“Essence, or God, is not a relation or a part, but the whole. Being is the vast affirmative, excluding negation, self-balanced, and swallowing up all relations, parts and time within itself. Nature, truth, virtue, are the influx from [the source]…There is no excess to love, none to knowledge, none to beauty, when these attributes are considered in their purest sense. The soul refuses limits, and always affirms an Optimism, never a Pessimism.” - Emerson from his essay “Compensation”
In our two hundred year history as a religious organization in the town of Houlton we have used several names to identify ourselves as a community of faith. In the process of designing a new sign for our front lawn we suddenly realized we needed to decide “What name are we going to use on our sign?” This led our congregation through an interesting quest into our history and a visioning of our future. In the end we decided upon the name Unitarian Universalist Church of Houlton reflecting our historic roots to both religious traditions and, interestingly enough, the smaller hanging sign of the First Congregational Church continues our long running relationship with the Congregationalists now in its latest expression.
As the stonework of the sign base is an aesthetic extension of the church’s rock foundation, so are we a reflection of the values and aspirations of our religious community as we strive to model that in our town and our society. And when times are volatile or uncertain, the expression of these truths is even more essential. When I read the news of late it is difficult to maintain composure and a clear perspective. Our world is facing crisis on multiple fronts and no one is immune from its effects. The shrill nature of editorials, the media and conversations around the water cooler are indications of unease and bewilderment. No one really knows what is coming next.
Emerson speaks of a large sense of Being that remains balanced and optimistic even in the most challenging of circumstances. This core is what holds together even when everything else is falling apart. If there is one thing that we need as we move forward in the new year, it is love to excess. Give it all you have. Love large. Love and then love again. You don’t have to worry. There is no danger of over doing it. Love to excess.
Live well in the new year! Dave
POETRY Quietude by Dave Hutchinson
In the quiet there is a still space that will hold your deepest fear, anxiety and confusion.
Lately I've been thinking a lot about the things that I am thankful for. Today, in the single digit weather, I was very thankful for a warm house and a snow blower with a cab. I was also thankful that I was able to rescue our cat from his misadventure in the neighbor's house. Music is another thing I am thankful about. Singing in the church choir on Christmas Eve was a wonderful experience. There is something magic about voices, our historic organ, guitars and candle light in our beautiful sanctuary. The sense of community and belonging, feeling supported and cared about is another wonderful thing. I am so thankful for my brothers and sisters at our church. The ones I see every week and the ones I see at Christmas. My life is much richer for all these things. I hope that your's is too.
Have a great 2016. John
MONDAY EVENING CONVERSATIONS - Session #1
January 25 6-8PM “Awake: The Life of Yogananda” (2015)
Along with favorite quotations, inspirational symbols and a collection of refrigerator magnets I have a photo of Paramahansa Yogananda taped to the side of the black filing cabinet next to my desk. It serves as a magnetic shrine, a tribute to some of my life influences that keeps me going when I come in to the office on a Monday morning to start my week. More than one person has asked me, “Who is the beautiful woman whose picture is on your filing cabinet?” I smile and reply, “That is Paramahansa Yogananda.” In keeping with our theme of “Caring For Our Planet,” this latest documentary about the life of Yogananda chronicles the impact of eastern wisdom and practices coming to the west in the early 20th century. Yogananda arrived in Boston in 1920 to speak at the International Congress of Religious Liberals as India’s delegate. His address to the congress, on "The Science of Religion," was enthusiastically received by the audience. Yogananda's work with scientists, philosophers, world leaders and poets paved the way for an integration of ancient and new in a modern world. The film will be shown the Cup Cafe with light refreshments served.
AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda is an unconventional biography about the Hindu Swami who brought yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s. Paramahansa Yogananda authored the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi, which has sold millions of copies worldwide and is a go-to book for seekers, philosophers and yoga enthusiasts today (apparently, it was the only book that Steve Jobs had on his iPad). By personalizing his own quest for enlightenment and sharing his struggles along the path, Yogananda made ancient Vedic teachings accessible to a modern audience, attracting many followers and inspiring the millions who practice yoga today.
Filmed over three years with the participation of 30 countries around the world, the documentary examines the world of yoga, modern and ancient, east and west and explores why millions today have turned their attention inwards, bucking the limitations of the material world in pursuit of self-realization.
MONDAY EVENING CONVERSATIONS - Session #2
February 29 6-8PM “Ware Lecture; Dr. Cornel West” (2015)
The Ware Lecture is the keynote address given at the Unitarian Universalist Association’s annual national convention. Previous Ware lecturers have included Martin Luther King Jr., May Sarton, Norman Lear, Mary Oliver and Karen Armstrong. This year’s lecture was delivered by Dr. Cornel West, a prominent theologian and social activist currently on faculty at Union Theological Seminary. His fiery message and rhetoric challenged the convention to work hard now for change and the betterment of our democracy and the world. The one hour address will be followed with discussion and refreshments in the cafe.
Dr. Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. He is a Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris. Cornel West graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton. He has written over 20 books including the best selling, “Race Matters” and “Democracy Matters.” He has recently been deeply involved in the Black Lives Matter protests and was among those arrested in Ferguson in 2015. Cornel West has a passion to communicate in writings and orations, through music and film, and in solidarity with groups and faith communities committed to justice in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.—a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice. Cornel West appears frequently on Real Time with Bill Maher, The Colbert Report, CNN and C-SPAN.
The Houlton International Drum Circle meets Monday on the last Saturday of the month at 6:00 pm Eastern. This is a no stress event with emphasis on having fun. New drummers, seasoned drummers, old and young drummers are welcome. This is a "free style" drum circle with simple start-off heart beats that anyone can follow (the minimum requirement is the ability to count to 4). After you feel comfortable with the heart beat you may embellish if you feel inspired or just "hold the beat"ť for others to improvise on. Every song is unique and a great opportunity to enjoy one of our most primal instincts – group rhythm. Grab a friennd and come join us. As always drums and other fun percussion instruments will be available.
Please come and join us at 5:30pm in the parlor zendo as we continue our "1st Monday of the month" time-slot. Our group (Sangha) practice consists of 2 twenty minute sittings, a walking meditation (kinhin), and a short reading followed by tea and conversation. No meditation experience is needed. We will start from scratch with some basic instruction and go from there. All traditions are welcome. We have a few extra cushions (zafus) available and meditation benches. Of course the couch works equally as well.
Come join us in the Cup Café where you can watch the month's featured movie on the big screen. There is no admission fee and the popcorn machine is always in action. "Frank's Picks" are films chosen and hosted by our head barista Frank Sullivan.
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 Universalist Church 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