Minister's Post, Fri Sep 9

Dear Ones,

The water always flows. Pandemics come and pandemics go. This one is gradually beginning to pass into the background of our lives. The past year is washed away, and a shiny new congregational year stands clean, a fresh, blank slate. It's a good time to ask, “Where are you flowing?”

From time to time in life, it's good to pause and ask ourselves again some questions we may have asked before -- to check in with ourselves and how our answers may have evolved since last time. How are you changing now? Who, now, is the person you want to become? What is the spiritual work that you long to take up? What spiritual muscle toning exercises do you need?

It is my custom as we begin the congregational year to recall this reminder from my colleague Rev. Victoria Weinstein:
“If I go to the gym and people are sprawled out napping on the floor of the aerobics studio, I will think the gym management is not just remiss, but nuts. It’s no different in church. We’re all there for heart strengthening of a different kind. Leaders should be empowered to be able to say: 'Get off the aerobics floor, please. You can nap at home.' This isn’t about not loving people. It’s about being clear what congregational life is for."
As we ingather for the 2022-23 year ahead, we come together to do the work of nurturing our spiritual journey, fostering compassion and understanding here and beyond, engaging in service to transform ourselves and our world. Nothing less than that.

Together we can grow in depth and spiritual maturity. We do this by exploring together the significant issues on which religions at their best have always guided people to greater insight -- issues such as this year’s monthly themes:
  • Listening
  • Prayer
  • Compassion
  • God
  • Soul
  • Self-Cultivation
  • Nature
  • Money
  • Happiness
  • Shadow
Our Journey Groups are for exploring together, and spiritually growing and deepening, each in our own way. Journey Groups meet once a month, Sep through Jun. You won't want to miss a single one. However, even if you miss most of your group’s meetings, you'll still find it valuable to attend occasionally. Signing up does not commit you to attend -- we just need to know which group you'll go to when you do have a chance to go.

I have been so impressed to experience the wisdom and the connection – the love, laughter, and insight – that Unitarian Universalists can offer each other when give ourselves permission the structure for doing that. We have a whole lot more we can learn from each other than anything weekly sermons alone can convey.

You can sign up online at cucwp dot org – under “Community” select “Journey Groups.” If you haven’t signed up online, please do! Members, friends, and visitors are all welcome to sign up.

The other program central to our mission – engage in service to transform ourselves and our world – and to our vision, to commits “to people and the planet through social action and service” – is our Social Justice Teams. We have social justice teams for Environment, Racial Justice, LGBTQ, Hungry and Homeless, and others. The system is designed to be dynamic – with new teams coming into existence and other teams folding every year as the world changes and the energies and passions within our congregation shift. Any member can start a new team at any time: it takes five people to commit to it for a new Social Justice Team to be recognized.

Being part of this congregation means being part of its mission – our vow to nurture each other in our spiritual journeys, foster compassion and understanding, and engage in service. The world needs our Unitarian Universalist voice at the table. It needs our caring hands reaching out in compassion.

Let us be ingathered, for a new year stretches before us. Let us flow together, roll on together as a mighty river, and, in the words of the prophet Amos, “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

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 Sep 4 Service, "Listening"

The Aug 28 Service, Rev. Kimberley Debus, "Crossing the New Bridge"


Maybe you can’t be fully focused on the present moment every waking second, but you can create sacred moments. Maybe just once a day for starters – just stop and pay attention for a minute. You may find it most easy and natural to do this outdoors, standing up. Bring attention to sight, sky, stance, smell, skin, and sound.

SIGHT: Look around. Note what you see. If you're stopping in a spot where you've stopped before, try to notice new discoveries and be aware of subtle changes.

SKY: Often, we see only what is at eye level. Is the sky bright, overcast, in-between? When you are aware of the sky, you are more aware of the day.

STANCE: Become aware of your stance on the ground, your rootedness and connectedness with the earth.

SMELL: What do you smell? Smell is the most fundamental of our senses, strongly associated with deep memories. Attention to aroma heightens the reality of the moment.

SKIN: Bring attention to what you're feeling on your skin: the temperature, the movement of air, the warmth of the sun or a damp chill.

SOUND: Now we come to the crucial focus of a sacred moment: listening to the sounds is the essence. Listen to the wind, the leaves, the water, and the birds. In a more urban setting, you’ll hear traffic, various machine sounds. Listening to sounds keeps the chatter of inner thoughts from intruding upon the moment. See the landscape and sky, feel the ground and the breeze, smell the air. And in particular: listen. It only takes a moment to create a sacred moment.

See the full post: Create Sacred Moments.

Here it is, your...
#127: Impermanence

Brains were made for keeping us alive. Their capacity to imagine the future is for helping us mentally rehearse potential future situations so that we will more effectively cope, in the event something similar were to happen. It can't imagine nonexistence because its imagination exists solely to prevent nonexistence. Thus, it can only visualize situations with us -- or with people we might have to deal with -- existing in them.

Through many spiritual practices, including Zen, one may come to apprehend that the self is the world. This is not imagining or visualizing, not a preparation for an eventuality of becoming the world, nor a preparation at all. It's just recognizing the fact that one's self comprises all of reality. Thus, the one who visualizes "your" futures will someday cease, but the self will continue in all its multitudinous other forms: ants, sticks, grizzly bears -- mountains, rivers, stars.

Speaking of stars. If this doesn't make sense, try being pensive beneath a starry sky for a while.

One night, under the starry sky, the circle was quiet and members seemed pensive.
Badger broke the silence and said, "You know, I can't visualize myself expiring completely."
Raven said, "A ghost."
Badger said, "Even ghosts are impermanent, aren't they?"
Raven said, "Take care of your miseries now, and they won't abide."
The one who attends to misery --
My inner Kannon hearing the cries of the world --
Gathers anguish up -- a curious burden
that buoys as it freights,
and liberates as it compels --
Smelts it and blends it into my mettle.
Alloyed gold
Is more durable than the pure stuff.
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon

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