Rev. David Hutchinson, Minister, 446-6858
Fred Griffith, Moderator, 538-6175
  Elizabeth Peltier, 538-1663
  Betty White, 521-0015
Lynn Dillon, Clerk, 521-5260
Karen Klahr, Newsletter, 532-4051
Church Phone, 532-9269
Committee on Ministry,
Debra Frazier, Larry Tonzi, Sylvia Williams

Newsletter - December 2013

First Church of Houlton
Unitarian Universalist

61 Military St.
Houlton, ME 04730


“You have everything you need right now in order to be who you want to be.”

                - revdav

Sometimes we're left wondering if we really have what it takes to make it out there in a competitive world. The speed of everyday life and the expectations of others, ourself and our culture only exacerbate the issue. But what if we could sit back, take a minute and reflect on what we already have right now. All too often we shortchange ourselves into thinking we are years away from acquiring or achieving the things that will make our life successful. Yet, the interior resources required for such a life are already present and accessible to all of us.

When we take a personal inventory we notice that certain innate qualities are shared by each of us without exception. Traits such as love, integrity, joy, and basic intelligence may be obvious examples but should never be underestimated as to their value. These are basic qualities that make the pursuit and accomplishment of our dreams possible. You have everything you need right now in order to be who you want to be. As you start the new year consider what it will take for you to be who you want to be. Only you know what that might look like, but a good first step is recognition that you already have what it takes to be successful even before you start. There may be the occasional setback along the way, but when that occurs (and it will!) you simply return to your own self awareness of your innate abilities. You already have what it takes to make it work. You may have to remind yourself again and again, but eventually you begin to become convinced of your own irrepressible brilliance.

Live well in the new year.         Dave

In early January of 1998, the northeastern United States, along with the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec and parts of New Brunswick were hit by a massive ice storm. This storm triggered extensive power outages across the impacted region, collapsing power lines and supporting structures from ice accumulation, and causing over 5 million people to lose power.

At that time, Leigh and I were living in a small town in central Maine, along the fringes of the affected area. Like millions of others, we lost power to our home, though at the time we had no idea how large of a region was affected. Luckily for us, we heated our house mostly with wood so we were not in danger of freezing like so many others. Lighting was another story, however.

Here we were, less than two weeks after the winter solstice; with very short days and long dark nights, and we had no electricity. Generators could not be found for love or money. Luckily for us, however, we had a lot of candles, and a lot of candleholders. You can see some of these each year when we host the Winter Solstice celebration at the church.

It seems as though at every Winter Solstice celebration, we try to remind the participants of our connection to humanities past. When would be a better time to think of and honor our ancestors who lived when the human race was fully dependent upon the weather, the crops, and the seasons?

During the great ice storm of 1998, Leigh and I had the opportunity to experience in part, what it would have been like when humans lived in harmony with the environment, or died. We had no TV, no computers, no telephone, and no electrically fired heaters or furnaces. If we wanted light, we had to light a candle. If we wanted heat, we had to bring in dried firewood prepared months ahead of time. If we wanted water, we had to go out and break the ice, and bring it in to melt in buckets on the wood stove.

Reverting to such a life, in evenings around the fire, we would gather in the firelight and candle light to knit or crochet, to whittle, to make music, to tell stories of our past, and to be one with our family. In the past, whole communities or tribes would do this, not just for a few days until power was restored, but throughout the entire winter. Such gatherings built community and caring for each other.

These days, such gatherings are no longer commonplace. They must be contrived just to give one a sense of what it was like; a sense of our roots, a sense of how our lives are connected, not just with one another, but with the earth which sustains us. When we gather for church services, coffee house, book discussions, meditations, potluck meals and such, we are building our community of caring for each other, and the larger communities of which we are a part.

This is a major part of what our church is: a community of individuals who come together to care for one another. We share what is important in our lives; our joys, our sorrows. We learn from each other. We share the spiritual truths that speak to our hearts and support each other as each of us follow the unique spiritual paths laid out for us by our higher powers.

Like sailors upon a boat at sea, we share in our activities and the chores needed to keep our ship afloat. Each contributes as best as he or she can, and none may ask more than that.

Be blessed in this winter holiday season and throughout the year.

Wednesday, January 1   Meditation at 8am   Brunch at 9:30
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), chanting, 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 to join us for the mindful eating and drinking coffee practice that follows the meditation session. You do not have to attend the meditation session in order to join us for Brunch. Brunch will be served at approximately 9:30AM. All are welcome.
POETRY CORNER 2 poems by Kimberly Pratt

The Southern November sky
is my sky.
Black, naked trees set
a backdrop of melancholy grey.
Color of damp
grass in cold air that
somehow muffles the hurt
of the impending doom
of winter.
Summer’s warm, sweet
bliss is now
a waning memory
while a new
sweet sadness
collects itself.


The grey stone walled church in the village
was where my mother went to worship.
The rest of the village inhabitants went
to the new Baptist church with the young
Pastor. If I had to go to church, why couldn’t
we go to the newer, cooler one?
Because we aren’t Baptist.
So there in the churchyard, with the bland
flavor of Christ’s body and the acid of
His blood still fresh on my tongue,
the slanted headstones jutting from
damp earth one early spring day as
a mist of rain sprinkled my face, and
made the greens greener and
the browns browner, I saw the Vicar moving as though
already an almost ghost in his black cassock
like a walking skeleton and I understood
mortality and I understood death in that one
moment. He moved softly with deliberation and
I was invisible for a minute as I watched.

January 27 - "A Evening with Jon Kabat-Zinn"   (Video Presentation)
Our theme for this year is about change and transitions and how we navigate those adjustments in our lives. One of the featured books we are using for our study is Jon Kabat-Zinn's classic "Wherever You Go, There You Are." Our first Monday Evening Conversation is a lecture delivered by Jon Kabat-Zinn in London on May 28, 2013 as part of "An Action For Happiness" event. A Q&A session follows the talk. Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, is internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. He is professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and author of numerous books, including Full Catastrophe Living, Arriving at Your Own Door, and Coming to Our Senses.
February 24 - ""Fierce Grace"   The Life of Ram Dass   DVD
One of our other featured books this year is Ram Dass' latest release "Polishing The Mirror; How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart." It summarizes his life and teachings from early days of drug research and philosophical experimentation to aging hippie. His humor and casual wisdom are bonus tracks from a life well lived. The 2002 film "Fierce Grace" chronicles his life and the major adjustments required after his stroke in 1997. See film info below:

Harvard professors Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary made countercultural history in 1963 when they were fired from that institution for conducting controversial psychedelic drug research. In the purple haze aftermath, Alpert journeyed to India and found his guru Maharaj ji, who renamed him Ram Dass ("Servant of God"). Best known for his 1971 bestseller BE HERE NOW, which was a spiritual touchstone of the era, Ram Dass became an inspiration to people across the globe. Filmmaker Mickey Lemle--who has known his subject for more than twenty-five years--intersperses vivid archival footage from hippiedom's glory days with intimate glimpses of Ram Dass today, as he continues to remake his life since being--in his words--"stroked" in 1997. Named by NEWSWEEK as one of the Top Five Non-Fiction Films of 2002, RAM DASS FIERCE GRACE is an engrossing, poignant meditation on spirituality, consciousness, healing and the unexpected grace of aging.

Please click here for the currently scheduled events.

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.   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.
  • The website of the Unitarian Universalist Association
  • The website of the Northern New England District (NNED)
  • The UUWorld magazine   (You can also sign up for a weekly email update.)