Minister's Post, Fri Apr 29

Dear Ones,

I saw this question in an advice column:
"I always desire what I don’t have: friends, food, lovers, material possessions. It seems like I never have what I want at any moment, that I’m always thinking, “What if…?” How can I learn to satisfy this desire with what I do have?"
Perhaps you also suffer from this problem. Geri Larkin's response is instructive:
"My experience has always been that it’s an enormous relief just to admit to myself that I’m obsessed by a desire for something. First, I can stop trying so hard to pretend that I don’t want something that, in fact, I do want. Second, most of the time something I think of as an overriding desire is often more a moment of 'wishful thinking.' Often seeing our desire simply as what it is – a desire – allows it to drop away, or at least loosens our hold on it. The few times when that hasn’t worked, gratitude has made me sane again. Instead of getting caught up in the desire, I literally start to list all of the things I’m grateful for, starting with the fact that every time I breathe out, my body breathes back in. I suddenly notice all the different colors in my teacup, the sound of the chickens outside. I call a friend, pull out an old journal to remember a former boyfriend."
Sometimes we are ashamed of our cravings. Or we try to deny them. Or we rationalize a justification of them. None of these strategies is helpful. Instead, simply be with the desire. Acknowledge it and pay attention to what it feels like. It's not your fault the desire has come to visit you, but trying to shove it out the front door just makes it flood back in through the back door. So just watch it until it fades away on its own. Or, if necessary, as Geri suggests, focus on gratitude.

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 Apr 17 worship service, "Passover! Easter! Ramadan! Liberation!":

The Apr 24 worship service, "Borders and Belonging":

PRACTICE OF THE WEEK: Ecospiritual: Across the Wide Universe

It’s time again for our Ecospiritual practice for this month – brought to you by Community UU’s Environmental Practices Social Justice Team: "Across the Wide Universe."

It all began back with the Great Radiance, the primordial flaring forth: the Big Bang. Our planet, sun, and solar system and the rest of what's out there are all connected by coming from that origin. Ultimately, not only are we kin to every living thing that shares our Earth, we are also kin to nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies. Brian Swimme writes:
“There was no place in the universe that was separate from the originating power of the universe. Each thing of the universe had its very roots in this realm. Even space-time itself was a tossing, churning, foaming out of the original reality, instant by instant. Each of the sextillion particles that foamed into existence had its root in this quantum vacuum, this originating reality.”
It is beyond our comprehension: the vastness of it all and our own insignificance.

This immensity, and its unity, can help us recapture the wonder that gets lost in our technological age. Wide-eyed awe is our birthright as conscious beings. Each of us is a part of something much, much bigger than ourselves.

Ecospiritual practices for this month include some time gazing into a night sky, investigating photos of deep space, and a “drop in the ocean” exercise. For the details on these, as well as group activities for your Ecospiritual group, see the full post: "Across the Wide Universe."

For the complete list of spiritual practices see the SPIRITUAL PRACTICE DIRECTORY.

Here it is, your...
#118: The Moral Basis

Dogen (1200-1253), selecting from earlier sources, instituted the 16 Precepts of Zen: three Refuges, three Pure Precepts, and ten Grave Precepts. The Refuges and the first five Grave Precepts constitute the "Eight Streams of Merit" (Theravada Scripture, Angutarra Nikaya 8.39) common to all branches of Buddhism. The Brahmajala ("Brahma Net") Sutra -- a Mahayana text dating back at least to the 5th century CE -- includes the five Angutarra Nikaya precepts and adds five more to make ten Grave Precepts. The Pure Precepts also come from the Brahmajala Sutra. The 16 precepts are:

Three Refuges:
  • Take refuge in the Buddha
  • Take refuge in the Dharma
  • Take refuge in the Sangha
Three Pure Precepts:
  • Do not create Evil
  • Cultivate Good
  • Benefit Others
Ten Grave Precepts:
  • Respect life – Do not kill
  • Be giving – Do not steal
  • Honor the body – Do not misuse sexuality
  • Manifest truth – Do not lie
  • Proceed clearly – Do not cloud the mind
  • See the perfection – Do not broadcast others' misdeeds or faults
  • Realize self and others as one – Do not praise yourself by comparison with others
  • Give generously – Do not withhold
  • Actualize harmony – Do not vent anger
  • Experience the intimacy of things – Do not defile the Three Treasures
Zen has these precepts, and others (e.g. "The Four Bodhisattva Vows"). A precept is:
"1. a commandment or direction given as a rule of action or conduct. 2. an injunction as to moral conduct; maxim. 3. a procedural directive or rule, as for the performance of some technical operation" (Random House Unabridged Dictionary).
So Zen's precepts articulate the moral component of Zen.

A moral component isn't the same as a moral basis. The basis of Zen is direct experience of oneness, nonseparation, and impermanence. Precepts are upaya ("skillful means") -- tools for our practice.

Some questions for exploring the case below:
1. When Porcupine says, "empty," do you interpret him as agreeing with Raven (that Zen is empty of any moral basis)? Or is he disagreeing with Raven's answer, calling it empty?
2. Relatedly, if Magpie wouldn't say, "empty," do you think that's because Magpie believes Zen does have a moral basis? Or, rather, would it be because Magpie wouldn't see Raven's "none whatsoever" as empty?

Porcupine came by for another special meeting with Raven and asked, "Does Zen have a moral basis?"
Raven said, "None whatsoever."
Porcupine exclaimed, "Empty! Empty!"
Raven said, "That's not what Magpie would say."
Porcupine bowed down and touched his face to the ground.
Raven asked, "Why do you bow?"
Porcupine said, "Magpie is bowing."
Raven put her beak to his ear and said, "See me after the talk tonight."
The mountain pass is unexpectedly steep and icy.
Or maybe the car keys aren't where I was sure I left them.
Certain people are such blind fools.
The demands of the day surpass reasonableness.
This is me, bowing --
Bowing gratefully to the difficulty.
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon

Religious Education: May 1, 2022

Religious Education & Faith Development
Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains
May 1, 2022

2021-2022 RE Theme: Community, Wholeness, Discovering Our New Normal
Family Conversations
Supporting Mental and Emotional Health
and Encouraging Communication at Home
Children & Parents/Caregivers Together

5 Fridays: April 22 - May 20, 7:00-7:30pm, Zoom 8428
TONIGHT! Children through 5th grade and their parents/caregivers are invited to the second of five sessions exploring mental and emotional health, designed to encourage conversations at home. This Friday, we will talk about relaxation skills and share practices. In the first class last Friday, we learned about understanding feelings, watching and discussing this video, then learning practices to name and share feelings on a scale of 1-10 and through daily high/low, and do a body scan. Dates & Topics: April 22, Understanding Feelings; April 29, Relaxation Skills; May 6, Understanding Thoughts; May 13, Managing Intense Emotions; May 20, Mindfulness. 

Youth Group

Tonight turned out to not work for youth so we are rescheduling the Quest Room and considering combining it with afternoon in the park plans. 8th-12th grade families, please let us know if youth are available Saturday, May 7, 1:00-3:30pm at CUUC. RSVP to youth@cucwp.org. Youth's friends are welcome!
This Sunday 
May 1
Interactive Webinar
What's Race Got to Do With It?
Creating Safe Spaces for Interracial Worship

11:45am, on Zoom with Viewing in Fellowship Hall

We encourage parents/caregivers to attend. Childcare will be provided.
This is an opportunity to participate in an important conversation about where we want  to go as a congregation in regard to being a multiracial faith based community. Let's deepen our practices together. 

Facilitators Rev. Lane Cobb and Rev. Eugene Holden will lead an online conversation designed to support traditionally white faith-based organizations that are committed to creating interracial worship communities. The guided webinar will help congregations learn to identify blind spots that create hidden barriers to attracting people of color, deepen their commitment to creating an open and welcoming community, and create a preliminary plan for building interracial worship relationships. Sponsored by the CUUC In the Spirit of Truth/Racial Justice Team. Contact: Jeff Tomlinson (jefftomlinson8@gmail.com).

Welcome & Information
for New & Visiting Families

11:30am-12:00pm, Room 43, Green Hallway
We are delighted to have several new and visiting families. Welcome!
We invite you to join our Director of Religious Education, Tracy Breneman, for a short information session about our Religious Education/Exploration programs, with Q&A. Childcare will be provided. Join us in the green hallway, classroom 43, 11:30am-12:00pm. Future sessions will be held May 22nd, and June 12th. Contact: Tracy Breneman, cuucwptracy@gmail.com 
1st-9th Grades
In Person

Wear a mask, enter through the RE lobby, and visit the RE welcome table. After worship, please pick up children 4th grade and younger before coffee hour so RE leaders can attend other activities. 

1st-5th Grade Class, Love Connects Us
Room 13 in the Red Hallway 
Norm H and Laura S are leading. 
I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other. — Harriet Tubman, conductor on the Underground Railroad

This session lifts up Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and returned again and again to the South to lead more than 300 people north to freedom in the Northern States and Canada. We focus on the second Unitarian Universalist Source, "Words and deeds of prophetic people which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love," expressed in children's language as "The people of long ago and today whose lives remind us to be kind and fair."

6th-7th Grade Class, Amazing Grace: Exploring Right and Wrong
Room 41 in the Green Hallway

Alex Z and Laura G are leading. 
If I do not have love, I am nothing. — adapted from 1 Corinthians 13:2

Does it really matter whether we do right or wrong? This session explores the question of how much impact an individual can have. The session begins with a round of Ethics Play and asks youth how much difference their decisions might make to the world. The session includes a story showing the impact of a single snowflake when it is added to the total of millions or billions more, an activity that highlights that even individual attitudes can have great power, and a story illustrating the "butterfly effect." Faith in Action asks youth to think of and perform spontaneous acts of love.

8th-9th Grade Class, Coming of Age Handbook & Compass Points
Room 11 in the Red Hallway 

Betsy W is leading with mentors. 
There is one inevitable criterion of judgment touching religious faith in doctrinal matters - can you reduce it to practice? If not, have none of it. — Hosea Ballou

In this class, youth will explore justice making and how UUs make a difference, recognizing differences between community service and social justice work, understanding the value of various forms of social engagement, and developing a sense of empowerment in the face of complex and significant social problems. Youth will have the opportunity to consider justice issues that are important to them and explore how they might incorporate them in their belief statement. Tracy B will join the last half of class to continue worship planning with the youth for the June 5th and 12th worship services. 

Click here for the spring RE schedule and program information.

10:00am Worship
In Person & Livestream

“Beltane” ~ Joe Gonzalez
May 1 is Beltane, the Celtic Fire and Fertility Festival celebrating the peak of spring and honoring life and light.
Roughly translated as "Bright Fire," Beltane is the time where Earth's energies are at their strongest and most active, its fertility is at its peak, and it is giving birth to new life! It is also the perfect time for us as individuals to harness the Earth's energies and put our own creations in motion. Is there a project you've been putting off? A life change you've been hesitating to make? Now is the time to plant the seeds of your desires and send them out to the universe to become manifest! Now is the time to ask: What will YOU create?

Quiet activity boxes are available for young people who attend worship. The Order of Service is available on our websiteTo 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. Revisit past services anytime at youtube.com/TheLiberalPulpit and subscribe!

Diane, Hans, Zack and Abby 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. Childcare will be extended this Sunday for the RE information session and Racial Justice Team's program. 
Annual Giving Campaign Update
Letter from the Treasurer
Our April Giving Campaign month is coming to an end and we are on our way toward our $420,000 goal. Most of you have increased your annual giving amount to account for the 6-7% inflation rate, so a BIG THANK YOU! We have a few days left in April, and as of now we are still short; currently we are at 74%, so 26% - or $110,000 - to go to reach our goal. Read the full letter here.

If you have not returned the Annual Giving form yet, please do so today by mailing it to CUUC in your self-addressed stamped envelope, or submitting your pledge online (https://www.cucwp.org/giving), or emailing the treasurer with your intentions for the next CUUC year (TreasurerCUUCWP@gmail.com). Thank you for responding quickly and generously, and for making our Annual Giving Campaign a success. 
Chris Kortlandt, Treasurer

Support our Graduating Seniors

We are getting ready to celebrate our youth who are graduating from high school and moving from youth into young adulthood: Miren Johnston (Gail Johnston); Jenna Thurman (Niamh & Jeff Thurman); Nadia Ryan (Diana Echevarria & Thomas Ryan)!

Please let our seniors know they have a faith community that loves and supports them. Write a note in the hymnals that will be included in their gifts from the congregation. Hymnals will be available Sunday before and after worship, or visit bit.ly/CUUCBridging2022 to submit a note. These hymnals will be an enduring reminder of beloved music, words, and community. Thank you!
Celebrate Ramadan at CUUC

Sat Apr 30, Fellowship Hall, 7:30pm
Ramadan Iftar at CUUC

All are welcome - and we will celebrate with all three Ghafoori families!

We gather at 7:30pm. Iftar, breaking the fast, happens at 7:51pm, sunset, followed by Magrib, the sunset prayer. The Iftar meal will be 8:15pm with Afghan entrees and desserts prepared by the Ghafoori families, plus additional potluck dishes. If you are moved to join in prayer please dress modestly; we will have head coverings available for those who do not have their own. Please also bring a prayer rug or yoga mat if you have one; we will have extras for those who need it. RSVP to Jane Dixon (lilrhodie@gmail.com) or use this link: CUUC Ramadan Iftar.

UU BIPOC Gathering

1st Mondays at 6:30pm, 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.

Unirondack is back and filling up fast!
After closing our doors in 2020 and a limited summer in 2021, we are excited for camp to return. Unirondack is a radically-inclusive, UU-founded summer camp located in the beautiful lake-filled Adirondacks on the ancestral lands of the Haudenosaunee. We're currently enrolling for spring and summer programs, and spots are filling up!

In addition, we're hiring! Unirondack is currently hiring for summer staff, including counselors, crew member's, a medical director (EMT or nurse) and a professional head cook. We offer salaried positions, and volunteer work-exchange for parents seeking to offset their camper's tuition. For more information about unirondack, visit Unirondack.org or email us at Director@unirondack.org.
Welcome Nicole!

Join us in welcoming Nicole Carter to our childcare staff! Nicole shares this introduction:
I was born and raised in the Parkchester section of the Bronx. I love working with kids and I’m currently an undergraduate in Lehman college studying to be a social worker. I have three children of my own and I work for Children's Village. I enjoy making people happy and traveling in my spare time. I believe that our children are the future and it takes a village to raise them. I like to keep a clear mind and listen and learn from others. In life it’s always room for growth. 

Center Lane Prom
Sponsored by PrideWorks

WJCS Center Lane Prom is a special event just for high school-aged LGBTQ+ youth and their allies! Click here for a flier.

WHO: High School-Aged Youth Only (please bring ID)
WHEN: Friday, May 13, 2022 from 7:30pm - 11:00pm
WHERE: Sonesta Hotel (formerly the Crowne Plaza) – 66 Hale Ave, White Plains, NY
HOW: Arrive solo, with a date, or a group of friends.  Come dressed in whatever way makes you feel like you! Dance the night away and be ready to pose for a prom photoshoot. Covid safety protocols will be in place. 
COST: $45 in advance, $60 at the door* Register Here (save $15, limited time)
QUESTIONS: Contact the Center Lane Team at (914) 423-0610 or centerlane@wjcs.com.

Don't forget Pride Academy – click here for the flier and the application

All Center Lane Links

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