our time.” (The Independent)

“A refreshing contrast to other tomes on the topic. . . . With To Explain the World, Weinberg reminds us to be humble not only about what we know, but how we know it. It’s a nuance, but an important one.” (The Guardian)

“I am amazed by what Steven Weinberg has done in this book. It is a unique and highly civilizing guide, obviously the result of years of wide-ranging scholarship, even with strategic humor.” (Gerald Holton)

“Weinberg is a fine writer and communicator about ideas beyond his own field. . . . He has clearly carried out extensive scholarly investigation for the book, and it works as history. But what makes it stand out is his perspective as a top scientist working today.” (Financial Times)

“Weinberg has combined his credentials with his knowledge of the history of science to examine a fascinating issue: how attempts to explain the world have changed over time. . . . He writes simply and clearly, and includes many telling insights.” (BBC Focus)

“Weinberg writes with clarity and wit. . . . His reasoning can be fascinating -- and eye-opening. . . . Weinberg is one of our greatest defeners of scientific thought, and his wit is a welcome salve in this authoritative history.” (The Austin American-Statesman)

“An ingenious account. . . . The author has a keen understanding of the precise details of his subject. . . . Readers will come away with a stimulating view of how humans learn from nature.” (Kirkus)

“Weinberg advances keen insights. . . into the intellectual structure of science. . . . A compelling reminder of how science works -- and why it matters.” (Booklist (starred review))

“With his usual scholarly aplomb, Weinberg leads readers on a tour of early scientific theory, from the ancient Greeks to the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century. . . . Accessible and smoothly written, Weinberg’s book offers new insights on what has become familiar territory for pop-science readers. (Publishers Weekly)

“Entertaining. . . . The book should make any history of science buff’s reading list. . . . Weinberg gets it right.” (Forbes)

“A bravura performance. Writing with grace and verve, Weinberg explains complex conceptual nuances with admirable clarity.” (Physics Today)

“The book is a magnificent contribution to the history and philosophy of science. It tells an exciting story. Why on earth did good science take so long to arrive?. . . . Weinberg writes with great verve and clarity.” (The Times Literary Supplement)


Music: Sun Sep 11

CUUC’s annual Ingathering and Water Communion celebrations are marked by music with aqueous associations. The Choir is on hand with a joyous African-American Spiritual as well as a reflective offering by Amy F. Bernon.  Music Director Adam Kent provides selections from a wide stylistic range, including an arrangement of another popular Spiritual, “Deep River”, as the morning’s Offertory.

Water inspires many of the other solo piano selections, including an evocation of a water nymph by Debussy, a turbulent image of roiling waves by Ernst Bloch, a babbling brook in the hands of Unitarian composer Edvard Grieg, and the refreshing sprays of a fresh-water spring from Franz Liszt’s travelogue of Switzerland.

Read on for programming details.
Prelude: Adam Kent, piano
Ondine, from Préludes, Book II
The Fresh-Water Saleswoman from Histoires
At Sea from Poems of the Sea

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

Deep River
                        Traditional Spiritual, arr. by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor 
 A Song Sung Once          
Amy F. Bernon
Water Communion:
Still Waters:
Venetian Boatsong, Op. 30, No. 6
Shining Waters:
Au bord d’une source, from Années de Pèlerinage, “Suisse”
Stormy Waters: In Mid-Ocean from Sea Pieces, Op. 55
Rushing Waters: Little Brook, Op. 62, No. 4