The truth comes from balancing opposing forces such as full and empty, long and short, high and low, front and back. One's actions must be based on natural selflessness (Wu Wei). This is how the universe operates. When one follows the selfless way of Tao, he/she will be as eternal.
Practically speaking, a life that is vowed to simplicity, gratitude, unstinting work and play, and lots of walking, brings us close to the actually existing world and its wholeness.
While Linda and I were in Hawaii we were surrounded daily by the natural beauty of tropical flowers, fruit trees and the ocean surf. One of my favorite flowers was the bird of paradise which is pictured above. Its vivid colors and unique bird-like shape captured my imagination and the flower almost seemed to be perched and waiting to fly away at any moment! It didn't appear to be trying very hard to be itself. It just was. It was an effortless expression of its own beauty as a flower residing in an island paradise.
This is a botanical example of the Taoist concept "wu-wei." When something or someone is expressing its/their natural state of beingness, wu-wei is happening. The translation is literally, "activity arising from out of the source." When a person is operating from this inner core, their actions are natural, effortless and selfless. They are like a bird in paradise just doing their thing. As we begin our new theme for the year of "right relationship", we will take a closer look at what's involved in this type of lifestyle and how hard it is to be natural and effortless while we're trying to maintain our balance. Right relationship implies an aware relationship with everything and everyone. That should give us plenty to talk about this year!
Live every moment. Aloha! Dave
FROM THE MODERATOR - Bill White
In anticipation of our theme for church services this coming year - Right Relationships - I have been thinking about skills required to produce locally grown food for local distribution. That type of farming activity worked well when I was growing up but one wonders how well it may work in Aroostook County in 2010.
One special summer treat is to buy ice cream at the Houlton Farms Dairy Stop. Each time this activity is a delight and just think how the major ingredient, cream, comes from LOCAL cows grazing on the hills in Smyrna. I think back to when I was ten and learned where local milk and cream came from. I want to honor the skill used to produce local milk, so, put down your cell phone, Blackberry, TV remote, or I-Pod and take a trip way-down a lane of memory with me. My grandfather and father taught me how to milk a cow and the number one rule was you had to milk a cow at the same time every twelve hours. From age seven to nine it was the job for my dog "Lucky" and myself to go-get-the-cows from the pasture (later we trained our dog to do that on command.)
I was taught to milk from the same side (the right) of the cow each time and feed the cow just a bit of hay so she was calm. My grandfather had a three-legged stool so I could sit down beside the cow facing the tail with my head leaning gently on her flank. I washed the udder and teats thoroughly with warm soapy water to keep mud or manure from falling into the milk pail. I started with just one teat because my hand got tired and I had to switch to the other hand from time-to-time. I pushed my hand up slightly against the udder and squeezed at the top of the teat gently and firmly with my thumb and forefinger. I closed my other fingers one at a time around the teat just like the sucking action of a calf. Grandfatherly advice was available, "Be sure not to pull the teat!" I released my grip and allowed the teat to refill with milk from the udder. I continued milking until the flow reduced to a trickle and the udder was empty-it was time to switch to another teat. This routine continued until I was done and usually at that time my muscles could barely close my fingers into a fist. It was the praise from my grandfather that allowed me to finish the job.
All our modern gadgets and gizmos have helped isolate me from those vital skills that were commonplace for my ancestors and handed down through countless generations. These skills provide a link to my past and the bridge to my future. I admit this expertise is all but forgotten now.
At the beginning of last century, most food was grown and distributed locally. For me (in the 1940's and 1950's) this translated into eating meals produced on our farm and of course we purchased some items from local sources. Our meals consisted mostly of meat, potatoes, and gravy (so the "county" saying goes.) Variety was added from all the canning my mother did each year. More exotic foods from outside Aroostook County were infrequent. For contrast, in 2000 just 20 multinational corporations dominated the food trade business. Next time you go to the grocery store cruise up and down the aisles with your grocery cart and carefully note the origin of the food. This will convince you that food is no longer locally grown.
In spite of the current domination of multinational food distribution-well over half the population in poor countries is still in farming families. That means even today the most effective way to feed the majority of the world's poor is to ensure that small farmers have good access to thriving local markets, and that these farmers are not forced off the land by multinational farming corporations. It is rather sad to know the expertise required to produce locally grown food is now all but forgotten. Count yourself a keeper of "old knowledge" if you have your own vegetable plot (even if is one tomato plant) growing in your backyard or with the flowers at the front. The most productive land today is the vegetable garden of an enthusiast who feeds the family and gives or sells to neighbors. You can use your vegetable plot for a great variety of produce and maintain its fertility often with just kitchen waste. Give yourself a "GREEN STAR" for keeping old skills alive.
I wish you a fruitful church year of searching and offer a poem of praise from Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179.)
I …the fiery light of divine wisdom.
BOOK DISCUSSION GROUP
As part of our year long theme exploring "right relationship" Keith Helmuth will be leading a 5 part book discussion group on "Right Relationship; Building a Whole Earth Economy." The group will meet on Monday Evenings from 6-8PM. Please check the calendar for details. Books will be available for purchase. ( $17US or $20CDN)
Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy
Right Relationship offers a new way of thinking about the economy. It starts from first principles about what makes a good life and a good Earth. It starts from the reality that the human economy is a part of Earth's larger economy and must operate within the limits of Earth's ecosystem.
Our current economic system - which assumes endless growth - flies in the face of the fact that Earth's resources are finite. The result is increasing destruction of the natural world and growing, sometimes lethal, tension between rich and poor, global north and south. We need a comprehensive new vision of an economy that can serve people and the entire commonwealth life.
This new book advances the core principle of "right relationship" as the foundation for a new economic model. Based on Aldo Leopold's land ethic, "right relationship" is defined as follows: A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, resilience, and beauty of the commonwealth of life. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. Right Relationship poses five basic questions: What is the economy for? How does it work? How big should it be, or how big is too big? What's fair? How should the economy be governed?
Right Relationship first lays out the antiquated, shortsighted, and dangerous assumptions that underlie our current answers to these questions, as well as the shortcomings of many reform efforts. It proposes new answers that combine an acute awareness of ecological limits with a fundamental focus on fairness and concern for the spiritual as well as the material well-being of the human race.
Right Relationship is an integration of science, economics, ethics, and religious and cultural traditions, leading to a new understanding of how economies should develop and be governed. It concludes with a social movement action plan for bringing the economy in line with Earth's ecology in a way that will serve the well being of all life.
Building a whole Earth economy means moving from unlimited growth to producing only as much wealth as is needed for secure and dignified living. It means learning to live from the continuously renewed abundance of Earth. A whole earth economy is keyed to the resources of local and regional ecosystems, and to the shared abundance of Earth's ecosystem as a whole. This vision of a whole earth economy does not see a depression of economic activity, but rather a radical change that will advance all the productive, provisioning, service, and trading activities that create and support the integrity, resilience, and beauty of life's commonwealth.
Right Relationship is a publication of the Moral Economy Project of Quaker Institute for the Future.
THE MINDFUL MINUTE
Mindful Minute #33 - Even in a chaotic environment, choose to stay connected to your breath to keep you in the present moment.
FROM THE CHURCH CHECKBOOK
Greetings! I have been missing your gifts through the summer and welcome the eagerly anticipated autumn infusion of funds. If you have any checks to send before the first service in September, please mail to Sue Glick, Treasurer, 652 Back Ridge Rd., Littleton, ME 04730
LOANS OF PISHKA FUNDS TO KIVA ENTREPENEURS
In February of 2008 our social action group decided to loan $25 of our pishka funds to some entrepreneur via the Kiva microfinance website. The Kaksija li Group was chosen as the first recipient. It is a group of women in Guatemala engaged in weaving and traditional artisan crafts. http://www.kiva.org/app.php?page=businesses&action=about&id=38059. The loan was recently repaid in full and our $25 was free to lend again.
Our newly chosen recipient is La Reina 3 Group which consists of 5 women in the Dominican Republic who sell used clothing. http://www.kiva.org/app.php?page=businesses&action=about&id=132380 They will begin to make payments in November.
QUILT RAFFLE FUNDRAISER
Right at the end of our church year, a queen size quilt, made by Leigh Griffith and quilted by Lois Morin, was given to the church to use as a fund raiser. In late June we began selling raffle tickets with the intent of choosing the winner at the end of next year's Fourth of July celebration.
So far, the raffle has brought in $395.61. The reason for the odd numbers is that in addition to buying tickets in person, folks can also buy raffle tickets online using Paypal. ( Go to http://burbank.mfx.net/~griffith/Leigh/church.htm ) Paypal takes a small percentage (thus the odd numbers), but makes it possible to reach people who might never come to Houlton! So far, the most distant purchaser of raffle tickets is from Tasmania!
The tickets are $1.00 each or a book of 6 for $5.00. Online they are only available by the book. If you would like to buy some tickets before ingathering, you can use the US Mail and send a check to the church, made out to the Unitarian Society of Houlton. You can also go online and purchase your tickets with your PayPal account. http://burbank.mfx.net/~griffith/Leigh/church.htm
To add interest to the activity, we have a challenge from Ann Rhinelander to see how many will match the number of tickets she has purchased so far! She spent $100 on tickets (receiving 120 chances of winning)! She really wants that quilt! Like Ann, you can increase your chances of winning by buying more tickets. We are also offering the "Book of the Month Club" in which, from now until July, 2010, you can purchase one or more books of tickets each month!
Join in the fun! Help the church! The winner will be kept extra specially warm when winter comes in 2010! See you at ingathering!
Please click here for the currently scheduled services and events.
BASEMENT WiFi CAFÉ PROJECT
Work continues on the café project during the summer. Ray Pelletier has been hard at work painting the wifi cafe space. He tells us that the outside wall is very damp this summer and notes that the paint has run some. Members should drop in and see all his hard work. He is approaching a second coat and hopes to have all the painting done on the walls by the time David gets back--maybe the ceilings too. Thanks, Ray, for all your time and talent!
E-MAIL/INTERNET DISCUSSION LIST: UU HOULTON COMMUNITY
An email discussion mailing list is a tool for a group of people to exchange messages via email. Any subscriber to the list can send messages that are received by all the subscribers, creating an email-based group conversation. The UU Houlton Community Yahoo Group has been created for members and friends of the Unitarian Society of Houlton. So far we have 14 people subscribed. There are a number of photos posted. Any member can visit the group's page and view them and any member can add their own. Please take a look at the webpage. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/uuhoultoncommunity/ If you'd find it useful and wish to join just click the "Join This Group" button, or contact Rev. Dave if you have questions or need further instructions.
OTHER UU ONLINE RESOURCES