Minister's Post, Fri Nov 26

Dear Ones,

For this Thanksgiving weekend, I offer some words from Brother David Stendl-Rast (b. 1926):

"The root of joy is gratefulness... In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.”

“Look closely and you will find that people are happy because they are grateful. The opposite of gratefulness is just taking everything for granted.”

“We are never more than one grateful thought away from peace of heart.”

“Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy -- because we will always want to have something else or something more.”

“Everything is a gift. The degree to which we are awake to this truth is a measure of our gratefullness, and gratefullness is a measure of our aliveness.”

“People who have faith in life are like swimmers who entrust themselves to a rushing river. They neither abandon themselves to its current nor try to resist it. Rather, they adjust their every movement to the watercourse, use it with purpose and skill, and enjoy the adventure.”

“There is a wave of gratefulness because people are becoming aware how important this is and how this can change our world. It can change our world in immensely important ways, because if you're grateful, you're not fearful, and if you're not fearful, you're not violent. If you're grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people, and you are respectful to everybody, and that changes this power pyramid under which we live.”

“One single gift acknowledged in gratefulness has the power to dissolve the ties of our alienation.”

“In moments of surprise we catch at least a glimpse of the joy to which gratefulness opens the door.”

“Can you be grateful for everything? No. But in every moment....You can’t be grateful for war in a given situation, or violence, or sickness, things like that. So the key, when people ask, “Can you be grateful for everything?” — no, not for everything, but in every moment.”

“Meaning springs from belonging.”

“Whatever life gives to you, you can respond with joy. Joy is the happiness that does not depend on what happens. It is the grateful response to the opportunity that life offers you at this moment”

“The greatest gift one can give is thanksgiving. In giving gifts, we give what we can spare, but in giving thanks we give ourselves.”

“As we learn to give thanks for all of life and death, for all of this given world of ours, we find a deep joy. It is the joy of trust, the joy of faith in the faithfulness at the heart of all things. It is the joy of gratefulness in touch with the fullness of life.”
Yours in faith,

Join a Journey Group: http://cucwp.org/journey-groups

ICYMI (In Case You Missed It)

The Nov 21 worship service, "Gratitude for Gratitude: Gratitude, Grace, and Grief" will soon be posted on our Youtube Channel: HERE.

You can read the text of "Gratitude, Grace, and Grief" in two parts at The Liberal Pulpit:
Part 1
Part 2.

Covid Review

The Worldwide numbers are not reliable, and likely are greatly underestimating the actual prevalence of Covid-19. These numbers may nevertheless give us an indication of trends.

New Cases
Average New Cases per Day, worldwide:
Peak week (Apr 23-29): 828,613
Lowest since peak (Jun 15-21): 361,003
Highest since the June low (Aug 24-30): 660,604
Two weeks ago (Nov 4-10): 473,795
Last week (Nov 11-17): 508,137
This week (Nov 18-24): 562,500*
*Since Oct 17, new cases per day have increased 40% (an average increase of 0.9% per day for 38 days).

Average New Cases per Day, US:
Peak week (Jan 5-11): 256,107
Lowest since peak: (Jun 15-21): 11,981
Highest since the June low (Aug 27 - Sep 2): 167,598
Two weeks ago (Nov 4-10): 77,628
Last week (Nov 11-17): 88,545
This week (Nov 18-24): 95,884*
*Since Nov 3, new cases per day have increased 35% (an average increase of 1.4% per day for 21 days).

Average New Cases per Day, Westchester County, NY:
Highest week of 2020 (Mar 23-29): 949
Lowest week, post-peak, of 2020 (Aug 19-25): 29
Highest week of 2021 (Jan 6-12): 861
Lowest week of 2021 (Jun 17-23): 11
Highest since Jun low (Aug 15-21): 212
Two weeks ago (Nov 4-10): 81
Last week (Nov 11-17): 129
This week (Nov 18-24): 156*
*New cases per day (as a moving 7-day average) are now 2.4 times what they were on Oct 24 (an average increase of 2.8% per day for 31 days).

Average Deaths per Day, worldwide:
Peak week (Jan 21-27): 14,818
Lowest since peak (Jun 29 - Jul 5): 7,694
Highest since the July low (Aug 19-25): 10,313
Two weeks ago (Nov 4-10): 7,171
Last week (Nov 11-17): 7,082
This week (Nov 18-24): 7,184*
*Since Oct 28, deaths have been relatively flat, staying between 6,922 and 7,230 for the last 27 days.

Average Deaths per Day, US:
Peak week (Jan 10-16): 3,553
Lowest since peak (Jun 30 - Jul 6): 244
Highest since the July low (Sep 17-23): 2,008
Two weeks ago (Nov 4-10): 1,171
Last week (Nov 11-17): 997
This week (Nov 18-24): 1,067*
*Since Nov 13, deaths have been flat, staying between 997 and 1,069 for the last 11 days.

TOTAL Deaths per WEEK, Westchester County, NY:
Highest week of 2020 (Apr 9-15): 365
Lowest week, post-peak, of 2020 (Sep 27 - Oct 3): 0
Highest week of 2021 (Jan 28 - Feb 3): 74
Lowest weeks of 2021 (Jun 16-22; Jun 28-Jul 14; Jul 18-27, and Oct 6-19): 0
Highest since May 22 (Sep 10-16): 9
Two weeks ago (Nov 4-10):2
Last week (Nov 11-17):2
Last 10 days (Nov 15-24):0*
In the last 24 days (Nov 1-24), Westchester County has seen 5 deaths from Covid, and none since Nov 14.

Worldwide, new cases have been increasing for the last 5.5 weeks (38 days). The deaths, however, have stayed essentially flat for the last 4 weeks.

In the U.S., new cases per day (7-day average) have been increasing for the last 3+ weeks (i.e., since Nov 3) -- and have increased 35% in the last 21 days. Deaths, however, declined 47% in 57 days from Sep 23 to Nov 13, and since Nov 13 have been flat.

The US fully-vaccinated rate reached 59.1% as of Nov 24. The last percentage point gain took 24 days. The percentage point before that took 19 days.

Meanwhile, the Westchester County fully-vaccinated rate is 71.5% (as of Nov 24) -- up 1 percentage point in the last 21 days. The percentage point before that took just 15 days.

Winter is coming: be careful out there!

Practice of the Week

From Norman Fischer’s Training in Compassion: Training #2 is See Everything As a Dream.

Seeing everything as a dream will coax you into relief -- the same relief that comes when you wake up from that nightmare and you realize that the dire situation you seemed to be in a moment ago is actually OK, it was just a dream. Your anxiety disappears, and you immediately lighten up and relax. Even in the worst situations, you can say: "Yes, this is terrible, this is not what I wanted, not what I'd hoped for, not what I'd worked for, maybe even what I had feared. But also it's not that bad. It is like a dream. Soon it will be in the past. Maybe I don't need to be so worked up about it. Maybe I can just figure out how to deal with it without that extra measure of anxiety and freak-out."

This is not a gimmick. Everything really is like a dream. When you apply this in your daily experience, it begins to change things for you. When you find that you are upset or angry, you can remember to see everything as a dream, and your mind will snap into a more alert present and you will find that you can lighten up to some extent. Everything is passing; every problem, no matter how tough is already solved, even as it's developing. For the full post, see: See Everything As a Dream.


Images: David Stendl-Rast by Diego Ortiz Mugica


Music: Sun Nov 28

 Looking forward to multiple duties at Sunday morning's worship service, as I contemplate running from piano to pulpit and back again. Grateful to Kim and Christian Force for sharing music-making duties with me! Read on for programming details.

Gathering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Suite, Op. 14
I. Allegretto
Bela Bartok
Once Upon a Time, Op. 71, No. 1
Peasants’ March, Op. 54, No. 2
Edvard Grieg

Opening Music: Kim Force, soprano; Christian Force, piano
Jason Robert Brown

Rumanian Dances
Dance with Sticks; Waistband Dance; On the Spot; Hornpipe; Rumanian Polka; Quick Dance

Musical Meditation:
Phantom, Op. 62, No. 5

Interlude I:
“Sweet Dreams” from Godspeed
Radney Foster

Interlude II:
Jesu, Joy of Our Desiring
J. S. Bach, arr. by Harold Bauer

Gigue from Partita No. 1 in Bb Major, BWV 825


Religious Education: November 28, 2021

Religious Education & Faith Development
Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains
November 28, 2021

2021-2022 RE Theme: Community, Wholeness, Discovering Our New Normal.
Gratitude Journals
In Chapel last Sunday, we heard a story about building a practice of gratitude, Gratitude is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego, then decorated our gratitude journals. If you'd like to make a journal at home, click here for prompts and images. Gratitude journals would make a great stocking stuffer or Thanksgiving table gift. You can write, draw, add stickers and cut out pictures in magazines to paste in. If you are gluing images on a leatherette surface, Mod Podge works great! 
Re-Learning Thanksgiving 
The United States has over four hundred years of ongoing violence against indigenous lives and culture. Some refer to ‘Thanksgiving’ as the ‘National Day of Mourning.' Below are resources to help us center indigenous experiences and voices during this season. 
First People of the Hudson Valley
The first inhabitants of this area are the Lenape, which means "the people," and are also known as the Lenni Lenape, meaning "true people."  Colonial settlers named them the Delaware Indians, after the Delaware River that runs through their territory.  Unami is the Munsee dialect of the Lenape of this area. It is a dialect of the larger Algonquian language group that covers much of northeast North America. Algonquian tribes consist of peoples that speak Algonquian languages and historically shared cultural similarities. There are hundreds of original tribes that spoke several dialects of this language group.  Sometimes you may read about the people of this area as the Munsee Lenape.  These names reflect subsets, movement, and language of the Nation, as well as colonial naming. 
Additional Resources

Green Thanksgiving Tips

Thanksgiving can be a resource-intensive holiday as Americans collectively travel billions of miles and consume more than a billion pounds of food. Here are some tips on how to enjoy the holiday while being mindful of your carbon footprint.

Sunday Morning 

9:30-11:45am, Room 32 in the Yellow Hallway
Diane and Hans offer childcare for young children. Everyone wears a mask. No snacks are served. Drop off and pick up in room 32, yellow hallway. 
10:00am Worship
In Person & Online

“Sound Sense and Sensible Sound” 
~ Adam Kent
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once alluded to life without music as “a mistake.” But do we really need music to exist? What does music offer us humans beyond thought and language? CUUC music director Adam Kent shares his thoughts.

At our in-person worship in our sanctuary, we follow Covid safety protocols, showing proof of vaccination, remaining masked, and maintaining social distance from those not in our household. Please have your mask on and proof of vaccination (or blue dot on your nametag) as you enter. We will not yet be hosting in-person or virtual coffee hour after worship.

We livestream the service on Zoom for people to join online or by phone. To watch the service online, click https://bit.ly/CUUC-Worship, or phone in (audio only): 646-876-9923, Webinar: 761 321 991, Passcode: 468468.

Orders of service are e-mailed and uploaded to our website prior to each Sunday.  Revisit past services anytime at our YouTube Channel.
RE Does Not Meet

Religious Education activities and classes are on break this Sunday, November 28th. We look forward to seeing you next Sunday, December 5th!
Connecting in Community
Holiday Craft Party
for All Ages

Saturday, December 4th, 10:00am-12:00pm at CUUC
This will be a fun morning for all ages, holiday crafts you can keep or share to brighten another person's day. Come make holiday cards and decorate chalice cookies. We also have someone coming to lead us in making earrings - for every pair you make to take home, you'll make a 2nd pair to be donated to a women's shelter. We hope you will join us! We will observe safety measures like wearing masks and distancing. *If you are available Friday afternoon, December 3rd, to help make chalice cookies at CUUC that will be decorated Saturday, contact Tracy Breneman (cuucwptracy@gmail.com). 
COA/Youth Group
Superhero Year

Sunday, December 12th, 10:10am-11:20pm 
Youth Group, assemble! If our everyday gifts were turned into powers what would that look like? Explore this question with the 8th-12th grade Youth Group this year by designing your own superhero and playing them in an escape room, creating a mask for them, creating a board game based on them, and more! We will be kicking superhero year off with a viewing of Marvel's What If? Stay tuned for more details, citizens! Sunday, December 12th, we'll combine COA and Youth Group to launch Superhero Year!
PlaceKeeping RE Activity

Sunday, December 12th, 10:10am-11:20pm 
Calling all EarthKeepers, AnimalKeepers, and WaterKeepers! K-7th graders will have another PlaceKeeping morning December 12th. We will be meeting in Keeper teams to discuss projects for this year. Bring your enthusiasm and any ideas you might have! We look forward to continuing the RE & PlaceKeeping collaboration. 
We Are a Community of Welcome

We invite you to share in joy of greeting each other, and helping Sunday mornings go smoothly and feel welcoming to all.
Greet Families in the RE Lobby - Contact Tracy Breneman (cuucwptracy@gmail.com). 
Join the Ushering Team - Contact Karen Leahy (karenleahy101@gmail.com). 

Lobby Greeters Wanted Sign up here to greet our visitors in person on one or more Sundays. Contact Jane Dixon (lilrhodie@gmail.com). 

Online Greeters Wanted - Click here to sign up for a Sunday or two... or three!
Holiday Donations

We are collecting donations that will spread some holiday cheer. Bins and individuals collecting donations will be at CUUC over the next three weeks. Thank you for helping brighten the season for those in our local community! 
Toys for a New Family - Donate new and gently used toys for boys ages 1 and 4 who are arriving in our area with their family from Afghanistan. Contact Jane Dixon (lilrhodie@gmail.com) with questions.  

Toys for the Ecumenical Food Pantry to Distribute - Donate new or gently used toys suitable for a small apartment. Contact Mary Cavallero (marycava4@gmail.com) with questions.

Financial Donations for the Ecumenical Food Pantry - Make checks to CUUC with the memo "Food Pantry" and mail or add to the Sunday collection. You may also pay online at cucwp.org by clicking the yellow Donate button. A small percent of online donations goes to PayPal fees; please consider increasing your donation by a few dollars to compensate. Contact: John Cavallero (jcwpny@gmail.com)

Coachman Gift Cards - Coachman Family Center is a local shelter for families experiencing homelessness. Donate cash or checks we will convert to gifts cards. We hope to offer $25 gift cards for each of the approximately 200 children currently residing at Coachman. Bring or mail checks to CUUC with the memo "Coachman Gift Cards," or donate online at cucwp.org by clicking the yellow Donate button and selecting "Coachman Gift Cards" from the dropdown list. Contact Jacy Good (goodjacy@gmail.com).

Toiletries - We collect toiletries year-round for Samaritan House (women's shelter) and Open Arms (men's shelter). There are black & white collection boxes for in the front lobby. Contact Ray Messing (914-592-4497).
Placekeeping Practice at CUUC

Join the Conversation on Thursday, December 2, 7:30pm, Zoom 8428. Our sanctuary sits within 8+ acres of land that includes walking trails that wind through our woodland, wetlands, gardens, and streams. A group of congregants has recently started meeting to brainstorm how best to enlarge our bonds with the beautiful place we share. 

This might include relaxing in the woods without electronics, hanging out with friends at the spirit fire, better understanding our ecosystem by studying its water, plants and animals, and working together to foster stewardship of our property at CUUC. Let’s discuss how to engage all of our congregants-from children in the Religious Education Program to Youth Group to adults of all ages and interests.  Please join us for an online conversation on Thursday, December 2, at 7:30PM. Zoom 8428. Meeting ID: 817 388 428 & Passcode: 468468. Please contact Cynthia Roberts for more information, CynthiaVroberts@gmail.com.   

Raising Climate-Resilient Kids

The CUUC EPG shares this great resource with our families: "How to Raise Climate-Resistant Kids," by Tim Lydon. "Climate-related disasters are on the rise, and carbon emissions are soaring. Parents today face the unprecedented challenge of raising children somehow prepared for a planetary emergency that may last their lifetimes. Few guidebooks are on the shelves for this one, yet, but experts do have advice. And in a bit of happy news, it includes strategies already widely recognized as good for kids." Read more here...

From the Committee on Ministry

Survey on Covenantal Relationship, Now through Sun Dec 5
Given two major transitions that we are facing – the return to in-person services and the possible retirement of our minister in June 2023 – this is a good time for us to explore our covenantal relationships. The brief COM survey has 11 questions and should take less than 10 minutes, so help us hear your voice by taking a few minutes to complete it. The survey will be open until Sun Dec 5. Click here to take our survey.

Story Time
On Break this Week
Story Time Resumes Next Thursday, Dec 2nd
Barbara is currently reading, Five Children and It by E. Nesbit (grades 4-7). While their parents are away, some children unearth a sand-fairy who is forced to grant their wishes, but luckily for them the wishes come undone at sunset.  
Join us next Thursday, December 2nd, 7:15-8:00/8:15pm. Zoom 3131Meeting ID: 313 195 3131 · Passcode: 468468. Contact Tracy Breneman (cuucwptracy@gmail.com)
For up-to-date information, schedules, and Zoom links, visit the RE overview and schedule. You may also consult our CUUC website calendarFamilies participating in childcare through 12th grade RE, please submit 2021 registration (click here for the form). Read All CUUC Announcements in the Weekly e-Communitarian Newsletter
Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains  
468 Rosedale Ave · White Plains, NY 10605-5419