As Leigh and I began decorating our Yule tree this year, we were looking through all the ornaments we have. Very few are identical. Most of them are handmade, and many of them are items we purchased or made to represent that year in our marriage.
Some of the ornaments were purchased in a Christkindlesmarkt in Germany while I was stationed there in the late 1970's. These reminded me of something our family received from my aunt and uncle (who were stationed in Italy) when I was a small child.
This was a wooden carousel which was turned by the updraft from candles placed around its base. The carousel had multiple levels of tiny angel figurines and each level rotated as the carousel turned.
Of course, it took a while before we got a chance to see it in action, because this was sent to us as a kit in a box! When I was growing up, my parents were not what one would call, "artistic". They were educational professionals who were very committed to their jobs, their family and their church. But in the house, all the walls and ceilings were one color of paint. Unless someone gave them a piece of art, the wall would be bare, and they would have been as satisfied with the picture that comes from the store to display a picture frame, as with a piece of fine art. They were not likely to do a very good job of putting the carousel together.
That job ended up falling to my maternal grandfather; a Methodist minister and Professor of Theology in northern California. My grandfather liked to think that he was a great hand and making things for his grandchildren and felt that this kit shouldn't take more than an afternoon to put together.
With the "help" of my brother, sister and I, he labored over that kit; the instructions of which were all labeled in German. The afternoon stretched into the evening, the next day, and the day after that. Finally after three days, my grandfather thought he had it all together and ready to go.
That evening after dark, my grandfather called us all together at the dining table and showed us how it turned, along with all the levels of angels. Unlike the photo I found to illustrate this, the carousel had little bells that would be hit by something attached to the angels on one level to make them ring as the carousel turned. He then installed the candles in their cups, and lit them; one by one.
The lights had been turned down low so it would be easier to see the glow from the candles. The first one lit and was soon burning brightly; then the second. Nothing was turning. My grandfather was starting to get nervous about it working because he thought that it would turn even with just a couple of candles lit. He continued lighting the candles around the carousel. Soon it began to turn, and by the time he had them all lit, the carousel was turning quickly, the candles had the room well lit, and the bells were ringing loudly; or at least it seemed loud when we were clustered around it at the table. My grandfather took a bow as we applauded his efforts.
As I thought about this carousel, which I honestly had not thought of once in many years, it hit me that the carousel is very similar to our church. The church had to be built and sweated over, all the parts fitting tightly together for it to work properly. The candles are like the members of the church, each glowing by itself, but not able to do much all alone.
When joined together with others of like mind, the glow of the candles, like our spiritual glow is tremendous, and the power generated is enough to keep everything spinning on all levels, the bells ringing, and the angels flying overhead. Our church family clusters around it and enjoys all it has to offer.
May our glow all blend together in this wondrous holiday season. Let us share our time together as family, sharing both our joy and our sorrows. Together, we can make the season great.
GETTING TOGETHER FOR CRAFTS
Members of the Unitarian Crafters Guild have been talking about having get-togethers at the Church for those interested in sharing their crafts or just hanging out while working on their latest projects. As we are in the beginning stage of doing this, we don't yet have a phone or email list of interested parties. If you are interested in joining in please contact Deb at firstname.lastname@example.org . If you know people who might be interested, please let them know and give them the contact information. Also, they can find out what's going on by joining the Unitarian Crafter's Guild yahoo site at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/uucrafters/ or they can join by emailing email@example.com. We are considering meeting in the basement at times when the Cup Cafe is open. Meeting in members' homes is another option. Details to be determined.
MONDAY EVENING CONVERSATIONS - Session #1
"The Fabric of The Cosmos" - January 28 DVD with Physicist Brian Greene
Our theme for this year is “Finding a Meaningful Life; The Infinitude of the Soul.” This exploration has led us to interior landscape as well as exterior. This PBS Nova presentation, The Fabric of The Cosmos, expands that landscape even farther. The realm of quantum physics is always a mind-expander even when you walk away not quite understanding all of what you just heard. Join us for the presentation and conversation.
Physicist Brian Greene, host of the acclaimed series The Elegant Universe, presents The Fabric of the Cosmos--a mind-blowing new exploration of space, time, and the very nature of reality. Discover how our perceptions have fooled us and time may be an illusion; why empty space is not empty; how a hidden realm, where the seemingly impossible is possible, lies just beneath the surface of the everyday world.
MONDAY EVENING CONVERSATIONS - Sessions #2 and #3
"Fully Alive" - February 11 & February 25 Retreat with Pema Chodron on DVD
Pema Chodron, a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Director of Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, is one of the most popular and beloved spiritual teachers today. Her practical advice and gentle spirit communicates whether a person is familiar with Buddhist teachings or not. Here is a brief description of the DVD content.
We live in difficult times. Life sometimes seems like a roiling and turbulent river threatening to drown us. Why, in the face of that, shouldn’t we cling for safety to the certainty of the shore—to our comfortably familiar patterns and habits? Because, Pema Chödrön teaches, that kind of fear-based clinging leads only to even greater suffering.
In this recorded retreat, based on the program Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change held at Omega Institute, Pema Chödrön and her teaching assistant, Meg Wheatley, provide a wealth of wisdom for learning to step right into the river: to be completely, fearlessly present even in the hardest times, the most difficult situations. It’s the secret of being fully alive.
Please click here for the currently scheduled events.
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. We currently have 26 members. 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. After entering your info, remember to click on "save changes" before leaving the page. You can contact Rev. Dave or Karen if you have questions or need further instructions.
OTHER UU ONLINE RESOURCES