After spending four or five days surveying and drawing a plan incessantly, I especially feel the necessity of putting myself in communication with nature again, to recover my tone, to withdraw out of the wearying and (often) unprofitable world of affairs. The things I have been doing have but a fleeting and accidental importance…I would fain have been wading through the woods and fields and conversing with the sane snow. I wish again to participate in the serenity of nature, to share the happiness of the river and the woods…I thus from time to time break off my connections with eternal truths and go with the shallow streams of human affairs, but when my task is done, with never failing confidence I devote myself to the infinite again. - Henry David Thoreau Journal entry; January 4, 1857
I stepped out the backdoor this morning to empty the contents of last night’s coffee pot when I looked up and saw I was being watched. A large white tail deer was less than fifty feet away, down the hill towards the cabin standing by the solar panel. He was motionless with his gaze fixed on my curious behavior of tossing brown liquid and grinds onto the white snow. It soon turned into a standoff; me with my coffeepot and he, well, with nothing at all except himself. I’m not sure how long the standoff lasted since neither one of us moved and I didn’t want to take a chance to check my wrist watch. But since he was better equipped to handle the cold, and I frankly was not, I made the first move. I gave a friendly wave and said, “Good morning…” and with that, he turned and bolted for the woods. I guess he had had enough of me (his curiosity waning perhaps) and although he didn’t seem upset with me, he apparently had decided to move along with his day.
When our lives become overly stressed or the responsibilities of the day begin to weight us down, a return to nature can oftentimes restore our sanity, if just for a moment. In nature we have an access point to what Thoreau calls “the infinite.” From out of this space we have a limitless supply of beneficence. What seemed so difficult, if not impossible, just moments before now opens into possibility and new action. Each time we touch “the infinite” it changes us as well as everything around us.
As I was getting ready to go back to the house with my coffee pot, suddenly, three more deer (as if out of nowhere) appear out of the brush and chase after the standoff deer that had just abruptly left. Well, I never saw that coming or going!
Have a great new year. Touch the infinite. Dave
The holidays are upon us! The wonderful, exciting, delicious, busy, often stress-filled days of planning, cooking, celebrating, singing, and winding-down of a full and sometimes rocky year. It is a time also of hunkering down, choosing our challenges wisely, and planning for the next year.
As a church family we do have challenges ahead, when have we not? It is easy to get caught in the worries that simple numbers can bring: dwindling numbers of members, rising numbers of costs, needing numbers of people to help lead and plan… numbers never stop challenging us. In the times when numbers tend to overcome us and we wonder about giving in on some level, it can help to take a brief glance back at where we have come over the past few years. See if you can Remember When… Remember when we had to have annual or biennial “adjustments” to the old wooden ramp to make sure it was mostly level or that we would be able to open the door in the winter? How about when we always had to go downstairs to use a bathroom? Remember when there was a drain from the roof down the middle of the building, or when we had monumental icicles that caused winter leaks over the back stairwell? Remember having nothing but mounds of storage in the basement instead of a cozy cafe with Wi-Fi and wonderful food? More recently, remember wood smoke and bark in the parlor and annual wood work days, and no parking lot? Feeling better yet?
We have come a long way and, yes, there was help along the way as well, but there was a lot that was accomplished with various fundraising efforts. We are a creative bunch and have come up with lots of ways to “make the numbers behave and work for us”. It is time to roll up our collective sleeves, look at our challenges for the new year, and decide our course of action. The congregation does (and should) look to the Board for guidance, but the Board also looks back at the congregation for support and new members. New members bring new ideas and fresh approaches to things. If you haven’t been a part of the church leadership, give a thought to joining us and finding out more about how and why certain decisions were and are made, and add your insights to the mix of possibilities! Ask me or anyone else on the board what you might expect as a member. I’ll tell you one thing – it feels good to be part of the planning!
Happy Yule, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year! Leigh
MONDAY EVENING CONVERSATIONS
February 11 6-8PM - “Mindfulness 101: Brief teachings by Vipassana Teachers"
Mindfulness practices have entered the larger culture in recent years so we thought we would share brief teachings from several of today’s most popular teachers. These teachers have been involved in the Vipassana movement for several decades. The photo shows Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield from the early seventies. (They both have considerably less hair these days.)
Discussion will follow the videos with light refreshments provided by the cafe.
Teaching #1: “How Not to be a Slave to Your Brain” Dr. Mark Epstein (2018)
LOOKING AHEAD... at The Cup Café Gallery
The Cup Café is always available as gallery space for local artists. Please contact Betty White for details.
Stay tuned for information on a possible Spring Art Class! If you would like to sign up for a six-week session of either a watercolor or acrylic painting class, please let Leigh Griffith know which one you are interested in. There is space for eight to ten people, not limited to church members. Beginners welcome, no prior painting experience necessary. We will cover composition, scale, perspective, color and more.
The UU Bangor Coffeehouse is taking their show on the road and heading to Houlton for an April 13th appearance. So we'll be combining our two coffeehouses for a great one night “can’t miss” event. UU coffeehouses are a forty year tradition and we’re doing our best to keep the tradition alive in Northern Maine.
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