Wednesday, August 12, 2020

You're invited: Mole Music StoryWalk (August 2020)

 Reconnect with our church grounds AND share in a good story!  Mole Music, written and illustrated by David McPhail, is a spiritual story that connects with all ages. It reminds us that sometimes we don't even know the impact of our small actions.  It reminds me of the Rumi quote, "Let the beauty we love, be what we do.  There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground."

Mole Music has been generously loaned to us through StoryWalk VT and Kellogg-Hubbard Library.  For the rest of August 2020, you'll find laminated pages from the story set-up counter clockwise in the church yard, starting near the benches in the School St. yard.  

We'd love to have a guest book at the end of the walk, but with COVID 19, an online guest book seems best.  Please use the Comments section below to share your thoughts after your visit!  Simply select Comment and then Name/URL.  You can leave the URL section blank.  The comment will be visible soon (I screen comments since it is wide open to anyone on the internet).  

In the comments we'd love to hear your thoughts on any of these questions: 

  • What is the most beautiful music you have ever heard?  How did it make you feel?

  • What does the author mean when he says Mole “kept at it?”   Have you ever had to “keep at” something? 

  • What story unfolds in the pictures that we do not read in the words?  Why do you think the author does that?

  • Playing his violin made Mole happy while ALSO bringing joy to others.  What activity makes you happy?  Is there something you love to do that also makes the world a kinder, better or more beautiful place?  (Some people say that is your "calling" in the world.)

Synopsis by Kathleen Pelley:

"After listening to a man playing a violin on the television, Mole is inspired to send away for a violin of his own. At first, he can only make horrid, screeching noises, but he “keeps at it,” and soon he is making beautiful music. Sometimes, he imagines that his music could “reach into people’s hearts and melt away their anger and sadness.” Then he laughs at himself and falls asleep dreaming beautiful, peaceful dreams.

What is not to love about an endearing Mole who “keeps at it?” What a lovely example of tenacity and hope – an opportunity to give readers an “enhanced view of the possibilities of their lives.” As children listen to the words of this story, they see another story unfolding above ground in the illustrations, as David McPhail shows the reader just how Mole’s music IS indeed changing the world, only Mole cannot see these changes from his underground home.

Aha – is that not a familiar experience for us all? How often do we fret about the “value” of our work, or doubt our dreams? We do not always see the fruit of our labor, but this tender tale encourages us all to “keep at it” – that is – keep living and loving and giving of yourself, and we will make the world a better place with our own “music.”

This tale of HOPE is one that you can share with people of ALL ages as a way to mark significant milestones, or to celebrate and acknowledge their work in the world – be they musicians or monks, bakers or bankers, scientists or storytellers, for truly we do all have the same job – making the world a better place!

Souvenirs from the story – a dollop of HOPE!"  ~ Kathleen Pelley, Children's author and storyteller

Small Group Ministry ~ Summer Session Service Project

Saturday, June 20, 2020

LSE Library and Black Lives Matter Library

Summer is a great time to curl up with a glass of lemonade and nurture your spiritual journey through reading!  Stop by the Lifespan Spiritual Exploration library which will be living on my front porch.  There is hand sanitizer to use, and a sign-out sheet. Topics include: 

  • Spiritual Practices (collections of fun, short essays on a variety of types, or books on specific practices like prayer)
  • Anti-racism work, dismantling white supremacy (White Fragility, Waking Up White, The Hate U Give, Just Mercy)
  • UU History
  • Spiritual side of aging
  • UU parenting themes
  • Books on mindfulness -- all ages
  • Picture books on a variety of topics
  • LGBTQ picture books for kids

Please see the church directory for my address or the Summer 2020 Newsletter that went out via email on June 12.

I want to expand our offerings of picture books about racism and how to be anti-racist but supplies are currently very limited and I'd like to support our local book stores, so here is something to hold you over for now.

Click the link below to access great read alouds on topics such as Activism and Advocacy, Self-love and empowerment, Black History, and libros en espanol.  There's a slide at the end with places to make donations to support this work.


Black Lives Matter Instructional Library (click here)

Friday, June 19, 2020

Get on the bus for the UU (virtual) Road Trip ~ June, July, and August 2020

It’s a magical VW bus, with unlimited space and no emissions!  All are welcome aboard. While our UCM worship team takes a break for the summer, you can continue weekly online worship with us. Come and learn more about our wider UU faith from East to West! To see where we've been and where we're going next on the road trip--including the links to worship--visit our UU Road Trip Dashboard (click here). We hope you'll consider joining our Coffee Hour at 11am each Sunday, to share impressions. You can find the Zoom info in the Dashboard link above.  Thank you for joining us on this virtual faith adventure! 

The UU Road Trip Team 
(Brenda Bean, Sarah Franklin, Vic Guadagno, Paul Hartmann, Barbara Thompson, and Liza Earle-Centers)

Friday, June 12, 2020

The First Flower Ceremony ~ A StoryWalk in the UCM Church Yard through June 14, 2020

This illustrated version became the pages to a StoryWalk that Anne Ferguson and Liza Earle-Centers set-up around our church yard for the first two weeks in June.  Many thanks to Anne, along with the flower crew of Bernice Tuttle, Pat Carstensen, Jackie Dennison, and Beth Damon who helped decorate the StoryWalk and create a Leave a Flower, Take a Flower station in the yard the weekend of June 6-7th!

It was a special way for all ages to connect with our church building after much time away, and with the land that it sits upon.

Keep an eye out in the e-news (or just in the church yard) for additional StoryWalks for part of July and part of August.


March Mystery Madness becomes May Mystery Madness

"We didn't realize we were making memories. We just knew we were having fun." ~A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh (opening words that Deb found for Big Reveal) We just had a blast with a fantastic turnout for our Big Reveal Party. 

It was originally March Mystery Madness, but morphed (after an initial delay) into May Mystery Madness! Pairs where both wanted to continue sent email messages to and then Deborah Van Ness or I would forward them along to the right person, MINUS any identifying email addresses. 

So, on Sunday June 7th, we had 16 pairs continue for the late spring version and it was really special to have some connect time in breakout rooms. People shared three show-and-tell items that were special to them. THANK YOU so much to all the pairs and to Deb (from JOLLIFICATION) for making the revival possible. While we all would have loved to meet in person, one observation was that it was a lot easier to hear one another in a Zoom breakout room than in a full vestry during coffee hour.

Deborah Van Ness of JOLLIFICATION was absolutely key to the successful transition to MAY Mystery Madness.  Thank you, Deb!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Middle School UU Magic Lab -- UCM and UU Church of Medford, MA

One of the best silver linings of this pandemic time for me is seeing meaningful connections and relationships form that NEVER would have happened otherwise. UU Magic Lab is one of those examples. Here's a middle school class with 8 middle schoolers (3 from UCM and 5 from the UU in Medford, MA) who are dedicated students of Magic doing a 12 week course with magician and UU seminary student, Rob Kinslow. They meet every Sunday at 4pm on Zoom, and many add in an optional practice session on Thursday afternoons. 
Rob a classmate of Julie Julie Erickson Bond and because of their connection, he gave the invite to UCM middle schoolers to join in. Rob masterfully inspires and encourages these kids to create, to work hard, to support one another. They start with check-ins and dive into the t
rick details and in the end he always weaves in some connections to UU principles or history at the same time.

I was part of today's class and blown away to see these middle schoolers taking initiative to share tricks they've been practicing on their own (a big risk since they're new to learning them), see them teach each other the tricks. The tone was so supportive and many of them have never even met in person! They've built up some really nice rapport. We're hopeful to have an in-person gathering at some future date and offer a real LIVE magic show! Thank you to Julie Erickson Bond for making the connection happen, and also to Mimi Olivier (DRE in Medford) and of course, Rob Kinslow and all the fabulous youth.

During the session pictured here, since the kids were sharing tricks they were learning to create on their own, Rob mentioned Henry Nelson Wieman. Rob says, "He wrote The Source of Human Good. Hardest book I ever read -- literally took me months to read -- but possibly the most important book I read in all of seminary. If I've interpreted him correctly, the source of human good is the creative event, divine creativity -- not creation itself, but the act of creating and creating the conditions for creating."

Above: the group made cards for a surprise celebration of the fact that Rob graduated from seminary a few days prior!  He's an official UU minister!

May 19, 2020 ~ Zentangles as Spiritual Practice with Sally Armstrong

Do you find yourself with some nervous energy lately and wonder how to channel it into a calming practice?  Are you suddenly sitting through a lot of online meetings and webinars and hoping to find a way to keep your hands busy to help you mind stay focused?  Maybe you have always been a doodler and need a new twist on the art form.  

Our weekly Art from the Heart gathering (Tuesdays at 9am) invited UCM member and former DRE, Sally Armstrong, to lead an introduction to the art of Zentangles.  Thank you so very much, Sally, and all who joined us.  We hope many more of you will try it out from watching the video!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

May 3, 2020 ~ Slideshow of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration 2019-2020

Here is our annual Lifespan Spiritual Exploration slideshow. This year it made me both sad and joyful to put this together.  Sad in that it is hard to realize how much I miss us being all together the same spaces.  Joyful, in that it was a treat to be reminded of all the wonderful memories we created in Lifespan Spiritual Exploration this year.  

THANK YOU to all our amazing, dedicated volunteers without whom we couldn't offer these program.   THANKS goes also to the participants across the lifespan who make the programs come to life!

Thank you also to the many people who took pictures this year and shared them with me when I didn't have my camera at the ready!

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

April 2020 ~ Sit Spot as a Spiritual Practice

Thank you to all of you who have shared descriptions or pictures of your Sit Spot.  Here's the how to that Marissa helped me make, to encourage you all to find a spot near your home to connect with on a daily or weekly basis if you can!

How to Find a Sit Spot:

We hope to hear from even more of you soon to add to this inspiring collection of special spots.  Email me at ucm.dre (at) gmail (dot) com

"M found her Sit Spot and now she heads there every day." 

"I had actually been looking outside my house earlier in the morning thinking about how to create a sitting spot next to the river bank. You gave me the reason. I also had Juniper start a sit spot at my brother's farm last week!"
~Katie Swick

The view last night from my sit spot. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence comets my help.”

~ Mhairi P.

The first is a photo of me sitting in my still relatively new green house. I didn't realize when I built it that it would also be a great place to meditate and in fact now is more important than growing food as I have a large garden.

The second photo is of our "sacred circle." It sits on top of a knoll just  short walk from our home. From it are gorgeous views ranging from Camel's Hump to Mt. Mansfield and beyond.

And I have a third place that is a twenty minute walk to the "upper meadows" where there is also a place to sit with even more spectacular views of a larger section of the Green Mountain Range.

UCM members and friends are welcome to come here to "stop and sit" any time during the middle of the week.

Just email me at (at) gmail (dot) com. 

"I thought about you yesterday when I came upon a favorite "stand spot" this time of year at a vernal pool on my road.  The frogs in there make quite a racket, and if I walk too close, they clam up.  Well, yesterday I decided that I would outsmart them and walk like an Indian.  I did pretty well for a while, but eventually they figured it out and shut up.  I crept away and they started the cacophony again.  But this time just standing there patiently after they got quiet, I saw something I had never seen when a bunch just floated up to the surface and stayed there.  I wish I had taken my binoculars--tomorrow I will."  ~ Paula Gills  

Thursday, April 30, 2020

THRESHOLDS: Spiritual Exercises and Theme Packet for May

Who knew that the theme of Thresholds would be so timely for this coming month of May when we find ourselves in a middle ground, between two worlds?

Here's a letter of introduction to this month's theme, by Rev. Scott Tayler and the Soul Matters team which puts our monthly packet of spiritual exercises and resources together.  For those of you who find yourself craving it and with time for it, this can be a time of rich personal and spiritual development.  If you'd like to be emailed these rich packets for your own perusal and spiritual reflection at the start of each month, sign-up here.  We hope to start more online small groups soon, including Soul Matters groups that meet to reflect on their experience trying out a spiritual exercise or pondering the questions.

What Does It Mean To Be
A People of Thresholds?

When encountering thresholds, we often talk as if our work is that of successfully “passing through” them. We speak of “making healthy transitions.” We seek out advice and support as we decide which thresholds to lean into and which to resist. The goal, it would seem, is figuring out how to travel forwardin the rightway.

But what if the true invitation of a threshold is not to successfully move from here to there, but instead to just sit and pause? What if we saw thresholds as resting places rather than as those moving walkways that transport us through airports? What if thresholds help us “become” by asking us to just “be” for a while?  No moving. Just noticing and naming. Less traveling and more listening.  

One of our Soul Matters ministers, the Rev. Sara LaWall, gets at this when she writes, “A [threshold is] a space to imagine a new way, and new self. Not moving or pushing but sitting and cultivating… [the goal] is to allow you space and time to reflect on your past, present, and future.  To imagine a new beginning…”

And that imagining and naming may be more powerful than we usually assume. From the outside, it may seem that nothing has changed in our lives, and yet once that imaging takes shape in our minds and hearts, nothing is ever the same. The idea, the dream, the recognition suddenly takes on gravity. And that gravity creates an inevitability that transforms us, sometimes whether we like it or not.

Here’s how the writer Gary Zukav puts it, “At that moment [of realization], a threshold is crossed. What seemed unthinkable becomes thinkable... Once that realization has emerged, you can either honor it or ignore it, but you cannot forget it. What has become known can not become unknown again.”

So friends, maybe our question this month isn’t “Are you ready to change?” but “How have you already changed?” How have you already passed through? How is your “threshold work” the work of noticing a shift inside you that has alreadyoccurred? 

           There is, after all, no forgetting it. Only living it. And letting it live in us.

You're invited: Mole Music StoryWalk (August 2020)

  Reconnect with our church grounds AND share in a good story!   Mole Music , written and illustrated by David McPhail, is a spiritual story...