When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty. - John Muir, Travels in Alaska (1915)
As I was going through my father's collection of 35mm slides, I came across this shot that he took in February, 1949. Anyone who's lived around here for very long has inevitably heard the phrase, "The winter's aren't as bad as they used to be. I remember when the snow banks almost touched the telephone wires…" The banks aren't quite that high in this picture, but you get the idea! My dad said he was standing in the middle of US Route 1 when he took this shot. Fortunately, it appears to be a slow one-lane traffic day!!
Living in this boreal north country environment we brace ourselves for the worst that winter can dish out. The severity and unpredictability of a northern New England winter gives us something to talk about as we go about our daily business. But after watching the Al Gore film, "An Inconvenient Truth," you have to wonder how much longer this may hold true. I'm not going to sell my cross country skis just yet, but the 44" of snowfall we had last winter is a concern. That is the lowest amount on record since at least 1900. (That's as far back as my data goes.)
Our eco-ball has been spinning and flying through the galaxy for over fifty years since my dad took this picture, and no matter what changes may have occurred in American automobile design or in our climate, what hasn't changed is the boundless infinitude of being. When I look overhead into the night sky, the same intelligence, energy fields and quantum material out there is the same material as my consciousness itself. John Muir described this as watching the world and seeing it all "shining together as one." Shoveling the sidewalk, cooking breakfast for the family or picking up groceries at the local supermarket are all expressions of the infinite taking form in our everyday "storm of beauty." What emerges from our boundless infinitude of being is the basic capacity to love. As we enter the new year, (no matter how much snow we end up getting), may we live and love with consistent vigor.
In Ministry, Dave
The end of the calendar year offers time for looking back and reflection. We really have come a long way Baby and yet we are the same. We began the year looking for new ways to grow organizationally, personally and spiritually. We began by acknowledging how we felt, anxious, overwhelmed, time pressed, time stressed, inadequate --- but hopeful. Every year is a do-over. We get to change. So we went forward with a new model for the board, the minister and the congregation. That new model took form and shape slowly with long, sometimes rambling conversations between the minister and moderator. By August, we had a visual model. It was a three legged stool. O.K. I didn't say it was a sexy model or even a spiritually inspiring model, just simple and solid. But, like us this model is always seeking balance. The three legs of the stool are our minister, our board of trustees and our committee on ministry. On this balanced model rest our beloved community, our congregation, all of you, all of us. The whole board and committee on ministry carefully examined our model during our summer retreat. More questions, suggestions and additions made our three legged stool more substantial with each leg more clearly defined. Still not sexy but more firmly balanced. During late fall, we took our model for a test drive. The board handed off a question, a request for clarification to the committee on ministry. The minister presented our concerns to the C.O.M. and reported back to the board on the findings and suggestions of the C.O.M. It felt good. Our model may not look like a Cadillac but she sure drives like one! The last board meeting of the year found us gasping with laughter and over-stuffed garlic pizza. The last piece of our model has yet to play out. That will happen in winter 2007, when the 'top of the stool' the crown of our model, our congregation gives feed-back to our supporting model. You have a role, an important role in the democracy of our congregation. Your questions, concerns and suggestions will continue to drive our model. We end the year as we began --- seeking balance. In Gratitude, Ann
SUCCESSFUL FALL FUNDRAISING EVENTS
In October we once again gathered in the basement for our annual Harvest Potluck/Silent Auction. It seems that every year the food gets more exciting and the items for auction more plentiful. Many generous donations were made, and we were inspired to put some up for bid rather than chance. This new dimension proved more exciting for some than the anticipation of seeing if their name would be drawn from the cup. Elizabeth was of great assistance to her mother with the drawing of the tickets (drawing her own name quite a few times). In the luck of the draw Gwyd and Cricket had a good day, Pat won the wonderful mittens she wanted so badly, and David walked away with a years supply of caramel. We cannot ignore the big winner of the day, Larry T. He walked away with more items than anyone else. The best news to share is that we once again more than doubled our earnings bringing in $185 for the church. Truly a fun and valuable fund raiser for the year.
November 11th was a very popular day for benefit suppers and concerts in the town of Houlton, but we still managed to draw an enthusiatic crowd to see The Katahdin Valley Boys. Our latest installment in the Unitarian Concert Series was another success. With wonderful harmonies and toe tapping bluegrass your body just couldn't stand still. They were a great group of guys and we thank them for traveling all that way. A huge thank you to our sound man John Pasquerelli and his lovely assistant Tanya. Many area businesses donated food and drink thanks to the efforts of our devoted LT. And always creative in their efforts we thank the Uni-chefs for all the goodies. From ticket sales and refreshments we made $523.50. Most importantly we brought a wonderful evening of music to Houlton.
PLEDGE DRIVE WRAP-UP 2006
Thank you, Thank you, and Thank you. Our 2006 pledge committee has completed the campaign which began the last Sunday in October. Pledges and donations total more than $16,000.00. We are so humbled by the support of our members and generosity of our friends and former members. We try each year to raise the part-time salary and expenses of our minister and general operating expenses of our congregation. Your contributions support our work to sustain and build Community.
In Gratitude, your pledge committee, Addie Boyett, Ann Rheinlander, Susan Glick and Bill White
MONDAY EVENING CONVERSATIONS
This winter we are looking at our interconnected world. How do we make sense of our diverse political, religious and personal viewpoints in a world of 5 billion people?! In our first two sessions we will view the recently released film, ONE...The Movie, and discuss several of its "Twenty Questions" that were part of the project. What is "oneness" anyway?! Come and find out! The other two sessions will revisit the Al Gore film we screened this Fall, An Inconvenient Truth. Al Gore appeared on the Oprah Show this month and we have a copy we're going to show and follow up with some discussion. Everything is connected to everything. Please check our calendar listings for time and dates. Here is a short discription of the film as it appears on the DVD jacket. For more information check out the website at www.onethemovie.com
WELCOMING CONGREGATION PROGRAM
This past year as a congregation we decided to implement the "Welcoming Congregation Program" and this fall we held our first workshop after the 10 AM service. This workshop was our first intentional step in the program that seeks to dismantle homophobia and heterosexism as it exists in our society today. The information we learn during these sessions will provide guidance for each of us in ending oppression as well as stopping the discrimination. Our goal is to make "sexual orientation" a non-issue for our congregation. We are planning a total of four workshops (We've already had workshop #1). The workshops will be incorporated into our regular Sunday service at 10 A.M. hoping to make it accessible to as many people as possible. Co-presenters and special speakers will be an integral part of the overall program as well as films and discussion groups. A committee consisting of the minister (David Hutchinson), moderator (Ann Rheinlander), a member representing the congregation (Flora Powell), and two board members (Leigh Griffith and Bill White) are working on the format, content, and dates of the remaining workshops.
WINTER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION
On December 21st we will, once again, celebrate the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. We will begin with drumming at 6 pm in the sanctuary followed by our ceremony at 7 pm in the parlor. As we celebrate the Solstice we will join across time and space all the festivals of light emerging from the dark. As we kindle our candles, we will join all the Yule fires, all the Hanukkah candles, and all the Christmas lights the world over - to brighten the darkness of winter, and the darkness and despair in the world. Refreshments will be served in the basement afterwards. All are welcome.
NEW YEARS DAY MEDITATION AND BRUNCH
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 lasts for about one hour. It is conducted in the Zen Buddhist tradition and consists of two periods of sitting meditation (zazen), walking meditation (kinhin), a short dharma talk by our minister and the ceremonial sounding of the Hahn to ring in the new year. Bring along a cushion and mat or you can sit on one of the couches or a chair. No previous experience in meditation is necessary. (brief instruction will be included!!) It is a great way to quietly honor entering a new year. For those of you more interested in the brunch, there is talk of assorted home made pancakes, local maple syrup and plenty of strong coffee. Please join us.
Click here for the current calendar.