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2020-05-15

From the Minister, Sun May 17

My colleague, Rev. Elea Kemler, serves our congregation in Groton, MA. She recently shared this, which I wanted to share with you:
"Last fall, there was a bear in the church parking lot. I was about to get out of the car, distracted by a million things, and there it was, big and shaggy brown and beautiful. I watched in amazement as the bear lumbered away. So much hovers at the edge of my attention. I am always trying to fit in one more email. It took a bear at my door to startle me into noticing. In these pandemic days, I am trying to attend to the world differently. Maybe it's easier because right now there is so much less to look at and listen to. Spring is slow to arrive here, so I am watching the purple crocuses finally push their way through the muddy ground. I have learned the different barks of the neighbor dogs and I notice how the early magnolia blossoms have come and gone quickly while the bright yellow forsythia lasts. There is suffering everywhere in the world right now, including in my own small community, where we are grieving the death of elderly parents and bringing soup to those who are sick, as are people everywhere. But I dare to hope. I hope that this Great Silence, which has come alongside the suffering, holds the beginnings of our healing. I hope that the slowness required of us now might teach us to understand ourselves, and help us to see the tender, sturdy threads which connect all living things."
In the midst of this time of loss, in this time of greater quietness, in the changes we are making and adjusting to, shoots of hope emerge with the spring. Maybe we are learning of ourselves the understandings that will bring better ways of being together -- more supportive of one another and more kind.

Yours in faith,
Meredith

The Liberal Pulpit

Recent past services:
Apr 5: "Taking Care, Giving Care." TEXT. VIDEO.
Apr 12: "Traditions of Liberation." TEXT. VIDEO.
Apr 19: "What's Your Great Vow?" TEXT. VIDEO.
Apr 26. "Attending to the Indigenous Voice" TEXT. VIDEO.
May 3. "Transforming Your Inner Critic" TEXT. VIDEO.
May 10. "There Is No Try" TEXT. VIDEO.

Also find these videos, as well as videos of many other past services, at our Youtube channel: HERE

Adult/Youth Religious Education

Sundays, 4:00 - 5:15, in zoom room ending 7899.

Click here:
https://www.zoom.us/j/2898507899
Or telephone 646-876-9923, and enter meeting ID: 289 850 7899

Jeff Tomlinson and Rev. Meredith Garmon will be leading conversation about Part 3 of 4 exploring this year's UUA Common Read: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States.

On Sun May 17, we'll look at pp. 117-177:
  • Chapter 7: Sea to Shining Sea
  • Chapter 8: "Indian Country"
  • Chapter 9: US Triumphalism and Peacetime Colonialism
An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States is the 2015 Recipient of the American Book Award, and holds the 2015 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature.

Order your copy from uuabookstore.org (or any major online bookseller).

More info about the UUA Common Read at uua.org/read

UPCOMING:
Sun May 24: Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, part 4.
Sun May 31: The 1619 Project, part 1.
Sun Jun 7: The 1619 Project, part 2.

Practice of the Week: Assess the Strength of Your Inner Critic

Category: WORTH A TRY, or OCCASIONAL, or MIGHT BE YOUR THING: The practices in this category are "worth a try" at least once. Some of them are daily practices, where giving them "a try" would mean doing them daily for a week. Others are one-time exercises to do and re-do quarterly or annually. Some practices in this category are great for responding to a particular need that may arise in your life. Others are simply enriching occasional enhancements to the spiritual life. Among these practices you may find the one particular practice that becomes your main and central spiritual practice -- or a Key Supporting Practice.


Your Inner Critic whispers, whines, and needles you into place. Ze checks your thoughts, controls your behavior, and inhibits actions. Ze thinks ze is protecting you from being disliked, hurt, or abandoned. Instead, your Inner Critic:
  1. constricts your ability to be creative.
  2. stops you from taking risks because ze makes you fear failure.
  3. views your life as a series of mistakes waiting to happen.
  4. undermines your courage to change.
  5. compares you unfavorably with others and makes you feel "less than."
  6. is constantly warning you not to look foolish.
  7. is terrified of being shamed and so monitors all your behavior to avoid this.
  8. causes you to suffer from low self-esteem, and possibly depression, because ze tells you that you are not good enough.
  9. can make looking at yourself in a mirror or shopping for clothes miserable because of its ability to create such a negative view of the body.
  10. can take all the fun out of life with zir criticisms.
  11. makes self-improvement a compulsive chore because ze bases the work on the premise that something is wrong with you.
  12. doesn't allow you to take in the good feelings that other people have toward you.
  13. makes you susceptible, and often victim, to the judgments of other people.
How Strong Is Your Inner Critic?

Answer each of the following, 0-5:
0 = never, ever
1 = rarely
2 = between "rarely" and "occasionally"
3 = occasionally
4 = between "occasionally" and "frequently"
5 = frequently

_____ 1. I wake up at night worried about the mistakes that I made the day before.
_____ 2. I replay conversations after I've had them to see what I've done wrong.
_____ 3. I don't like the way my clothes look on me.
_____ 4. When I'm with other people, I wonder if they're critical me.
_____ 5. I'm cautious about trying anything new because I'm afraid of looking foolish.
_____ 6. I'm afraid people will laugh at me.
_____ 7. I worry about what other people think.
_____ 8. I feel inferior to other people.
_____ 9. I wish I had a more attractive body.
_____ 10. When I look in the mirror, I check to see what's wrong with me.
_____ 11. When I read over something I've just written, I'm not satisfied with it.
_____ 12. I'm afraid that there's something basically wrong with me.
_____ 13. I wonder what other people would think of me if they really knew what I was like underneath.
_____ 14. I compare myself with other people.
_____ 15. I seem to attract judgmental people.
_____ 16. I question my decisions after I have made them and think that I might have done better.
_____ 17. When I say 'No' I feel guilty.
_____ 18. When I take a test like this, I'm sure that I don't do as well as other people.
_____ 19. I avoid taking risks if I can help it.
_____ 20. When I think about self-improvement I feel that there is something wrong with me that needs to be fixed.

Add up your answers to these 20 questions.
Less than 45 = small Inner Critic
46-75 = medium-sized Inner Critic
76-100 = large and strong Inner Critic

Once you've assessed the strength of your Inner Critic, you may want to practice ways of distancing yourself from (i.e., shrinking) your Inner Critic. See the Practice of the Week, "Confront Your Negative Inner Voice" for some approaches to take to your Inner Critic.

* * *

Moment of Zen: The Party

When you're glad, the world is glad. Because you're projecting? Your joy makes you notice the world's joy? Maybe because the world's joy makes you notice your own. Maybe you are the world?

Case
Members were excited about Raven's announcement.
Woodpecker said, "Let's have a party."
So the next night everybody gathered for grubs and leavings to celebrate.
Mole asked, "How is it to be a new teacher, Porcupine?"
Porcupine said, "Not sure yet."
Owl said, "The Assembly Oak is glad."
Badger asked, "Come on, how can that be?"
Porcupine said, "I'm glad for Owl."
Verse
Mountains, prairies, rivers, oceans,
great wide earth, sun, moon, stars --
They do this thing, individually and collectively,
That's like celebrating and like grieving
Simultaneously. Continuously.
They do this thing
That's like love, that's
Never not abundant, never not bereft.
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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E-Shrine of Vows

Check out our electronic CUUC Shrine of Vows: CLICK HERE. Eventually, these will be printed out and incorporated into a physical display. For now, draw inspiration from your fellow Community UUs by seeing what they have vowed. If you're vow isn't included, please email it Rev. Meredith at minister@cucwp.org

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