Every morning is a cheerful invitation to make my life an equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself. To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. Henry David Thoreau, Walden
The other morning Linda noticed a couple of holiday ornaments that had been hanging in the kitchen window were conspicuously missing. Although our two cats have established poor reputations of late in regards to household decorations, my wife was looking directly at me with one of those "convinced" looks. Perhaps it had something to do with the camera in her hands. After reviewing evidence of my latest photo shoot, Linda had a pretty good idea where the missing ornaments were and I knew I couldn't blame this one on the cats…
With the arrival of winter comes a certain quietude and spaciousness that slowly infiltrates our being. We may not even be aware of it, but it is there nonetheless. This great silence and innocence is a constant even when our busy schedules and demands are escalating. Fresh fallen snow relaxed on a tree branch or on the front windshield of your car is nature's subtle reminder to return to an equal simplicity of being in this world.
We may feel conflicted when we look at the current state of world affairs or at our own personal life, yet the same great silence is holding it all together. During this stark season of white and cold I encourage you to pursue simplicity, appreciate the warmth of human relations and celebrate with a lavish splash of color.
Into the New Year!! Dave
FROM THE MODERATOR
By choice I do not watch Television so there is no invasion of an uninvited image within the four walls of my home. There is no opportunity for television programs to estrange me from reality or in fact replace reality. For me the phantom encounter of television hinders my touch and embrace or even confrontation with real people. Being a "participant" as opposed to an "onlooker" in the world around me is more my cup of tea.
Church going, including a visit from Reverend Dave, or listening to the recorded services, is an encounter with honest-to-goodness friends. We are in community and so close that we can even touch each other-it is part of the miracle of becoming a church family. When we come together at church functions, or share the spiritual aspects of our church, we experience the reassuring warm touch of a friend, a sharing of comfort and concern, and an opportunity to console the crying and lonely. Advances in science (including television and computers) are blessings to be put in proper perspective and it is clear they are not substitutes for physical or spiritual closeness.
A quick review of the photographs contained in the "2008 Annual Request" brochure shows the spiritual closeness and community in the Houlton Unitarian Universalist Church. The miracle of our church community depends upon the love and support of our members and friends. We offer our delicate appreciation for your continued support and belief in our "real" church community. -Bill White
True Love; A Practice for Awakening the Heart Thich Nhat Hanh
Reviewed by revdav
In this short 104 page book, Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh presents a four step method to aid in our spiritual development. The hard cover edition is affordably priced and is near poetic in its simplicity and eloquence. Master Thay has demonstrated in numerous books that the greatest teachings don't need to be complicated in order to induce change. Even five minutes of practice can affect our state of mind or behavior. If I were to select one book to recommend as a sampling of Thich Nhat Hanh's work, this would be it. No Buddhist background is necessary in order to benefit from it's profound, yet basic insights. I plan to structure my talks this winter around “True Love,” and share readings from the book for service content. We will have several copies in our society library, but you may also be interested in ordering a copy for yourself. In keeping with “The Great Turning” approach we may want to place a bulk order from Amazon and save on shipping. If you are interested just send me an e-mail at email@example.com and I will add you to the list. I will provide more information on ordering during the first talk which is scheduled for January 6th.
Praise for True Love
"Training is needed in order to love properly; and to be able to give happiness and joy, you must practice DEEP LOOKING directed toward the other person you love. Because if you do not understand this person, you cannot love properly. Understanding is the essence of love. If you cannot understand, you cannot love. That is the message of the Buddha." - Thich Nhat Hanh
According to the Farmer's Almanac
WINTER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION
On December 21st we will celebrate the longest night of the year with Winter Solstice festivities. Join us at 6PM for a pot-luck supper in the church basement. Drumming in the sanctuary will start at 7PM. Please bring drums, noise-makers and celebratory accessories. The ceremony follows at 7:30PM. 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. 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 comfortable 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. Some may prefer the mindful eating and drinking coffee practice that follows the meditation session. All are welcome. Please check concerning child care arrangements.
MONDAY EVENING CONVERSATIONS
As part of our “Great Turning” theme we are exploring the role of religion and religious philosophy in the shaping of culture, politics and world views. With improved communication and information systems the 21st century brings an unprecedented opportunity for inter-religious dialogue and study. What criteria does a religion need to meet in order to be relevant and meaningful in our modern world? We will view an Inuit film, a Christian documentary and a two-part series “Peace is Every Step” with Thich Nhat Hanh and Joanna Macy. How does one integrate a multiplicity of religious and spiritual traditions into a distinct, yet cohesive approach? Please check listings in the calendar.
About the DVD "Peace Is Every Step"
Narrated by Ben Kingsley Produced and Directed by Gaetano Kazuo Maida. It was filmed on location in Plum Village, France, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., and at retreats around the U.S. Rare archival footage from Vietnam in the 1960s is included.
Bonus feature: "Touching Peace-An Evening With Thich Nhat Hanh" This 90-minute public talk before an audience of 3500 in Berkeley, California is introduced by author/activist Joanna Macy.
Click here for the current calendar.
NORTHEAST DISTRICT WILL BECOME NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND DISTRICT
On Friday, April 11 and Saturday, April 12, 2008 the inauguration of the Northern New England District of the UUA and its first annual meeting will take place at the New England Center of the University of New Hampshire in Durham. The keynote speaker will be the Rev. Bill Sinkford. Registration materials will be available soon at the church. See the latest Viewpoints for details.
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. Any member can upload photos. The UU Houlton Community Yahoo Group has been created for members and friends of the Unitarian Society of Houlton. So far we only have 8 people subscribed. We do have a number of photos posted. Please visit the webpage if you wish to join http://groups.yahoo.com/group/uuhoultoncommunity/ or contact Rev. Dave if you have questions or need further instructions.
OTHER UU ONLINE RESOURCES