David Hutchinson, Minister, 446-6858
Bruce Glick, Moderator, 538-9264
David Sylvain, Treasurer, 532-6075
Karen Klahr, Newsletter, 532-4051

Newsletter - December 2001

First Church of Houlton,

61 Military St.
Houlton, ME 04730

I would like to express my gratitude for all that we have given one another during the days and months since September 11th. It’s hard to imagine what my life would have been like without the protective love and spirituality of our religious community and Rev. David’s ministry. During the past three months, we have continued the primary work of this society: fostering tolerance and diversity, expanding our circle of concern, and deepening our connections with the mystery and wonder of creation. In the midst of your busy, stressed, and ever-changing lives, you have made church a priority and a place of healing energy. During the new church year, we will be (to paraphrase our Minister Emerita, Rev. Martha Newman) helping each other find coherence and meaning that transforms our vulnerable world into a place we can call "home." I am looking forward to sharing (what have become) our traditional holiday activities with all of you—the Solstice Service, Christmas Eve Service, and New Year’s Day Meditation (and brunch). Everyone, whether a member of the congregation or not, is invited to attend our annual meeting on Sunday, Jan 13, where we will look at where we have come and where we are going as a congregation, review (and hopefully approve) our new budget, express our collective appreciation those who have given their time and effort during the past year, discuss and vote on a new amendment to our bylaws, and install new Officers and Board Members. Also, don’t forget the upcoming, four-part discussion of the Dali Lama’s recent book, Ethics for a New Millennium, which begins in January. The gifts to our church this fall are too numerous to properly thank everyone in such a short message as this so I’ll just mention only a few: Robin’s work on the Library; John’s leadership in constructing the coffeehouse stage extension (and everyone else who helped out); the Hogan’s second soup tasting (the warmth of which still lingers deep inside me); the improvements made by coffeehouse committee; Karen’s production of the newsletter and work on our church website; Mike and Walter’s overseeing the current pledge drive; Jeff’s musical talent during our services, the dedication choir members and their beautiful harmonies; and David Sylvain’s quiet, steady work as our Treasurer. I could go on and on. My best wishes to you all.                   ...Bruce Glick

We have a chalice, stories, crayons, yarn, glue, songs to sing and lessons to learn! We are in need of children! The Children’s Education Program has been gearing up for the past few months and is in place. Our program is based on Human Values of Love, Truth, Non-Violence & Knowledge. Lessons include teachings from Christianity, Islam, Hindu, Native American & other earth-based religions as well as from history and, of course from the UU tradition & principles. Our goal is to provide a safe place for children to explore and question in order to find and strengthen their spiritual path. Through song & voice, creativity with minds & hands and through quiet, still moments, children will begin to learn and trust the voice within them. Presently, class is scheduled for one Sunday a month but as commitment from parents grows we can easily move toward multiple Sundays. Please feel free to share this with parents who might be interested. They can call Linda Rowe at 532-9999 for questions or more information.

On Friday, December 21, 7 p.m., we will hold our annual Winter Solstice service in the parlor. This service is connected to non-Christian, Earth-centered ceremonies that existed in many cultures. Solstice observances—especially those of the Romans--are said to underlie many of the Christmas traditions that are practiced today. Our solstice service recognizes the depth of darkness on the longest night of the year. We then remember the promise held in the return of the light as Earth moves back toward spring, slowly bringing the sun back to us from its position over the Tropic of Capricorn.
Bring drums and water for a water ceremony, and wear colorful clothing to this celebration of the return of the sun. There will be singing, poetry, and movement to honor Earth at this solemn yet hopeful time. See you there!

Once again we will start off the new year with a morning meditation followed by our famous brunch.. The meditation begins at 8 a.m. and is conducted in the Zen Buddhist tradition consisting of sitting meditation (zazen), walking meditation (kinhin), and a short dharma talk by our minister (under 4 minutes!!). Bring along a cushion and mat or you can sit on one of the couches or a chair. No background in meditation is necessary. It is a great way to quietly bring in the new year. Please join us for what's quickly becoming a favorite tradition around here.

Our book discussion group will be meeting bi-weekly on Wednesday nights from 6-8 p.m. during January and February. The book we've selected is Ancient Wisdon, Modern Wisdon: Ethics for the New Millennium by the Dalai Lama. It is available in paperback, published by Abacus, and can be pruchased here at the church in our library. Please speak to our librarian, Robin Mosenfelder, or our moderator, Bruce Glick. Here is and excerpt from the back cover about the book:
At a time and in a culture where science and technology have taken over from religious belief, when ithics are understood primarily in terms of aesthetic choice or legality, how are we to formulate moral principles to guide us in our daily lives? The Dalai Lama believes that there are universal principles we can draw on which transcend the dilemma of belief or unbelief. With wit, gentle good sense and with penetrating insight, he shows how the truths that have stoo the test of generations of practice can provide us with the tools to live happy, fulfilled and meaningful lives, approaching ethics based on universal rather than religious principles.
A section of the book also deals with peace and violence issues, which are so relevant of late. Listed below are the four dates of the sessions.
                  Jan 16       Jan 30       Feb 13       Feb 27
The years each have their designated number,
for easy reference
and the neat filing of memories.
Yet, the continuous blur of time
stretches like a rubber-band of collective experience;
of our ancestors in this town,
of its leaders and its ordinary citizens,
living out their daily plans and livelihood
of the next car payment or illness
interrupted by the events of a political world.
We live our lives in solitude and in the crowd;
in our most private thoughts,
as well as the dialogue of neighbor,
timeless yearnings caught in the calendar of
almost two hundred years in this town,
as I look out my office window…
snow blowing in the park.

Another year is inching towards us. I like to sit and look at my empty date book thinking of the blank potential, but in my mind I know how quickly those open spots will fill in. The years have a funny way of slipping into the next as our schedules wait for no one. I am excited about the year ahead of us here at the Houlton Unitarian Society. This is where I find the intellectual, spiritual and artistic outlets and mutual support that I am looking for. As your minister, I hope that my efforts will continue to help this organization provide the necessary "spiritual atmosphere" that each of us values, as well as to provide a liberal religious voice in our historic town. Live each day on your calendar with meticulous care.

            This is a new feature in our newsletter. We thought it might be interesting to ask Jean a few questions about life in the monastery and find out how enlightened she's become since she left us!! Depending on how this goes, we'll see if this becomes a regular feature or not. (Have your questions ready!!) I asked Jean to give us a little preliminary information on her status at Zen Mountain Monastery:
            Everyone here is treated as if they are a monastic in training. People interested in getting this sort of training usually come into residency for 1 month. At the end of that month they can ask to stay a year. For those of us too poor to pay for a year's stay, we must petition the guardian council and ask for a work scholarship. Most people here are on work scholarship, and it is good training because it essentially makes you a real part of the team and allows you to experience what it is like to be a full time monastic more clearly- since you will be expected to work during breaks and etc. when the need arises. If after a year of residency a person wishes to stay a second year, they must again seek permission to do so. That is where I am right now, in my 2nd year of residency. Residential training at Zen Mt Monastery is intense and pushes one in ways that I never imagined. . The monastics pick up on whatever your edge is real quick and they'll subtly needle you with it until you get over it or through it or drop it. Training here includes zazen, liturgy, face to face teachings, study practice, body practice, work practice, art practice, and precepts practice. In addition, we learn all the service positions. Right now I am learning to be Jikido (time keeper). There are a lot of aspects to this service position - and so I am, of course, making a lot of mistakes- which I really hate. And they know that, so they ensure that I'll be making a lot of mistakes.
After your second year of residency, one can only apply for a 3rd year if they are potentially interested in becoming a monastic. The 3rd year is a year spent living as a monastic and looking at the monastic vows - selflessness, a life of service, stability (which includes agreeing not to have children), simplicity (which includes a vow of poverty), and accomplishing the Buddha's Way (to fully actualize, realize one's life). These vows plus the 16 precepts are what is looked at and considered during one's 3rd year of residency. After the 3rd year, if one is still interested in monasticism, then one must get permission from one's teacher to petition the monastic council. If the monastic council agrees to allow the person to enter the monastic training track, one will then become a postulant. After 1or more years of postulancy, one has to petition to become a novice monk. After novice, one must petition to become a fully ordained monk. The time period between novice and fully ordained can be quite long. To be fully ordained, one must be fully embodying the 5 monastic vows and strongly practicing the 16 precepts. It is a long and involved path, which has proven beneficial in creating strong monastics and strong lay practitioner.
            1. Are you getting tired of sitting yet?
            Ha ha ha ha haaaa! No. Oh there are moments when I think "yeah I'm gonna get up off this zafu and walk out". But then I think it thru a little further- past the monks scolding me , and then I realize where can I walk to? Where really is there to go. I'm creating the whole ball of wax- and I'll still be there creating it no matter if it's in this monastery or some ideal monastery or on a Hawian beach surrounded by scantily dressed fellas. I recently did a week of solitude/zazen in the hermitage up in the woods here. It was a really intense experience. No place to run to. But then, there never is. Oh sure, there are distractions, but all new toys eventually lose our interest and we realize nothing has changed and we're off seeking a new distraction to fill in that hole- that feeling of something lacking.
            2. How would you describe your zazen practice? (This is not a trick question, Jean...)
            Hmmm...... Well,... Hmmm.... Have you read Bankei's Zen? That is an excellent book! Clouds come and go, but the sky remains un-perturbed. Sometimes my zazen is like that. Sometimes lotsa clouds. Sometimes clear skies. Sometimes I forget on purpose and go with the clouds. Oops. Really though, reading about Bankei and reading his teachings has greatly improved my zazen. I highly recommend it .
            3. I have more cute questions, but we're out of space!!

Jean Ennis
P.O. Box 197
Mount Tremper NY 12457

The Moderator of the Board of Trustees is selected yearly by the Trustees after the Annual meeting. On occasion it happens that the current Moderator’s 3 year term as Trustee expires and a new, possibly inexperienced, moderator must take over the leadership. Our proposed changes would allow for the Immediate Past Moderator to remain on the Board as a voting member for one additional year, during which time the newly chosen Moderator and the Immediate Past Moderator would work together with the Board to ensure continuity of leadership. Members of the Society will be asked to vote on this amendment at the Annual Meeting on January 13th.

Greetings of the Season!!! What a blessing this church has with the many and diverse musicians who share their wealth with us all!!! It is really a joy for me to work with you all. We have such a "can do" choir. We may be small in numbers, but not in talent and spirit.
Now we are approaching two great services, Winter Solstice and Christmas Eve, where music is an important ingredient. And, don't forget caroling as a gift to those who may find it difficult to get out.
Please remember that we are practicing Sunday mornings at 9:00 for the Christmas service on Sunday the 16th and Christmas Eve. Time is running out so please try to be at the rehearsals. There will be no rehearsal on Dec. 30, but we will continue on Jan. 6, with the goal of performing once a month until summer.
Again, I ask that you let me know of any special music or musicians you would like to hear on Sundays, or at the monthly Coffeehouse.
Thank you for permitting me to serve you.       ...Nancy

Dec 21 - Winter Solstice service at 7 p.m. in the parlor.
Dec 30 - Sunday Service, Jeff Lovejoy

Jan 1 - New Years Day meditation sitting and brunch 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Jan 6 - Sunday Service, David Hutchinson
Jan 13 - Annual Meeting following a brief service
Jan 16 - Book Discussion: Ethics for a New Millennium by the Dalai Lama, 6-8 p.m. in the Parlor
Jan 19 - Coffeehouse, 7-9 p.m.
Jan 20 - Sunday Service, Ann Rheinlander
Jan 27 - Sunday Service, David Hutchinson
Jan 30 - Book Discussion: Ethics for a New Millennium by the Dalai Lama, 6-8 p.m. in the Parlor

Feb 3 - Sunday Service, with guest speaker, Imelda Perley, Maliseet Linguist & Medicine Woman
Feb 10 - Sunday Service, David Hutchinson
Feb 13 - Book Discussion: Ethics for a New Millennium by the Dalai Lama, 6-8 p.m. in the Parlor
Feb 16 - Coffeehouse, 7-9 p.m.
Feb 17 - Sunday Service, Sarah Lovejoy
Feb 23 - Zen Retreat

Feb 24 - Sunday Service, David Hutchinson
Feb 27 - Book Discussion: Ethics for a New Millennium by the Dalai Lama, 6-8 pm, Parlor

Mar 3 - "Open Pulpit Sunday Service": everyone is invited to bring and share spiritual music, readings, poetry, or other liturgical activities.
Mar 10 - Sunday Service, David Hutchinson
Mar 16 - Coffeehouse, 7-9 p.m.
Mar 17 - Sunday Service, Walter Goodrich
Mar 31 - Sunday Service, Dave Hutchinson

Apr 7 - Sunday Service, Bruce Glick
Apr 13 - Coffeehouse, 7-9 p.m.
Apr 14 - Sunday Service, Dave Hutchinson
Apr 21 - Sunday Service, Sarah Lovejoy
Apr 28 - Sunday Service, David Hutchinson

May 5 - Sunday Service, Linda Rowe
May 12 - Sunday Service, David Hutchinson
May 18 - Coffeehouse, 7-9 p.m.
May 19 - Sunday Service, Jeff Lovejoy
May 26 - Sunday Service, Jere Armen

June 3 - Closing Service, David Hutchinson - Barbeque at the Rheinlander’s after the service
June 16 - Coffeehouse, 7-9 p.m.

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