Deep Time Journeys

Practice of the Week
Deep Time Journeys

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

To cultivate a healthy sense of perspective, try contemplating deep time. The Earth has existed for 4.5 billion years. Human brains aren’t wired to grasp such vast stretches of time. We try analogies: if the Earth’s timeline were a football field with one goal line representing the formation of earth and the other representing the present, the emergence of humanity would be about an inch from present. Or: if the history of Earth were condensed to a single year, each day would represent over 12 million years. Life first appeared about Mar 22; nucleated cells on Jun 19; multicellular animals on Nov 12. Sharks appeared on Nov 26. Dinosaurs roamed from Dec 12-26. Homo habilis appeared on Dec 31, just after 6:30pm; Homo erectus at 8:20pm. Anatomically modern humans first appeared at 11:45pm on Dec 31 – only the last 15 minutes of earth’s “year.”

Our arrival on Earth was quite sudden when considered from the perspective of the Earth itself. It is as though Gaia blinked, and suddenly found all of us here! But blink again, and we will pass like smoke on the breeze. Life, and the Earth, will go on without us. This realization can have a profound impact on how we view ourselves as a species. Our 15-minute-old species won’t make it another minute (8,500 years) with our contemporary lifestyle.

Many other species will probably leave along with us, mostly those who, like us, came along on New Year’s Eve: the blue whale, Siberian tiger, and mountain gorilla. The truly enduring life forms, our single-celled siblings, will continue happily into the next year without us.

Reflecting that our time on this Earth has been so brief – and the time remaining even briefer – may be uncomfortable. Yet it may also be comforting. We are part of a story much greater than our own, the grand story of life itself.
“We are one of perhaps 30 million species on the planet today, and countless millions that have gone before. ... We are called to acknowledge our dependency on the web of life both for our subsistence and for countless aesthetic experiences: spring birdsong, swelling tree buds, the dizzy smell of honeysuckle. We are called to acknowledge that which we are not: we cannot survive in a deep-sea vent, or fix nitrogen, or create a forest canopy, or soar 300 feet in the air and then catch a mouse in a spectacular nosedive.” (Ursula Goodenough, The Sacred Depths of Nature)
This story is indeed so much bigger than our one species, and yet our story is inextricable from the story. Looking through the lens of deep time, we can see humanity more clearly as a precious and rare spark of Earth's self-awareness. We are of the Earth and are the Earth, suddenly and fleetingly self-aware. Ours is an ultrasocial species of great cognitive and emotional complexity and adaptability – perhaps some future species will equal or exceed us in these regards.


1. Deep Time Altar. Clear your altar of items, then place upon it symbols of the Earth as it existed before humans. For example, stones can symbolize mountains or tectonic plates. A leaf, pinecone, or flower can symbolize the plant kingdom, which has flourished on Earth for hundreds of millions of years. A feather or figurine of an animal might represent animal life. A small bowl of water can stand for ancient seas. Be creative. When you've completed the altar, sit with it and ponder your place in this grand epoch of life.

2. Deep Time Meditation. Visit a museum of geology or natural history, and approach the exhibits with a contemplative mindset. Engage your spirit as well as your brain. Wander the exhibits of fossils or rocks slowly and mindfully. At the various displays, imagine the world as it was when the that rock or fossil was formed. Imagine witnessing the living creature, or simply the landscape. Bring your journal and write either poetry or prose to help you reflect on the experience. Sketching or drawing may also helpful.

Group Activities

Deep Time Ceremony. In a long hallway or outdoors, measure out a fifty-foot line, representing the approximately 4.5 billion years of Earth's history. On this scale, 10 feet represent a billion years, a foot represents 100 million years, and an inch represents a little over 8 million years. Designate one end of the line as representing the formation of the Earth and the other as representing the present. Mark the following major events on the line, adding others as you like:
  • 3.5 bya (billion years ago): earliest life appears in the oceans
  • 3.25 bya: photosynthesis
  • 1.9 bya: first cells with a nucleus
  • 600 mya (million years ago): first multicelled organisms
  • 500 mya: earliest land plants
  • 245 mya: age of dinosaurs begins
  • 65 mya: age of dinosaurs ends with asteroid impact
  • 3.5 mya: earliest proto-humans
  • 130 kya (thousand years ago): modern humans
  • 10 kya: earliest human civilizations, recorded history begins.
What you decide to do from here is up to your group's unique creative process. You might have each member walk the timeline as a contemplative meditation – perhaps with another person reading aloud each milestone along the line as they walk. Create poetry, songs, and/or stories to celebrate each point on the line. Another possibility would be to position people at events along the line. Walk from the beginning to the present, pausing at each person to hear them describe the significance of the event.

Questions for Group Conversation:
  • How long do you think humanity will endure? What factors might influence this?
  • Does the process of contemplating deep time change the way you think about humanity? About non-human species?
  • How does the deep time story differ from other creation stories you may have heard as a child?
  • Consider the concept of ownership in light of deep time. Does it change? If so, how?

* * *


Music: Sun Apr 3


Just in time to kick off our annual Canvass Drive, violinist Elena Peres returns to CUUC! Her bio appears below, and please consider staying for Elena’s recital of sonatas by “The 3 B’s” this afternoon at 12:30 p.m.


Violinist Elena Peres was born in Kyiv, Ukraine. She began studying the violin at the age of six with Jefim Schkolnik and graduated from Kyiv Specialized Secondary Music boarding school named after M. Lysenko. She moved to New York in 1994 and continued her violin studies with Professor Ariana Bronne at the Manhattan School of Music. As a winner of the Artist International Competition, she made her Carnegie Hall début in October 2001. Since then, she has performed numerous recitals in USA, Japan, Israel, Spain, France, Italy and Germany. An avid chamber musician, she has collaborated in chamber music recitals with members of the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, New Jersey Symphony, Dallas Symphony and Vienna Philharmonic. She has also appeared in concerts with David Sanborn and the legendary R&B artist Ray Charles, performing at the Winter Garden in NYC and the White House in Washington D.C. Some of her recent solo and chamber music performances include appearances at Teatro Principal, Capilla de Música de las Bernardas and The Cathedral of Burgos in Spain; Sala Suffredini and Teatro Alfieri in Italy; Eilat Music Center in Israel; Manhattanville College, Faculty House Columbia University and Isaac Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall in New York. Elena Peres holds a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from Rutgers University, where she was a fellowship recipient and a student of Arnold Steinhardt of the Guarneri String Quartet. Elena also holds a Master of Music Degree from Manhattan School of Music, where she was a full scholarship student of Glenn Dicterow, former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic. Dr. Peres is a faculty member at International Academy of Music in Italy, Burgos Music Festival in Spain and Summit Music Festival in New York. Currently, Dr. Peres is the Orchestra Director at the West Orange High School - one of the largest public school string programs in the country. Under her direction, the orchestra has recently performed at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center.





Gathering Music: Elena Peres, violin; Adam Kent, piano

Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 8 in G Major, Op. 30, No. 3

            Allegro assai

                                                Ludwig van Beethoven



Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 8 in G Major, Op. 30, No. 3

            Tempo di Minuetto (excerpt)



Sonata for Violin and Keyboard in B Minor, BWV 1014


                                                J. S. Bach


Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3 in D Minor. Op. 108

            III. Un poco presto e con sentimento

                                                Johannes Brahms

Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3 in D Minor. Op. 108

            IV. Presto agitato (excerpt)






Minister's Post, Fri Mar 25

Dear Ones,

I have said – in the pulpit and out of it – “You are perfect, exactly the way you are.” Each moment is perfect and wondrous, I have said. I know, however, that when we are sick or injured or very tired nothing seems perfect. When we are plodding from one moment to the next and every task is a heavy burden, then wondrous perfection seems very far away. How can this be a bed of roses if all you are feeling is a thousand thorns?

There is wisdom in the body – whether it is a body vibrant, healthy, energetic, and raring to go -- or a body aching, tired, worn out and hurting. Sometimes the body has been ready to muscle through any problem that might arise. Sometimes it isn’t willing to even stumble along.

When all you can do is slow down and watch as your body does all it can to keep you alive under the circumstances, then slowing down and watching is just the wisdom you need. Your brain doesn’t need to figure out what to do – and couldn’t. All you can do is trust that your body is doing the best it can, so trust it. (Assuming, in the case of disease or injury, that you are availing yourself of doctor's advice.)

Vanessa Goddard, dealing with a prolonged illness, wrote:
“The body isn’t just a vehicle for realization, or for getting things done. It’s the root of wisdom—its very source. Sometimes we need to be nudged to remember this. Sometimes the reminder is a bit more blunt. But at the end of the day, the body will have the last word. Mindful of this, I decided it was time to pay closer attention, and to create the conditions that would allow me to better hear what it had to say….None of us can jettison the body or turn a deaf ear to its wishes for long. The body will have the last word….So I am gentling myself back into the soft center of each moment, the spaciousness at the heart of everything. Here, there’s neither fatigue nor vitality, neither illness nor health, neither work nor rest. Here, what I have is what I want, and there’s simply and always my life as it is: perfect and whole.”
Yours in the faith we share,

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

I.C.Y.M.I. (In Case You Missed It)

The Mar 20 worship service, "What We Merit":

PRACTICE OF THE WEEK: Whatever You Meet Is the Path

From Norman Fischer’s Training in Compassion, training #14 is: Whatever You Meet is the Path.

“The obstacle is the path,” as the Zen saying goes. That’s because everything is the path. Whatever happens, good or bad, make it part of your spiritual practice – which you do by noticing that it already is. We are always doing spiritual practice, whether we know it or not. You may think that you lost the thread of your practice, that you had been going along quite well and then life got busy and complicated and you lost track of what you were doing. Maybe you think you are very far from your best intentions. But this is just what you think. It's not what's going on.

Everything is practice, even the days or the weeks or the months or decades when you forgot to meditate and forgot to pay attention to your spiritual thoughts and exercises. Even then you're still practicing. You’re practicing whether you notice you are or not, but, if you can, notice you are.

To practice the slogan, "Whatever You Meet is the Path," keep it in mind, no matter what is going on, no matter how distracted you think you are. Particularly when something unexpected happens, remind yourself that this, too, is the path. You are on the path.

That negative chatter about how you’ve gone astray is part of the path. If you understand it that way it won’t bother you so much. And if it does, fine – being bothered is the path, too.

See the full post: Whatever You Meet Is the Path

Here it is, your...
#113: Mara the Founder

In Buddhism, Mara is the demon who appeared to Siddhartha Gautama after his awakening and tried to tempt him to keep his enlightenment entirely to himself. Mara is "the personification of the forces antagonistic to enlightenment" (Nyanaponika Thera). As Raven recognizes, the forces antagonistic to enlightenment -- and thus also antagonistic to practice -- are also necessary for practice/enlightenment.

Our guides on the great way include the passions and delusions, blowing smoke from their ears, as well as our calm insight.

Black Bear appeared one evening and said, "Tell me about Mara. I understand that he is the Great Destroyer."
Raven said, "The Great Founder."
Black Bear said, "That's what the Buddha Macaw is called."
Raven said, "Yes, but she never learned to blow smoke from her ears."
Psychotropic drugs
Utilize brain receptors
there for a reason.

Like that,
We are made to receive
our companions:
   ruby anger,
   ochre shame,
   blue-black fear,
   chartreuse envy,
   and all the rest.

Good medicine
In the right dose.
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon


Religious Education: March 27, 2022

Religious Education & Faith Development
Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains
March 27, 2022

2021-2022 RE Theme: Community, Wholeness, Discovering Our New Normal
Did You Know...

Unitarian and Universalist youth led the way for the 1961 merger of the two faiths. View a timeline of events in the merger of Unitarians and Universalists. Read more about UU history on the UUA website and in these notes. The Coming of Age class will be learning about our history this Sunday. 

An Easy Way to
Connect with Children & Youth

Occasionally, we have a Sunday when only one member of a teaching team is available. When that happens, you have the opportunity to sit in! Having a second adult in each class helps us uphold our Safe Congregation practices.
Visiting class is a wonderful way to get to know the children and youth. It demonstrates that you value their presence in our CUUC community and support their spiritual journey. And it makes it possible for us to offer RE in a safe environment. We’d love to have you on our standby list! For more about the assistant role, click here. Contact Tracy to volunteer, cuucwptracy@gmail.com
Searching for a Child Care Provider

Do you have a babysitter you love? Do you know someone who is patient, kind, and gentle with children, and would like a little extra income? Are you in an online parent or neighborhood group where you could post our job announcement?

We are hiring another Sunday morning child care provider to ensure we are living up to our safe congregation practices. Starting as soon as possible, the hours are Sunday, 9:45am - 11:45am with additional hours occasionally for congregational events. We are initially hiring through June 2022 with the hope the position is funded for next year, so will prioritize candidates who are available into the future. Contact Diane (dakmv@aol.com) and Tracy (cuucwptracy@gmail.com).

Chamber Concert
"2 outta 3 B's: Sonatas by Beethoven and Brahms"

Sun Apr 3, 12:30pm, Sanctuary and Livestream

Join us, in person or virtually, as Music at CUUC presents violinist Elena Peres and pianist and CUUC Music Director Adam Kent in concert. The performance features works from two of classical music's famous "Three B's": Beethoven's Violin and Piano Sonata No. 8 in G Major, Op. 31, No. 3, and Brahms's Violin and Piano Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 108. Suggested donation: $20 for adults; $10 for students and seniors; children 13 and under $5, with a maximum family donation of $45. Visit our website to use the donate button or click directly: bit.ly/MusicCUUC-donate. The login for the live-stream will be bit.ly/Music-at-CUUC, or phone in (audio only): 646-876-9923. Webinar: 761 321 991, Passcode: 468468.
UU BIPOC Gathering

1st Mondays at 6:30pm, April 4, May 2, and June 6.
If you identify as Black, Indigenous or a person of color (BIPOC), you're invited to join us for the Central East Region's BIPOC. In our gatherings we are joined by lay folks of color, lay leaders of color and/or religious professionals of color to be in community. Our conversations focus on topics like wellness and resilience and our goal is to center BIPOC experiences and create space to explore our UU experiences. Contact Sana Saeed at ssaeed@uua.org for connection information. 

Youth Art & Activism
Photo Exhibition and Movie

Wednesday, April 6th
Bedford Playhouse
6:00pm Youth Photography Show
7:00pm Movie Screening and Youth Led Panel Discussion with Monica Berra, Film Producer - A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks explores the power of images in advancing racial, economic, and social equality as seen through the lens of Gordon Parks, one of America's most trailblazing artists, and the generation of young photographers, filmmakers, and activists he inspired. View the official movie trailer here. To lean more and RSVP for the free event, visit the WYA website

Common Read Discussions

In Defund Fear: Safety Without Policing, Prisons, and Punishment, the 2021-2022 Common Read, community leader and lawyer Zach Norris lays out a radical way to shift the conversation about public safety away from fear and punishment and toward growth and support systems for our families and communities.

We invite you to read Defund Fear, then join one of our four small group discussions:

  • Sun Apr 24 at 11:45m, facilitated by Adine Usher (on Zoom)
  • Tue Apr 26 at 7:30pm, facilitated by Kevin McGahren-Clemens (at CUUC)
  • Thu Apr 28 at 7:30pm, facilitated by Tracy Breneman (on Zoom)
  • Sat Apr 30 at 11:00am, facilitated by Jeff Tomlinson (at CUUC and on Zoom)

To sign up, contact Pam Parker (admin@cucwp.org) with your group choice. You can also contact Pam to purchase your copy of Defund Fear.

This Sunday 
March 27th
Tracy is away this weekend.
Joe Gonzalez will be the RE point person Sunday morning, supported
by members of the RE Council. You will find Joe and REC members
at the welcome table in the RE lobby. 

Diane and Hans offer childcare for young children. Everyone wears a mask. No snacks are served. Drop off and pick up in room 32 in the yellow hallway. 
1st-9th Grade Classes
In Person

Wear a mask, enter through the RE lobby, and visit the RE welcome table. After worship, please pick up your children so RE leaders can go to other activities. We will continue using blue dots on nametags to indicate completed vaccines. Share updated vaccination information with Tracy.

1st-5th Grade Class, Love Connects Us
Room 13 in the Red Hallway 
Norm H is leading class with Eileen M
Say not 'I have found the truth,' but rather 'I have found a truth.' — Khalil Gibran, from The Prophet. Unitarian Universalism is a living tradition. We expect that what we find to be true may change over time as new life experiences shape our search. This session guides participants to "seek the truth in love" again and again as part of their own search for meaning. 

6th-7th Grade Class, Amazing Grace: Exploring Right and Wrong
Room 41 in the Green Hallway
Christine H is leading with Gail J
The mind is a field in which every kind of seed is sown. — Thich Nhat Hanh
This session is the first of four that focuses on ethical development. This one uses the metaphor of a garden and growing plants to explore how it is that we can develop the positive qualities we want to see in ourselves.

8th-9th Grade Class, Coming of Age Handbook & Compass Points
Room 11 in the Red Hallway 
Betsy W is leading with Raquel B and mentors.
This class focuses on our dual faith heritage of Unitarianism and Universalism, which merged in 1961. Youth will learn about some individuals who were central in our Unitarian and Universalist history. 

We look forward to seeing you!!

10:00am Worship
In Person & Livestream

“Biology and Spirituality” ~ Rev. Meredith Garmon

The natural sciences don't imply any particular spirituality, but they may, if we let them, inspire our spirits. Here we'll look for what spiritual pointers we may draw from recent findings about microbes. Fun, eh?

To join the worship livestream, click https://bit.ly/CUUC-Worship, or phone in (audio only): 646-876-9923. Webinar: 761 321 991, Passcode: 468468. Due to a recent Zoom update, you will now need to enter your e-mail to join. 

Orders of service are e-mailed and uploaded to our website prior to each Sunday.  Revisit past services anytime at our YouTube Channel.
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
Tracy Breneman, Director of Faith Development and Religious Education, cuucwptracy@gmail.com
Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains  
468 Rosedale Ave · White Plains, NY 10605-5419