All that passes descends, and ascends again unseen into the light: the river coming down from sky to hills, from hills to sea, and carving as it moves, to rise invisible, gathered to light to return again. Gravity is grace…All that has come to us has come as the river comes, given in passing away. Wendell Berry - The Gift of Gravity
It's hard to believe I'm beginning my fifth year at the Unitarian Society as your minister. Since I've been around the loop four times now, I'm starting to get a feel for the rhythmic and cycling behavior of the church year. For instance, with my office hours resuming, I know it's time to clean out my desk and check for empty Dunkin Donut coffee cups!! Each loop and return brings the familiar, but also the unpredictable and unknown. The upcoming church year holds unanticipated blessings, challenges, new friends and new ideas. Wendell Berry implies that all is grace. Everything is coming and going and it is all the natural way of the universe.
Linda and I have a new Buddha statue sitting in our herb garden. (The garden gnome is now free to travel more…) Most of the herbs in the garden are perennials, so we don't have to worry about them. They essentially take care of themselves and their seasonal instincts kick in. Right now the Echinacea is in full bloom; purple and yellow splashing the day with color. The Buddha is just sitting there calmly taking it all in. As the plants arrive, thrive and decline, the Buddha stays the same. A Buddha for all seasons; sun, rain, ice and snow. The Buddha is a symbol of our timeless awareness. The soul touches eternity and is eternity as it observes and moves through the changing manifestations of a rhythmic world. It doesn't matter how much movement there is, we are not swayed too far because of grace. The gravity of grace grounds us to the moment and the action. As we feel the energy and pull of life's cycles, we experience for ourselves the greatest experience. We are alive and know it.
Summer draws to a close and a new church year awaits us. Our schedule of summer activities took a slightly different, but equally valuable shape this year. This June only Rev Dave was able to travel to Fort Worth, Texas to attend this year's UUA General Assemby, but I understand we will all hear about his experiences at an upcoming Sunday service. I enjoyed the karaoke experience and especially appreciated the opportunity to see participation by the children. Bill White gave us a guided tour of his back yard and an appreciation of what one might find in an area partly planned and tended and partly left to nature. Our church retreat in the great outdoors at the Lipsky's was great fun and fellowship and for me, another welcome chance to interact with our little ones. As I write we are still considering a date for this year's rummage sale. I'm looking forward to seeing you all at the Ingathering Service.
GULF COAST RELIEF FUND
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) have jointly created the Gulf Coast Relief Fund to assist Gulf Coast UUs in the monumental tasks they will face in the coming weeks and months. The money they collect will go to local relief efforts and UU congregations so that their ministries in their communities can be restored. All funds received will be distributed under the auspices of the UUA’s Southwest and Mid-South Districts (representing those UUs in the affected areas who can best assess needs and priorities) and will be used entirely for hurricane relief. No more than 5% of funds received will be used to cover costs of administering the aid, so you can be confident that your contribution will go directly to helping with local relief efforts and the ministries of UU congregations. If you wish to contribute you may:
Visit www.uua.org and make an online donation
Send a check payable to the "UUA-UUSC Gulf Coast Relief Fund" to: Larry Stritof, UUA Stewardship and Development, UUA-UUSC Gulf Coast Relief Fund, 25 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108-2800
For those who enjoy online reading, the UUWorld magazine is available at www.uuworld.org. You can also sign up for a weekly email update. The online content is quite current. At this moment there is an article about the newly settled minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans who is planning to gather her new flock on September 11 for a virtual service by conference call.
WORDS OF THANKS
Our first service of the Fall season is on September 11th as we begin our 196th year as a religious organization in this town. We will once again open our church year with a water ceremony. Bring a small container of water from a special place you may have visited during the summer (Or from some place closer by!!) and we will pour them into a sacred bowl sharing our waters and our stories together. It is a simple ritual that captures the energy and life adventures of our spiritual community. This is also the 4th anniversary of the tragic events of 911. We will be observing a moment of silence and offering prayers as part of our ingathering service.
HOULTON COFFEEHOUSE OPENING SEPTEMBER 17TH
The Houlton Coffeehouse opens for its 13th season on Saturday evening, September 17th at 7:00 PM. Our featured performer is the electric blues band FLAT SODA from Presque Isle. You won't want to miss these guys!! Come and help us get the year off to a great start!! Open-mic will begin our evening, so if you are a musician, poet or stand-up comic looking for a stage, get there early and sign-up on the list. We are also featuring Equal Exchange Fairly Traded coffee this year. You can enjoy a quality cup of gourmet java, drink with a clear conscience and make a social statement all at the same time. We are also exploring the possibility of offering a variety of Equal Exchange products available for purchase at the coffeehouse if there's enough interest. (Organic coffees, organic teas, organic chocolate, T-shirts, etc..)
CELTIC MUSIC CONCERT
Clear your calendars for Saturday, November 12th and enjoy an evening of Celtic music in the sanctuary. This concert features the Celtic Aire duo of Jane Ogilvie on harp, accordion, keyboards and vocals, Helen Mòrag McKinnon, vocals and tin whistle, along with some terrific musicians. Percussionist Matt Carter contributes the exotic sounds of the bouzouki, various percussion instruments and vocals. David Nielsen adds the warm and rich tones of both the cello and the violin as well as his voice. William Toner augments the group with his colorful tenor voice , twelve string guitar and bass. This show includes original music, composed by group members, as well as traditional music with lyrics in English, Gaelic, and French. As this has been the Year of the Veteran and it is around the time of Remembrance Day (Canada) and Veterans' Day (USA), we have included selections about war events - a fitting tribute to those who fought to ensure our freedom. More details about tickets and concert time will soon be available.