Rev. David Hutchinson, Minister, 446-6858
John Lloyd, Moderator, 532-2525
Treasurer, Mary Blocher, 521-5253
Fred Griffith, Clerk, 538-6175
Karen Klahr, Newsletter, 532-4051
Church Phone, 532-9269
Committee on Ministry,
Roger Morin, Sylvia Williams

Newsletter - December 2016

Unitarian Universalist
Church of Houlton

61 Military St.
Houlton, ME 04730

Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature…   Walden

In this cold, clear, rough air from the north-west we walk amid what simple surroundings. Surrounded by our thoughts or imaginary objects, living in our ideas, not one in a million ever sees the objects which are actually around him. We have a habit of looking away and we see not what is around us. How few are aware that in winter, when the earth is covered with snow and ice, the phenomenon of the sunset sky is double. The one is on the earth around us, the other in the horizon. The winter is coming when I shall walk the sky. The ice is a solid sky on which we walk. It is the inverted year. There is an annual light in the darkness of the winter night. The shadows are blue, as the sky is forever blue. In winter we are purified and translated. The earth does not absorb our thoughts. It becomes Valhalla (the halls of the gods)…thus all of heaven is realized on earth.   Thoreau's Journal 1860

The cold, clear air has arrived as I walk around Houlton with my coat collar turned up and sturdy boots underfoot. It seems no matter how long you have lived in a northern town you still notice the first time the thermometer hits single digits. And as busy as we all are these days sometimes it's something as basic as notable weather that pulls us out of our thoughts and places us in the simple environment of the moment.

Thoreau and the transcendentalists found in nature a philosophic model for leading a spiritual life. Through observation and intimate involvement with the natural world insight and development of human capacity emerge. The simple act of looking at the cold winter sky contains a profound depth. When you ski across a snow laden field on an overcast afternoon the winter sky and the snow ground are one texture and color. Sky and ground become one thing with you skiing in it. Thoreau challenges us to spend one day as deliberately as Nature. What if you took this not as a one time task but as a daily discipline in the new year? What would that look like for you? How would it apply to your personal circumstances? How would it relate to the current political unease and societal challenges? Perhaps nature itself can provide a model that leads us toward calm stability, a long view and a more natural way to experience our human embodiment. This is our brief moment on this marvelous, yet frightful planet. I look forward to sharing our continuing adventure together in the new year.

Love and compassion to all.   Dave

"church sign" - photo by revdav
Church Sign - photo by revdav

Early Snow

According to the Farmer's Almanac
early December is expected to be colder than normal
in the northeast with snows arriving mid-month.
While my wife swears by the almanac
I tend to remain a day-to-day pragmatist
and just take what comes.
This year the snows came even earlier
than the aforementioned forecasters predicted;
the unfinished chores dormant under a layer
of white insulation, an early closure
to the listing of noble ambitions.

Dave Hutchinson

2016 has been an exciting year here at our Houlton Unitarian Universalist Church. For one thing, our church has doubled in size (acreage) with the addition of a new full size parking lot. We have had our eye on the lot next door to us on Kelleran St. for the last two years as the old house on this big lot has been torn down. Having our very own parking lot with easy access to our handicap ramp and room for all of us off the street was very attractive. However, there was a great deal of uncertainty as to how we could afford it. Then we were blessed with a miracle when the Putman Foundation and the Congregational Church gave us grants covering the entire purchase price. I know this is Maine and we need to conduct ourselves with proper decorum but I can’t help myself. I am excited! I feel an upsurge of positive energy here in our church. I feel this energy coming not just from the blessing of a new parking lot but also from many of our members who are stepping up to contribute their time and energy to our programs and projects. Many of our newer members are taking positions of increased responsibility and/or just showing up to pitch in when needed.

It is my fondest hope that we can use this new energy to continue and strengthen this positive trend. We are a beloved community and by reaching out to others with help and friendship we generate more positive energy for all of us. Let us not be afraid to step forward and help where we can and ask for help when we need it. Life is uncertain but this need not be a problem because it is also an adventure.

Thanks for the great year.   See you soon.   John Lloyd

The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer   TED Book (2014)
As a companion to our Monday Evening Conversation “An Evening with Pico Iyer,” we would like to recommend his TED Book The Art of Stillness which expands his ideas on adapting inner quiet while living in a world of constant clamor and chatter. The book is a scant 73 pages and can be easily read in one sitting, but the content and pacing of the material beckons us to explore our own inner spaces, a process that is truly timeless and endless. It’s quick read that (if you’re not careful) could change the rest of life. The book will be available in the Unitarian Society lending library beginning in January.

Pico Iyer has spent more than 30 years tracking movement and stillness — and the way crisscrossing cultures have changed the world, our imagination and all our relationships.

“As a guide to far-flung places, Pico Iyer can hardly be surpassed.”The New Yorker

In twelve books, covering everything from Islamic mysticism to our lives in airports, Pico Iyer has worked to chronicle the accelerating changes in our outer world, which sometimes make steadiness and rootedness in our inner world more urgent than ever. In his TED Book, The Art of Stillness, he draws upon his travels to remind us how to remain focused and sane in an age of frenzied distraction. As he writes in the book, "Almost everybody I know has this sense of overdosing on information and getting dizzy living at post-human speeds ... All of us instinctively feel that something inside us is crying out for more spaciousness and stillness to offset the exhilarations of this movement and the fun and diversion of the modern world.” The Art of Stillness paints a picture of why so many—from Marcel Proust to Mahatma Gandhi to Emily Dickinson—have found richness in stillness. Ultimately, Iyer shows that, in this age of constant movement and connectedness, perhaps staying in one place is a more exciting prospect, and a greater necessity than ever before.

TED Books are small books about big ideas. They’re short enough to read in a single sitting but long enough to delve deep into a topic. Each TED Book is paired with a related TED Talk, available online at The book picks up where the talks leave off. An 18-minute speech can plant a seed or spark the imagination, but many talks create a need to go deeper, to learn more, to tell a longer story. TED Books fills this need.

One of our UU covenants affirms to promote world community with peace, liberty and justice for all. On November 15th several members from our church promoted this covenant by taking a stand with Standing Rock in a peaceful protest against DAPL. DAPL is the Dakota Access Pipe Line proposed carry oil across the nation 1,500 miles from Canada to Chicago. At present the pipeline has been stopped at the Lakota Sioux Reservation of Standing Rock.

Indigenous people have led peaceful protests for many months to stop this pipeline from further progress. Originally the pipeline was slated to run through Bismark, ND. However, it was decided that placing a pipeline through a highly populated area was not safe. DAPL then decided to build the pipeline close to the Standing Rock Reservation. They wanted to bulldoze through sacred burial sites and then place the pipeline under the Missouri River. This would not only be unsafe for the Lakota, but also one third of our agricultural land in America.

Peaceful protests have been held in North Dakota where over 300 tribes of Native Americans have assembled to stand in unified solidarity. Many other supporters, including clergy from UU and other interfaith groups from around the world, have traveled to Standing Rock to voice their concerns with the issue of the pipeline. Even though the people and water protectors are holding peaceful protests with prayers and sacred songs, they have been brutalized with military tactics by law enforcement officials in North Dakota. Many people have been arrested and placed in jail.

On November 15th an organized world wide protest to the Army Corp of Engineers took place. The people wanted them to take another look at the lack of an Environmental Impact Statement being in place by DAPL. With the large number of protests around the world, and on their very doorsteps, the Army Corp of Engineers agreed that they would take a few weeks to see if an impact statement would be justified.

On December 4th our UU congregation dedicated the Sunday service by joining in a global synchronized prayer with other interfaith leaders from around the world, led by Chief Arvol Looking Horse. What a joyous occasion it was when later that same day it was announced that an Environmental Impact Statement would have to be provided before further movement could be made on the pipeline.

For myself, as a member of our UU congregation, I felt so much gratitude for belonging to a community that fully supports social justice. I was proud how we stood together for Standing Rock. Passion filled, I wrote this poem for Standing Rock.

STANDING ROCK by Mary Blocher

We stood today with Natives from Standing Rock.
We stood in prayer so that DAPL would be blocked.
Many other people around the world stood with us on this day.
Across the globe people cried out for justice and sang and prayed.
All colors and creeds came together in harmony in a rainbow hue.
They all believed in justice and in what was the right thing to do.
Prayers have been answered time and time again.
DAPL has been stopped and perhaps our hearts can mend.
“Water is life” is what we pledge and continually say.
So we will stand once again if we are needed on another day.

Pico Iyer February 13, 2017 6-8PM "An Evening with Pico Iyer" - TED Talks

TED Talks have become one of the best outlets for ideas, entrepreneurial ventures and visionary thinking. In a fifteen to twenty minute talk a concept is packaged and delivered to an anticipatory audience. Writer and philosopher Pico Iyer has presented several popular TED Talks and for our Monday Evening Conversation session we plan to show three of them and discuss his concepts. In these talks Iyer explores the relationship between home and travel, busyness and stillness, the solid and the ephemeral. Light refreshments will be provided.

Pico Iyer, (born 1957) is a British-born essayist and novelist of Indian origin, best known for his travel writing. He is the author of numerous books on crossing cultures including Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk and The Global Soul. An essayist for Time since 1986, he also publishes regularly in Harper's, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, and many other publications.

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