Being a Community of Abundance

Soul  Matters  at  Tree  of  Life   Being a Community of  Abundance

Almost always the way we think about our abundance is colored by our perceived circumstances contrasted with  our perceived needs.  This month’s Soul Matters  packet encourages us to look for what we appreciate in our lives in or order to give some “weight” to what is already available to us

When we take care to find what has value for us, the realization also carries a natural gratitude. From our sense of abundance  and its accompanying gratitude is a visible line connecting us to our generosity –with our time, our goodwill, our creativity,  and our material goods.  With that in mind,  I’d like to offer a paraphrased excerpt from Kahlil Gibran’s poem on Giving.

“…there are those who give and do not feel loss in their giving, nor do they seek fulfillment, nor are they thinking of their virtue;  they give as blossoming trees breathe fragrance into space.   Through the hands of such givers, the Divine speaks……     ….although some say, I will give, but only to the deserving, the trees in the orchard and the flocks in the field believe otherwise:  they give so that they may live; for them to withhold is to perish.

….reflect on your ability to be an instrument of giving – for in truth, it is life that gives to life.  While you think of yourself as a giver, you are only a witness….”

This month may we come together as a community in exploring the meaning of “abundance” – as we think about ways to experience it our lives and as we work to see it manifested around us.   “Abundance”  is the theme for our worship services.   The resource packet can be accessed here If you need a printed copy, please feel free to take a copy from those available in the fellowship room (or ask for a copy, if they have all been taken).   You are also invited to join discussion through one of our Chalice Circles – you can find details about these circles here  and there are also flyers next to the other packets.

Wishing you joy in community, M.E. Tanabe

Exploring Soul Matters

Exploring Soul Matters

        and Growing Community

                at Tree of Life

Within UU congregations, the “small group ministry” is a widely accepted format for adult programs.   Sometimes the groups are known by the name of the curriculum being used, but often the name “chalice circle”  is chosen because the chalice is the UU symbol of the sacred aspect of worship and also because listening to one another is a sacred act of community…..so  Chalice Circle  is the name we are using at Tree of Life.

In one form or another, this type of program has been ongoing in our community since 2011 .  Since 2014 we have been using the Soul Matters curriculum for our circles and in the past year we have expanded to 4 circles meeting every month.   When we gather, we come to know the joys and challenges of each other’s lives and we hear the deeper thoughts and questions that we all share as human beings  — the stories of others help make our own stories appear to us with more clarity.

In September our circles resume and will explore the topic of Welcome.(click here for packet)   All circles meet once a month with a maximum of 10 persons.   Below is a list of the ongoing circles, but we are eager to start new ones as well.  It’s possible to have a circle meet in someone’s home if there is enough interest in a general location – such as Woodstock.

If you would like to hear how people feel about this program,  Marc Stettner, Sue McCowin, Irene Raven, or Judy Stettner would be happy to share their experiences.   If you’re unsure if this is for you, you are welcome to attend and then decide if you would like to continue.

Exisiting Circles meet monthly  (for Sept, the 2nd Sunday is being moved temporarily)

2nd  Wednesday   10:00 – 11:30 am

2nd Sunday  9:00 – 10:00 am                                          New Circles proposed:

2nd Sunday 6:30 – 8:00 pm                                             1st  Sunday 6:30 – 8:00 pm                                

3rd Sunday 6:30 – 8:00 pm                                                 and we’re open for requests

If you have questions, comments, would like to sign up for a circle, or propose a different circle time, we would love to hear from you, so feel free to use our contact information or talk to us in church.

 

In faith,

  1. E. Tanabe Ph. 815 337 9895            and                                    Janet Burns     Cell  847 542 7678               m.e.tanabe@comcast.net                                                                      janetrugi@yahoo.com

 

“Listening solidifies relationships and is a foundation for community.  Listening with undivided attention and without interruption moves us beyond differences and shows deep respect; the speaker is valued.  Paying attention and being paid attention create a community which embodies our UU principle of affirming and promoting the worth and dignity of each person ….

            Having others attend to your personal story affirms your journey, and having others listen to you encourages you to take yourself more seriously.  Trusting yourself to speak your truth to a group strengthens your ability to speak your truth wherever you go” 

— Rev. Barbara Hamilton-Holway

 

“I suspect the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen.  Just listen.  Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention… When people are talking, there’s no need to do anything but receive them”

 

— Rachel Naomi Remen

Stone Soup

Sunday October 29, 2017 10:45am

Sam Jones and Religious Education

A Stone Soup Service. We all have something to share, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. When we each come together in community to share our gifts, we find that something new and oftentimes wonderful is created as a result. Join us as we illustrate this in story and participation, sharing in a community soup, the result of what happens when we each bring something to the community.

Everyone is invited to bring a little of their favorite soup vegetable already cut up for today’s service.

We will also have a little pre-Service-Auction fun. Bring canned goods to church today and receive a coupon for $5 off on any purchase at the Service Auction to be held November 4. After the service, all the children are invited to go on a scavenger hunt to find the hidden canned goods. The kids will earn Service Auction coupons for cans they find. Last year, one very intrepid can hunter found a soup can that had been hiding on the church grounds for years. Besides earning coupons to use at the Service Auction, the canned goods will be donated to the McHenry Food Pantry. So this is a win-win for everybody.

Keeping the Dream Alive

Sunday January 22, 2017 10:45am

Sam Jones and the Religious Education Committee

What was it like to live through the civil rights era?  What was it like to witness prejudice and injustice?  How far have we come from that time in history? Join The Religious Education Committee as we honor the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and share stories from a book which tells of the Civil Rights experiences from people who lived through it. We will also all share in making a sand mandala together. There will be of songs by members of our committee, as well as congregational songs that will specifically add to the experience.

Insight from the Director: What I Set My Heart To

The word credo comes from Latin and has several roots or meanings, the literal translation is “what I set my heart to “On May 15th, our Coming Of Age students ended their program by sharing their faith statements, or credos, with the congregation.  For those who were not able to attend, and for those who would just like to revisit those statements, I have included a link in this article.  Everyone agreed that this is such a meaningful UU ritual.  People came up to me after service to say that they were feeling the need to examine their own credos, as adults.  This is actually something that we all should do from time to time.  We need to examine our personal credos, what do we value? what do we believe? for what greater purpose do we live? in what do we have faith? and what ultimate meaning do we bind ourselves to?  If we are going to live our lives with intention, or consciously, if we are going to have a life with purpose, even if only the purpose we assign to it, we need to examine where we stand with our beliefs today.  Surprisingly, you might find that you no longer hold beliefs from the past.  You might, for example, discover that what you used to think was important, is no longer.  We are often caught up in a cycle of working and consuming that keeps us too busy to slow down for self-reflection.  We are unable to grow toward greater understanding of our true nature unless we take the time to examine and reflect upon our life. In Unitarian Universalism, our third and fourth principles suggest “acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations” and “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning” respectively.  We are blessed to have a religion that encourages our own self-exploration to know ourselves better.  To assist in your individual spiritual paths of self-awareness and discovery, I have included a list of questions to ponder and answer to help create your own personal faith statements or credos:

  • What are some of your beliefs about how humans should act?
  • What are some of your beliefs about the origins of the universe?
  • What do you believe about how the universe functions?
  • What are some of your beliefs about a higher power?
  • What are some of your beliefs concerning life, death and the afterlife?
  • What do you think is sacred?
  • Which of these beliefs affect the way you act? How?

In faith,

Sam Jones, Director of Religious Education

Celebrating Our Learning Community

May 15, 2016 10:45am

Sam Jones, Director of Religious Education

We will honor our volunteer teachers, Coming of Age volunteers and the Religious Ed Committee. We will acknowledge those students who will be bridging to the next level, including our High School graduates. The Coming Of Age students will celebrate the end of their program by reading their faith statements, (credos) to the congregation.

Message from the Director of Religious Education

Spring Flowers edited

 

Signs of spring are showing up all around me as I write this.   I especially am appreciating all the different birds that I missed hearing over the winter.  For Religious Education, this means we are winding down from another church school season.

 

This was to be the year that we tighten our church school community.  One of the ways we chose to accomplish this goal (and we did accomplish it), was to have a one room, all ages classroom.

 

A Rainforest curriculum was chosen to embrace our 7th Principle, “spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature”, or, as stated in the children’s simplified version, “valuing our interdependence with nature”.

 

We found that the younger children benefitted most, but the curriculum wasn’t as engaging for the older students, so they branched off into another curriculum which deviated from our “one room classroom” model, however, was a necessary move in order to keep the older students coming.  So, all was not lost from this experiment, it helped to achieve our goals, to re-evaluate and rediscover the sense of community that was needed and to implement a creative solution to an attendance concern.   Currently, our regular Religious Education attendance is hovering around 50%, which is above our average.

 

Our fifth and sixth grade level sexuality program was successful, with a total of six students in regular attendance.  Two of those students were from the outside community, so that was a nice surprise, that says a lot about our program.

 

Our Coming Of Age program is still happening and is six students strong.  Thanks to the classroom leadership of  M.E. Tanabe, Sue McCowin, and our intern ministers, Michelle Lattanzio and Misha Lentz, and of course, the amazing mentors who deserve status of “elite member” of this church community.

 

Strong programs such as the ones we have offered this season are what strengthen the ties of our church community and quite possibly the community around us.  I think we still have a lot to offer, and we are doing it, one church season at a time.

Blessings,

Sam Jones

Falling In Community

From Sam Jones, Director of Religious Education

We have enjoyed a spectacular Fall this year. The weather and the colors have been the reason for many pictures and activities. The Fall season always stirs up fond memories of leaf collecting, coloring and pulling out warmer clothing, warm foods like soups and stews and enjoying the spectacular panorama that nature can sometimes offer. Of course Halloween occurs during this time and that contours up fond memories of sweet delights. It is a time to start going within and going in (the house that is). We sometimes find ourselves spending more time separated rather than together as a community, which is why one of our goals is to create a closer knit all-ages community. One of the ways in which we hope to achieve this is by having regular, fun, all-ages gatherings. We hope to see many people taking advantage of these offerings as they come available. Stay aware of our church communications for details or you might miss some community FUN!!
Speaking of going in, our “one room classroom” model has been working nicely, we have gotten to know each other better and have had some fun in the process. We have had several new families regularly attending church and that’s always a good thing.
Speaking of activities, one of the goals in Religious Education and church as a whole has been to do things that strengthen our relationships with each other, things that create community. One of the activities towards that goal was our Playing In Color gathering. At least a dozen people, stayed and had pizza followed by coloring. The coloring page choices were plentiful as were the colored pencils, markers and crayons. We enjoyed relaxing to conversation and coloring. Next time we just might add soothing, ambient music to add to the quieting of our minds. Next on our agenda is Laughter Yoga facilitated by one of our intern ministers and me, this will be a fun way to actively ‘de-stress’ and have a good laugh in the process. Following are some of the benefits of Laughter Yoga. If you are at least a bit curious and looking for a new experience, join us on November 15th from 12:15-2:15.

Easy and fun exercise for health and happiness

Reduces Stress Instantly, strengthens immune system

Keeps you in good mood and cheerful throughout the day

Oxygenates your brain and makes you feel more energetic

Keeps Positive mental attitude in difficult times

Other plans in the works are as follows, so please mark your calendar and make room in your lives to come together as a community for fun and connection. Hope to see you at one or all of these upcoming events.

Mindfulness Practice- with Julie Gibson,  December 6th from 12:00-2:00

Folk Dancing From Around the World- Gail Wells, February 21, from 12:30-2:30

Good old fashioned SOCK HOP- Bruce Weiss, March 5th from 6:30-9:30

Further details and reminders will be published in the Happenings and Bulletins as the dates get closer. These are ALL AGES activities. Nursery care can be provided as requested for those under 3 years old if that is needed.

Let’s all put aside our troubles, worries and stresses of our lives and just have some FUN with each other!!!

 

Infinite Potential — A walk on the wild side….

…when there’s more than meets the eye.
What are the implications for us, when the discoveries of physics point to a dimension of reality that can’t be seen or measured – but can be utilized? All around us we use modern technology that relies on utilizing waves but we never think about all the waves that also make up our lives.
Last fall I accidentally came upon an interesting Youtube lecture, by Lothar Schäfer, posted from a Science and Non-duality (SAND) conference. From there I looked for his book – Infinite Potential – and found it very readable and this summer I discovered others who were also interested. Although the book is written by a physicist and deals with the implications of quantum physics, the author’s dry wit and enthusiasm are interwoven to make the book enjoyably understandable – and the book is more of a philosophical treatment of quantum physics than a scientific one (which is reserved for the Appendix). You can see the SAND lecture by Dr. Schäfer at the link below – it’s 40 minutes long, but the first 8 minutes give an understanding of what he’s talking about (and an indication of his humor).

So. As was mentioned in last week’s Happenings, several of us have read or are in the process of reading the book. Because of our interest in meeting to talk about how the book enhances our understanding of the seen (and unseen) reality, we thought there might be others also interested in reading and talking about this fascinating subject. No meeting times /places have been set, although we’re probably looking to the end of October. Once we know how many more people are interested and where they’re located we can better choose but if, for example, we want to meet at Woodstock library, we’ll have to arrange something soon. We look forward to hearing your interest or inquiries.

I have 2 extra copies of the book that I can share.

Contact M. E. Tanabe: m.e.tanabe@comcast.net (815) 337-9895