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Meeting the Soul's Needs

Practice of the Week
Meeting the Soul's Needs

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

Living sustainably and healthily, meeting needs of body, soul, and the Earth, doesn’t come naturally to us. We crave fat and salt, for instance. Our ancestors needed this craving to keep them motivated to seek out fat and salt, but today we face health risks from overconsumption of fat and salt. We must rely on the softwiring of conscious decision to override evolution’s hardwiring.

We are also hardwired for spirituality, and various parts of the brain are unusually active – while other parts are unusually quiet -- during heightened states of meditation or prayer. Wanting to connect to something greater than oneself is as natural as craving salt.

The trouble is that just as junk food makes a liability of our food desires, so our culture turns our psychological and spiritual propensities into lifestyles that are unhealthy for us and for the Earth. When we substitute hours of watching “reality” TV (which rarely resembles any functional reality) for genuine relationships and community, we’re left isolated and lonely. When consumerism dominates and our strategies of self-worth have more to do with possessions than with generosity and service, we suffer – and the Earth suffers as we extract resources to meet our demands. Consumerism and media overload are junk food for the spirit, and just as unhealthy.

The needs of bodily, spiritual, and planetary wellbeing intersect in what Chellis Glendinning calls the Primal Matrix ("the state of a healthy, wholly functioning psyche in full-bodied participation with a healthy, wholly functioning Earth"). When we struggle to keep up with an ever faster pace of activity, never pausing to gaze at a sunset or daydream in the shade of a favorite tree, our soul languishes. We lose our connection to the Primal Matrix.

Just as we must consciously choose to eat well and exercise to meet our body’s needs, we also must choose to meet our soul’s needs, and make changes that move us toward a spiritually healthier, more soulful way of life.

Meeting the needs of our souls primarily involves relationships with our inner selves, each other, and the ecology in which “we live and move and have our being.” Yet we are so removed from our Primal Matrix of physical, spiritual, and ecological health that for most of us, rediscovering and reintegrating it requires significant effort.

A thousand different demands pull on us in all directions, and its easy to allow those who matter most to slip further down on our priorities. We need to place clear boundaries on our time and energy to protect what really matters. Prioritizing relationships with the people who are most important to us may involve something as simple as eating dinner as a family more often – or something as major as downsizing to a less expensive home. A simpler lifestyle both improves interpersonal connections and helps heal the Earth through reduced consumption and less strain on natural resources. Spending a family night at home hanging out and eating a home-cooked, locally-sourced meal instead of grabbing fast food and heading to the mall for some recreational shopping prioritizes those we love by feeding them better food and spending time together, supports local farmers, and saves energy. Such choices swim against the dominant cultural stream. Making them takes effort.

Set aside time to look deeply at your own life, and honestly consider what makes you happy. This requires regular, ongoing introspection, which further swims against the dominant cultural stream. Step back. Take time-outs. Breathe. Each day spend some being still and quiet, some time journaling, and some time with spiritual texts.

Caring for the Earth is a part of the Primal Matrix of well-being. “Ecobonding” (a term from psychotherapist Howard Clinebell) heals and transforms not only our human lives but the Earth. Your relationship with your planet and with her plants, animals, soil, water, and air must be grounded in the local. It requires consciously spending time in natural surroundings near you, allowing the Earth to become a sustaining, nurturing presence for you. It also means making lifestyle choices that help preserve and heal the Earth.


1. Cloud Watching. On a sunny day, leave behind all electronic devices, find a place with an unobstructed view of the sky, spread out a blanket, and spend at least a half hour daydreaming and staring at clouds.

2. Small Change. Adopt one new Earth-friendly habit. Maybe hang out your laundry on sunny days, or taking a ceramic mug to meetings instead of using the styrofoam cups. Make it simple, but make it stick. Whenever you engage in your new habit, take a moment and pause to think about how you are connected to the Earth and all its systems.

3. Touchstone Connections. Place a small object, such as a polished stone or seashell, into your pocket or change purse every day. Whenever you reach into your pocket or purse and see or touch the object, ask yourself the simple question: What does my soul need right now? Do this for one week, then reflect in your journal on the answers that emerged.

Group Activities

Downsizing Potlatch. Have group members donate items they no longer need or want, and offer them free to the wider community. Look into the “Buy Nothing Project” ( for ideas how.

Questions for Group Conversation:
  • What is your psychological or spiritual equivalent of junk food Does it adequately meet your needs or not?
  • What is your favorite place in nature? Why is it your favorite?
  • How can you make lifestyle changes that help create space and time for meeting your soul’s needs? What needs to change? What is fine as it is?
  • What makes you truly and deeply happy? Can you make more room in your life for this?
* * *

Minister's Post, Fri Dec 4

My dear companions on our faith path,

These are our times.

The most recent 7-day average of deaths in the US from Covid-19 is over 1,800 a day.

The peak 7-day average last April was just over 2,200 deaths a day.

The 238-day average (Apr 11 to Dec 4) is 1,100 people dead every day from Covid-19. It's been relentless -- for the last 8 months we haven't had a single week (any 7-day period) when we didn't lose more than 500 people a day. And weekly deaths are now threatening to exceed last April's peak.

"If you have tears," says Shakespeare's Marc Antony, "prepare to shed them now."

I do. And have shed some again this morning.


Practice of the Week

This week's suggested practice is sponsored by CUUC's Environmental Practices Social Justice Team. On the first week of the month, we are highlighting an ecospiritual practice. These practices are oriented toward developing our spirituality through our connection with our planet home and our responsibility to care for it. For December: "MEETING THE SOUL'S NEEDS"


Religious Education: December 3, 2020

Religious Education & Faith Development
Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains
December 3, 2020
2020-2021 Religious Education (RE) theme: JUSTICE & EQUITY
Supporting our young people in understanding justice issues, articulating their values, and engaging in faith in action with CUUC Social Justice teams.
K-12th Grade RE Classes Meet
This Sunday & Next Sunday

Sunday, December 6th

All K-12th grade Religious Education (RE) classes meet this Sunday. Log in to Zoom 8428 for class breakout rooms. Join with this password embedded link or enter Zoom meeting ID 817 388 428 and password 468468.

K-4th Grade, 11:30am
Lyra Harada is leading class this Sunday with Norm Handelman and Adam Kent. Lyra's lesson centers on a song about homelessness they'll listen to and discuss, then share an activity. *Bring drawing paper and drawing utensils for the activity. Children can also bring small envelopes to decorate during class. See the note below about decorating envelopes.

5th-7th & 8th-12th Grade, 12:00pm
The 5th-7th grade class joins the 8th-12th grade class to continue learning about the proposed 8th Principle. We have a special guest visitor this Sunday, a UU young adult of color who will share what the 8th Principle means to them. This is a wonderful opportunity we hope the youth won't miss! Jeff Tomlinson, Cyndi & Daniel Tillman, and Tracy Breneman will attend.
Classes meet again next Sunday, December 13th,
then we're on break through the holidays.

Significant Community Needs
~ You Can Help ~ 

Coachman Gift Cards

The Coachman Family Center in White Plains provides housing for families experiencing homelessness. For over 25 years CUUC has been providing holiday gifts for the children who live at the Coachman. 

This year we are collecting donations we will use to purchase $25 gift cards for each child living at the Coachman. There are 200 children living at The Coachman Family Center. We invite CUUC families to consider donating $25 per child in your household. Any amount will be gratefully received. 

To make a donation, you can mail checks to the congregation with “Coachman Gift Cards” noted on the memo line. You can also donate online via PayPal. For PayPal, visit our website ( and click on the yellow "Donate" button, or click here for a direct link. Be sure to choose "Coachman Gift Cards" in the drop-down  menu. You can donate until December 31st. For more information, contact Jacy Good (

Thank you for helping make a child's holiday a little more special.

Decorated Envelopes Needed
Gift Cards for Coachman

Everyone, especially our K-4th grade class, is invited to decorate envelopes for Coachman gift cards. We need 100 envelopes so decorate as many as you can.
The envelopes can be any size and we suggest using the standard 3 x 6 inch. Only decorate the front of the envelope so that the back can be used to write room numbers or names.

Drop envelopes off at CUUC in the container outside the building labeled "New toiletries & decorated envelopes" or mail them to CUUC 468 Rosedale Ave., White Plains, NY 10605. We need the envelopes by December 10th.
Ecumenical Food Pantry
In November we make our once-a-year appeal for direct donations to the Ecumenical Emergency Food Pantry of White Plains. Since March, the number of people served has soared and it is now estimated that one in five in our county are nutrition insecure. Learn more here. Mail checks to CUUC with the memo “Food Pantry.” Or to pay online at, click the yellow Donate button, then "Use this donation for," select "Other," and type in the Note "Food Pantry." A small percentage of online donations go to PayPal fees; you may choose to increase your donation by a few dollars to compensate. Contact: John Cavallero (

Donate New & Used Items
NEW items for Samaritan House 
USED items for Grace Church 
Drop off at CUUC now through January 10th
NEW items to be donated: There is need for mittens, gloves, hats, scarves, socks and underwear.  Large and X-large items for men are especially needed.  Also, new toiletries for shelter residents, including shampoo, lotion, razors and deodorant. 
USED items to be donated: There is need for winter clothing such as warm sweaters, coats, hoodies, pants, boots, etc. for men, women, and children. 
Donations can be dropped off now in front of CUUC’s doors, in the Rubbermaid containers.  Please use large white plastic bags and clearly mark "Used" or "New."  New and used items must be kept separate. 
For further information call Samaritan House (914-948-3075) or 
Ray Messing (914-592-4497).  Your support is deeply appreciated!

CUUC Community
CUUC Dance Video

Let's have some fun! Terri and the Past Prime Time Dancers invite you to participate in a dance video.  All are welcome to contribute videos or photos to the project.  Click here for instructions. Videos/photos should be submitted to Terri by January 1.
Holiday Cards for Caring & Sharing

CUUC Caring & Sharing is preparing their annual holiday baskets. Goodies will be dropped off so we do not need volunteers to deliver and visit.  We do, however, need holiday cards for each person.  If you would like to write and mail a holiday card, contact Tracy for a recipient ( 
Holiday Wreath Sale - Going Fast!

We won't be holding our after-worship wreath sale outside CUUC this year, but you can still support Callie and Doyle Zisson's Scout troop - and beautify your space for the holidays - by emailing in your order. Their 12-inch decorated wreaths from Maine are $25 each, available while supplies last (HALF ALREADY SOLD!). To place an order and arrange either a pick-up at CUUC or hand delivery to your door, contact Alex Zisson (
Light or Extinguish the Worship Chalice

We would love to see your family!  Record a chalice lighting or extinguishing video for Sunday worship. We will provide the script. You'll record the week prior on your own device or meet Tracy in Zoom to record you. Email Tracy to participate ( 
Stay In the Know
Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains  
468 Rosedale Ave · White Plains, NY 10605-5419