That the powerful play goes on, and YOU may contribute a verse.
What will your verse be?
Among the definition of Intention is one from medicine: “The healing process of a wound.” The more common usage of the word is: an aim or plan. In the prior usage, the word deals with whether or not a wound has enough material to heal from connections of tissue and skin. Is everything touching, are there any gaps? In the latter definition we are speaking of our commitment to an outcome. What do I want to happen? It often arises when there is a gap between what we want and what we are living. It is our resolve to see that gap healed. But sometimes we have to admit, the gaps are wide and difficult to bridge. Intention can seem a thin tool with which to do the hard work of building connections.
Our January theme of Intention is well timed. We can all benefit from asking ourselves about how we are living and what we really intend. Life is too often so fast paced and demanding that we can easily forget what we really intend in life. In fact, we can go years without giving it much thought at all. And all the while, we feel the emotions that always measure what it costs not to be yourself and not to live as we really want to live.
This January and throughout our winter, with the help of Rev. Sue Sinnamon and our adult formation programs, we want to go deeper. Winter is a great time to do this important work. The cold and darkness remind us to turn inward and take stock of ourselves. Even if you live a busy life caring for children or others, we hope to help you connect with the opportunity to go deeper into the question of what you intend.
We hope we can all connect with our aims, strengthen our understanding, clarify intention and connect with the steps that lead us closer to the personal alignment of life and values. It always feels best. So we are putting out the call to examine what we intend through the month of January.
What do you intend with your life and your living? What is the plan you live and ends your serve? How do you assess the connections around old wounds or recent injury? What is your plan for wholeness?
I look forward to our conversations on these foundational questions and to your answers to this question: What is your intention?
 Oxford English Dictionary
Help us make luminaria of hope for the Christmas Eve Service! Visit the table by the Great Hall to decorate a paper bag with colorful tissue paper and messages of hope and inspiration. We will use them to line the chancel and entrance to the church on Christmas Eve.
(photo credit: Christina Thrasher)
Hope. Is the Possible, Positive?
In the twelfth month of the calendar months, we come to HOPE.
It slips in, in time for possible neglect amidst preparation for holidays and travel. Our calendars fairly begging us not to add one more thing. Our minds juggling how to get the work done and still take time off. Our disposition a bit rushed for thinking about a word that seems to do what we would rather not . . . to look outside ourselves and believe that the possible is positive.
Few of us are encouraged to take time thinking about what we hope for. We are assumed to hope for personal happiness and the happiness of family and friends but how much time do we take to reflect on “what does make me happy” and do I know how to be hopeful about that? Hoping, for many of us, is little more than a thin wish for unspecific good. We may not even imagine we should waste time on any sort of hoping.
Yet we know that the greatest psychological predictor of perseverance, the helpmate of happiness, even the support for compassionate living are rooted in our capacity to hold hope, even when it may be elusive. That makes hope the midwife of living well. Hope is no lightweight. It deserves our attention.
I invite you to give yourself a valuable gift this December.
Take time to consider hope in your life.
Think more deeply about it than you may yet have done. Look at how it is or is not working in your life. Take it apart, so that you may put it back together in a way that makes sense and life more valuable and true for you. Talk about it seriously and ask whether what you hope for has real roots and real branches upon which to grow your life well.
Your investment in hope, a real, adult and grounded hope, will nourish you and renew your self-understanding. It will make clear what is foggy. It can increase the peace.
For all of us, that is what I am hoping.
Though there are numerous observances during November, I have chosen to focus on
Native American Heritage Month
World Kindness Day – Nov. 13
Thanksgiving Day – Nov. 23
Native American Heritage Month
May we pause throughout the month to reflect upon and honor the Unitarian Universalist
sixth source, which is the spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate
the sacred circle of life, and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
Chalice Lightings & Blessings:
Where I sit is holy,
Holy is the ground.
Forest, Mountain, river
Listen to the sound.
Great Spirit circle
All around me. – Blackfoot Chant
Trembling with Joy
The great sea has set me in motion,
set me adrift,
moving me like a weed in a river.
The sky and the strong wind
have moved the spirit inside me
till I am carried away
trembling with joy. – Inuit Shaman Uvavnuk
“I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more.”
― Chief Joseph
How will we open our hearts to more abundance this month? Will it be in richer
conversation with our children, partners, neighbors? Will we hear the birds in the
mornings or notice the change in the light? Will we extend a helping hand where we
know it’s needed? Will we take time to sit with someone in pain? How might abundance
and justice be connected? Will we take time to express gratitude?
How Not to Talk About Abundance:
It was second grade and Father Mullen had come to speak to our class in preparation for our First Holy Communion Service, the following Saturday. He had a message for us to take home to our parents, he said. The good Father, a Ph.D. in History, a celibate, scholar, and someone who rarely engaged in a conversation with anyone younger than
high school may not have been the best spokesperson to connect deeply with seven year olds.
Father Mullen began to tell us what would not be allowed on Saturday by way of behavior, dress or parental behavior. He described in words we did not understand what was expected at the Saturday Mass. This was the 1960s, and though we did not understand much at all of what he was telling us, we could tell from his fervor that it
might be best to sit quietly, hands on our desks as he, the holy priest, continued to speak over our heads. Though I tried to process it, I could not catch much more than his absolutist manner. When parents could take photographs, something about not leaving early unless, something about a memento something. Whatever it was he expected us to
relay to our parents was way more than my second grade mind could make sensible. I could only read the anxiety around me knowing if I was struggling, so were others. Signaling a big finish, Fr. Mullen told us all…“Let me make myself abundantly clear…”
Oh yeah, I thought. I don’t know what I am supposed to tell my Mother. Nothing is clear but now, at last, I will be told what it is I am about to say…but nothing after that was any more sensible than what went before. For some reason, I could sit silent no more. Shooting my hand in the air so purposely, it was not ignorable, he relented before going on.
“Miss Pupke, what is it?”
Father, what is an “A-bun- dant-ly”. What does it mean?
He stopped, looked at us, and realized we were more polite than comprehending. Defeated, he looked at our teacher and he left the room. Our teacher, beloved by us all said: Abundant – It means a lot, a whole lot. Like God’s
love for you, like your parents love for you. Father Mullen just wants you all to show them all how much you love them too when Saturday comes.
I can do that.
Conversation is Key:
It can be difficult to talk with children about courage, what it means for them, how to engage with it, etc., most especially if parents/adults have not “checked themselves” about how they are engaging children.
The following article, How to Raise Kids Who Are More Tolerant Than You, from Greater Good Magazine (Sept. 26, 2017) offers five important suggestions:
1. Use specific, individualizing language, not generalizations
2. Highlight common ground instead of exaggerating differences
3. Check whether your body language matches your intentions
4. Remind kids of their choices of social groups with positive missions
5. Talk about when it’s time to take a stand
The entire article is an informative, short read at https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_raise_kids_who_are_more_tolerant_than_you
Rhonda Wingfield, DRE
First Unitarian Universalist Church
A Letter from Reverend Jeanne
Courage is not about not being afraid.
It is about being afraid and doing what you need to do anyway.
The way we see courage depicted in literature, art, and drama is all over the map. We see the coward who suddenly seems converted to bravery, the strong, admired hero who cowers when confronted with the truth and the anti-hero who winds up sticking around to take a with strangers. It makes sense that we don’t agree on courage, the need for it and whether we ought still to imagine we can encourage it in our culture.
This plays out in interesting ways. Parents often teach their children to be more risk adverse than brave out of a fear that they might be injured. Those with significant fears seek therapies or martial arts trainings. Some practice heroism rescuing Zelda. Others face the challenges of Marine boot camp. We all have some strategy for figuring out courage…including denial that it matters to us at all.
What I think is important for each of us to learn, know and remember about courage is this: it happens with fear. Being afraid is usually found right along with courage. People who are brave without fear are just reckless. Courageous always know a lot about fear and yet they also know about doing what is required anyway. They are in touch with the heart within. They know the possible cost. They understand the risk. But they will not excuse themselves from what is required just because they fear what might follow. What must be done, must be done anyway.
I admire courage more than just about any virtue when it serves others, risks for others. When I first saw the photos of Birmingham youth braving the water cannons and dogs of that city, I was amazed at their bravery. When I read the story of Wesley Autrey, who leapt to the aid of a stricken subway rider by flinging his body over the man on the tracks, I was in awe. When I think of the firefighters walking up the World Trade tower, I am humbled. But I am also taken with the politician who takes responsibility, the bystanders who get involved, the teacher who challenges the system or the employee who complains about how someone else is being treated. Which is to say…I am often privileged to be proud of you.
Rev. Jeanne M. Pupke
First Unitarian Universalist Church
We spent a good deal of time last year discussing covenant. Now we consider what our present covenant contains and whether it can or should be renewed. What do we promise to one another and how can we deliver?
October 8th, 2017
“Courage- For Those Who Would Rather Not”
We sense that the times when courage is required are not the best of times. Does the evidence really support this idea? Does the spirit within?
October 15th, 2017
“Collectively Brave: Courage as Team Sport”
Lone acts of courage are not always the hardest things. Acting courageously together…now that can be a true test. Join Rev. Jeanne in asking if we are people courageous enough to “go together.”
October 29th, 2017
“Harvest: What Have We Grown?”
Rev. Jeanne and Others
In many voices, a reflection on what the community of First UU has done, experienced together, lost and regained.