Being a Community of Blessing

Soul Matters at Tree of Life: Being a Community of Blessing 

The “sacred lotus” flower originated in southern Asia and Australia.   Because it grows in muddy water and rises above the surface to bloom with remarkable beauty and fragrance, it has been used as a symbol of purity since before the time of the Buddha.  In both its physicality and its symbolism, it is a blessing.

When we think about blessing and blessings, there are several helpful questions that can help us reflect on what meaning this might have for us and our faith community:   Do you believe you are a blessing?    Do you notice the blessings surrounding you — that are part of your life?     Are there blessings in your life that lead you to bless others?

Teachers of mindfulness – both Buddhist and secular – encourage their students to pay attention to what is “working” in their lives.  This is one avenue for bringing attention to the blessings around us.  Often we get bogged down, focusing on challenges and problems, when in fact there usually is so much in our lives that’s actually working well.   When we hold that knowledge in our awareness, we can use it to infuse us with a state of wonderment.

It can also be helpful to remember that blessings don’t just fill us up — they cause us to overflow.   Life spills into us and we spill into others – so that we actively become a blessing.   In other words, blessings don’t just enrich us, they connect us.   And connection in community is a marvelous blessing, indeed.

The June Soul Matters packets offer materials to explore the meaning of “blessing” – as we consider how we experience it in our lives and how it is a part of our experience in community.   The Soul Matters resource packet can be accessed here If you need a printed copy, please feel free to take one from those available in the fellowship room or ask for a copy, if they have all been taken.   You might also like to consider joining a chalice circle to share your insights and hear what others are saying.

Wishing you joy in community,

M.E. Tanabe

Folk Musician and Activist Jim Scott Returns to Tree of Life UU Congregation

Jim Scott, folk singer, composer and musical activist, returns to the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 5603 Bull Valley Road in McHenry, on Saturday June 2 at 7 pm with a new program, “Gather the Spirit—A Raising of Voices.”

Scott, who last performed at Tree of Life in 2016 with his tribute to his inspiration and mentor Pete Seeger, has made it his business for three decades to create and perform music that celebrates the earth. His songs and poetry have inspired and educated audiences around the world. He has developed presentations for every age group and crafted songs that sensitize his listeners to the beauty of the earth, teaching principles of ecology in memorable verses.

“Jim brings a warmth and authenticity that turns any size audience into an intimate gathering,” according to Tree of Life Social Justice Chair Janet Burns.  “His lyrical melodies, well-crafted words, guitar mastery and humorous surprises invite all to get involved with the songs and ideals he raises.  It’s a raising of voices and of spirits as Jim leads songs of earth, peace, community, love and just fun as everyone joins in. A lifelong UU he has visited over 700 UU churches in 3 decades of travels.”

As a member of the Paul Winter Consort and as a solo performer, Scott has recorded 18 albums including the highly acclaimed Missa Gaia/Earth Mass, A Concert for the Earth (Live at the U N), Big and Little Stuff: Songs for Kids, and Body and Soul, a soundtrack for the documentary series on PBS Television.  He is also an active Unitarian Universalist who as co-chair of the Seventh Principle Project helped to create the Green Sanctuary program and accompanying handbook for building an ecological/spiritual awareness in church congregations.

Scott has performed or toured with John Denver, Tracy Chapman, Joan Baez, 10,000 Maniacs, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Holy Near, Dan Fogelberg, Odetta, and Tom Chapin.

His Eco-anthems and modern hymns like Gather in Spirit have been included in the UUA hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition,and a regular part of many Sunday services.

Tickets are $20 but all are welcome for a donation they can afford and are available at the door.

Scott’s CDs will be available for sale after the concert.

For more information call the Tree of Life at 815 322-2464, e-mail office@treeoflifeuu.org

Barn Service 2018

Sunday, June 10, 2018, 10:45am

Our Barn Service will be held on Sunday, June 10, at the Tinklers’ barn – 11314 McConnell Road, Woodstock. The service originated in the 70s at the barn of member Helen Wright, hence the name! The tradition underwent many transformations until the Tinklers’ barn became available. It has always been one of the highlights of the church year. Music will be provided by Ken Johnson. All are welcome. A special collection will be taken to benefit Black Lives UU.

The service will begin at 10:45 as usual and we ask you to bring a flower or two for our traditional flower wheel. We suggest you carpool if possible. Lastly, after the service we will have a potluck. Please bring a dish to pass. We will furnish water, iced tea, and lemonade. Help is needed setting up the tables as well as dismantling them.

A Vision to Bless the World

Sunday, June 3, 2018, 10:45am

M. E. Tanabe

What kind of life and world do we want to see for our children and grandchildren? Using great heart and courage, what kind of world could we create that would be a reflection of our faith? Today we introduce the “vision box” as the opportunity for you to share your vision to help us all grow a vision as a blessing.

Soul Matters at Tree of Life: Creativity

Soul Matters at Tree of Life Being a Community of Creativity

Within the order and design of nature the experience of life and change is constantly unfolding around us — Nature and Life continually flow in acts of creation.  And every sound or movement you make enters the world as part of that flow.   Just by being alive you impact all that’s around you and when you act with intention, the possibilities are unbounded in what may unfold through you.   You are hard wired to be creative — it is a natural impulse within you.  Imagine, what an amazing force of creativity you are!

Bringing the idea of creativity into a philosophy of faith in action, Matthew Fox has organized and teaches Creation Spirituality.  —

“Honoring all of creation as Original Blessing, Creation Spirituality integrates the wisdom of Eastern and Western spirituality and global indigenous cultures, with the emerging scientific understanding of the universe, and the passion of creativity.  It is both a tradition and a movement, celebrated by mystics and agents of social change from every age and culture.  It is also the tradition of the historical Jesus himself since it follows the wisdom tradition of Israel.”

To use our human acts of creativity in alignment with the balance of all life, Creation Spirituality encourages a mindful, and respectful approach has guideline principles:     s The universe is fundamentally a blessing.  s  Through the work of spiritual practice we find our deep and true selves.  s  Every one of us is a prophet.  s Every one of us is an artist.  s Every one of us is a mystic. s Diversity is the nature of the universe.  s Ecological justice is essential for the sustainability of life on Earth.

For creativity to serve and benefit the order and balance of nature and life, it’s important that we grow a mindful awareness of the impact of what we are creating.  To be effective creators, paying attention and reflection are handy tools to develop

The May Soul Matters packets offer materials to explore the meaning and possibilities of “creativity” – as we consider how we experience it in our lives and how it is a part of our experience in community.   The Soul Matters resource packet can be accessed here If you need a printed copy, please feel free to take one from those available in the fellowship room or ask for a copy, if they have all been taken.   You might also like to consider joining a chalice circle to share your insights and hear what others are saying.

Wishing you joy in community,

M.E. Tanabe