On Eating Blueberries With Chopsticks

A couple of months ago, I began an experiment in changing my dietary habits.  Various parts of my life and my body were out of balance, and I longed to feel more control and mindfulness about the food I take in.

Among other things, I have chosen to limit sweet foods such as fruit, and to stick to the most nutrient-dense fruits, such as blueberries.  They’re delicious, round, and blue – I am certainly not depriving myself by choosing them foremost!

In order to slow down my intake, to eat them mindfully to feel full instead of in a gorging manner, I started eating them with chopsticks.  I’m no good with chopsticks; ask Grace sometime about The Chopstick Story from when we were courting.  Eating blueberries with chopsticks can be funny, or it can be elegant, delicate, and oh, so flavorful.

Slow down.  One at a time.  Make every bite an occasion.  Savor.

I hope to try this with moments, too.

March 11: “Let It Be A Dance: a Celebration of Belonging”

10 AM with Rev. Patience Stoddard
“A good relationship has a pattern like a dance” wrote Anne Morrow Lindberg.  This Sunday we will welcome new individuals into the dance of membership and hear from other members about the difference this has made in their lives.

Simultaneous children’s religious education

11:30 Tea with the Board –with Lori Fortini, Judy Munger, and Mugs Johnston; Childcare provided.

11:45 RE Roundtable
Welcoming Young Families!  So many of us hope for lovely, energetic, fun new families to become part of our congregation, let’s talk about being a welcoming place.  We will address the issue of expectations of children’s behavior in public and how we respond to excited kids and stressed parents.  All welcome especially if the topic makes you uncomfortable.  We will leave with concrete small tasks to do to grow in community awareness.  Childcare provided.

A Sunday Morning Experiment

During the month of March, you will see a few changes to the service in the opening moments.  In their ongoing work to introduce the congregation to different pacings, formats, and styles of worship, they have accepted my proposal to create the service opening on four Sundays, culminating in Children’s Sunday on March 25th.

Please expect the opening fifteen minutes of worship to be quickly paced, full of hymns that are easy for young singers, and joyfully accepting of toddlers who need to wriggle their bodies.  Families with young kids will have special roles to fulfill.

We wondered whether folks who are uncomfortable with the high energy of active children might begin to be late to the services… and then realized that would be all right.  While we all recognize the value in true intergenerational interaction, nothing’s going to be lost by a one-month experiment.

I look forward to seeing you in March, my friends, Sunday mornings at 10 AM sharp.

ANNOUNCEMENT of Congregational Meeting to be held on February 11, 2018

ANNOUNCEMENT of Congregational Meeting to be held on February 11, 2018

In accordance with the Bylaws of the UUCUV, the Board of Directors will hold a Congregational Meeting on Sunday, Febryary 11, 2018 at 11:30 am.  This meeting is called in respponse to request form a group of members and friends who met on Social Justice issues on January 21, 2018.  The Meeting will consist of a single issue on whether we should put up the “Black Lives Matter” sign outside of the UUCUV Meeting House.

The Motion is: The Board asks that the UUCUV members approve the display of a “Black Lives matter” sign outside of the Meeting house.

We hope that everyone will be able to attend this meeting to vote.  While the UUCUV does not allow for proxy votes, if you are not able to attend, you are invited to write a note in agreement or in opposition to the Motion.  Please direct your note to the Board prior to the meeting by email or mail and the notes will be read at the meeting to have your opinion stated.

Child care will be provided.  Please contact a member of the Board if you have questions.

February 11: Love Is the Doctrine

10 AM with Rev. Patience Stoddard

If love is our doctrine, what should we be doing? Sparrow pointed out to me that three of the current priorities of this congregation — the continuation and strengthening of the Restorative Circles Group, the Right Relations team to create a new covenant of Right Relations for this congregation, and the formation of a new Social Justice Committee/Team are all ways of working to put our collective love into action. Where are we now in this work and where do we hope to go in the next few months and beyond?

Simultaneous children’s religious education

ANNOUNCEMENT of Congregational Meeting to be held on February 11, 2018

In accordance with the Bylaws of the UUCUV, the Board of Directors will hold a Congregational Meeting on Sunday, Febryary 11, 2018 at 11:30 am.  This meeting is called in respponse to request form a group of members and friends who met on Social Justice issues on January 21, 2018.  The Meeting will consist of a single issue on whether we should put up the “Black Lives Matter” sign outside of the UUCUV Meeting House.

The Motion is: The Board asks that the UUCUV members approve the display of a “Black Lives matter” sign outside of the Meeting house.

We hope that everyone will be able to attend this meeting to vote.  While the UUCUV does not allow for proxy votes, if you are not able to attend, you are invited to write a note in agreement or in opposition to the Motion.  Please direct your note to the Board prior to the meeting by email or mail and the notes will be read at the meeting to have your opinion stated.

Child care will be provided.  Please contact a member of the Board if you have questions.

What Sparrow’s Reading This Week

I like to think of this occasional feature as a place for me to be useful to parents – more often than not, it’s a link to someone else being useful to parents!

But this week, it’s a straight-up list of my current pleasures:

  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • A Wind in the Door
  • A Swiftly Tilting Planet
  • The Little Prince
  • The Velveteen Rabbit

Befriend me on Goodreads to watch as I build my Shelf of Recommended Children’s Books.

(That’s right.  “Friend” isn’t a verb.  “Befriend” is a verb.  Feel free to ask me about other uses of the prefix “be-” in Early Modern English.)

Dark Moon Celebration

Are you traveling?  Caught at home during inclement weather?  Just content to be cozy at home?  To celebrate the dark of the moon alone or just with family, here are some things I do:

  • sit in the dark, fully aware of it, breathing it in, listening to my own feelings of anxiety turn to peace and then to wonder
  • name and welcome forces of darkness – that can be name of gods I have heard (Washer, Kali, Hecate for example) or natural phenomena (Night, Sleep, Death, dark matter) or human experience (stillness, sleep, sadness, mystery)
  • In my dark space, then I light a candle (I love candles in the snow!)
  • I tell a story of escape, success, or heroism that was made possible by the dark, moonless night or by deep shadows or fog.
  • Then, I try to look inside.  Some seeds germinate only in the dark – what is quickening within me now?  How can I nurture that possibility?
  • I like to have either art media or writing tools at hand so I can honor the thoughts that have come to me by responding to them.
  • I always thank the guides and stories and companions which have joined me.
  • Then I get back to normal time and space with some kind of food – water, pomegranate (with thanks to Persephone), mushrooms-and-onions, soup.  Of course vanilla ice cream with maple syrup, but that’s considered appropriate for all occasions!

Enjoy the Dark of the Moon, friends!  ~ Sparrow

President’s Message

Like all of you, I have so many feelings since the events in Charlottesville VA – outrage and deep sadness at the senseless murder of Heather Heyer, disgust at the lack of leadership in denouncing the white supremacist Neo-Nazi groups, and a restlessness calling me to action, but a sense of helplessness as to what to do. I tell myself that the church needs to respond. We need to just put up the “Black Lives Matter” sign right now and stand up. But I know this is not a unanimous decision by the congregation and I cannot move forward unilaterally. I want to assure you that we did not drop the ball on this issue after the Annual Meeting. On Sunday August 27th, Patience addressed the issue of race and action and I shared my experiences from the UUA General Assembly in New Orleans from June regarding the racial healing work being done at the UUA. (See story in this issue of the Call, page 12). But as ready as some of us are to move, there are some in the congregation that voiced discomfort and disagreement with the movement. And so, we have to once again take a deep breath and step back. We need to find other ways to talk together and become more educated in the issues surrounding the Black Lives UU. It is slow going. Process can be tedious. But, being in right relations and in community with each other is hard work. We need to learn to talk together and deeply listen to each other to be sure that all voices are heard. We need to move forward with intention. The Board needs to grapple with how decisions are made on what goes up in front of our building. But doing nothing also sends a message. Being silent is being complicit. Bill Brawley is starting to mobilize people interested in social justice work. Please let us know if you are interested in this effort. (Bill can be reached at BBrawley@mac.com.) I believe there are ways to become a voice for social action while still listening to each other and trying to find common ground. Many of us do our social action work outside of the church with other groups. Although that is satisfying, I still believe that the UUCUV needs to be a united voice in the Upper Valley. A place where we live our values and where people who are struggling with injustice can find allies. May we work together to find a way to respond to the hate and terrible injustice in our country. And may you all hold our congregational leadership accountable if we don’t work fast enough.

~ by Lori Fortini, reprinted from the Autumn 2017 newsletter

November 12: The Myths We Live By

10 AM, Rev. Patience Stoddard

Understanding the difference between a myth and a historical fact is one of the many things that differentiates the UU approach to faith from that of the more orthodox traditions. However, in our personal and cultural lives this clarity can be difficult to perceive and act upon. What are some of the myths we live by and may need to challenge in order to grow?