Offering Radical Hospitality

Sunday, August 5, 2018, 10:45am

Voices of Tree of Life (maybe yours)

To offer radical hospitality, we need to be sure we are the radical community who can do it. Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt reminds us, “We cannot create radical change in the world…if we are only hanging out with one another…. We can create radical change only with radical engagement…” The fullness of our beloved community is found in our learning to listen with non-judgmental attention and to speak with words that are kind and welcoming. We’ll each be a part of the worship message. In small groups we’ll take on big questions — carefully listening to what others have to say and gently exploring how we and our own thoughts are important to the community. This service is designed to be welcoming to all ages — how life affirming to invite sharing from all generations!

Tree of Life Hosts Peter Mayer

Saturday, October 20, 2018 7:00pm Concert at First Congregational Church 461 Pierson St, Crystal Lake, IL 60014
Tickets are $20 in advance  on Brown Paper Tickets click here 
or pay $25 at the door.
Sunday, October 21, 2018 10:45am Worship Service at Tree of Life UU Congregation 5603 Bull Valley Rd., McHenry, IL 60050.

Peter Mayer writes songs for a small planet—songs about interconnectedness and the human journey; about the beauty and mystery of the world. Whimsical, humorous, and profound, his music breaks the boundaries of “folk”, and transcends to a realm beyond the everyday love song, to a place of wonder at the very fact of life itself.

Peter began playing the guitar and writing songs when he was in high school. In college he studied theology and music, and then spent two years in seminary. Afterward he took a part-time job as a church music director while performing at clubs and colleges, and writing and recording his music. In 1995, he quit his job and started performing full-time. Since then, Peter has gradually gained a dedicated, word-of-mouth following, playing shows from Minnesota to Texas, New England to California. He has ten albums to his credit, and has sold over 80 thousand of them independently.

To sample Peter’s music

“Peter Mayer is a magician…(his) universe is full of metaphor and meaning, story and symbol — everything contains more than meets the eye.”
— Bill Reed, music editor, Colorado Springs Gazette

“His guitar work is breath-taking, his lyrics mind-spinning, his singing soul-soothing and his feet-on-the-ground optimism nothing short of healing.”
–Marilyn Rea-Beyer, music director, WUMB Radio, Boston

“Peter Mayer makes it look easy – beautifully crafted songs that pose eternal questions — his arrangements make it sound like there is certainly more than one man and his guitar in the XM Satellite Radio studios.”
–Mary Sue Twohy, XM Radio

“He is unafraid of complicated topics and always strives to look beyond the easy sentiment…Peter does nothing less than address the very nature of our existence…Trust me, most songwriters can’t pull this off. Peter Mayer does.”
–Dale Connelly, Morning Show Host, MinnesotaPublic Radio

“Mayer’s songs are crafted like shaker furniture, with no place for superfluous embellishments or throwaway lines… (his) world is bright and hopeful and the transcendent nature of his lyrics…explore the mysteries of life…Mayer’s fluid, clean, and tremendously intriguing guitar playing is topped with warm, rich vocals. This is music for the soul.”
–Acoustic Guitar Magazine

There are at least a dozen Peter Mayer songs that I would love to learn myself, but I could never play them as well as he does.”
–David Wilcox, Singer/Songwriter

“I’m a huge Peter Mayer fan, but only when I don’t feel like killing him for being so good. I love Peter’s work, though it irritates me that he plays so much better than I do. If I rocked half as hard as Peter does, I’d own the world by now.”
–Janis Ian, Singer/Songwriter

“Peter delivers contemporary folk music in it’s highest form: Intelligent without being bombastic–empathetic, always fresh and with wit and fantastic melodies. And his guitar playing is top tier.”
–Uncle Calvin’s Coffeehouse, Dallas, TX

“Mayer’s appealing guitar style (is) alternately percussive, rhythmic, melodic, or all of the above. In Mayer’s capable hands the instrument sounds like a calliope one moment, an orchestra the next and then a cleanly picked guitar ala Dave Van Ronk… Mayer is a performer at the top of his game who knows that the secret to living in a world of perplexing questions is enjoying the search for answers.”
–David Kleiner, Minor Seventh Reviews

“Mayer offers up everything you could ever want from a singer/songwriter.”
–Dirty Linen Magazine

“This native of Minnesota is a master storyteller.”
–Folk Roots Magazine

A Box of Chocolates

Sunday, July 29, 2018, 10:45am

Dr. Gina Swinney

Throughout our lives, if we are blessed, we find someone to turn to for counsel, advice, or just to offer a listening ear as we process our thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, if we are blessed, we are that trusted person for someone else. We listen to words with our ears, but we listen to wisdom with our souls. What defines wisdom? How do we know when we are in its presence?

We remember Bob Tirk

We’re so sad to announce that long-time member, Bob Tirk, passed early Tuesday, July 3, 2018. He was such a special person and loved by all whose paths he crossed. Please raise a glass (gin preferred) in his honor today.

Robert “Bob” James Wescott Tirk was born May 29, 1943 in Boston, MA, the son of James Wescott and Marguerite (Greb) Wescott. James Wescott died while serving in the Coast Guard during World War II. Marguerite married Richard “Dick” E. Tirk, who adopted Bob at age 4. Bob grew up in New York and also spent time with the Greb family in Wisconsin.

Bob graduated from Briarcliff High School (NY) and was one of many family members to attend Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, where he majored in music education. There he met fellow music student Ann Uber, who was performing the opera double bill of Gianni Schicchi and Die Fledermaus. Bob and Ann married in her hometown of Hartford, WI on June 19, 1965 and spent 53 happy years together.

Bob and Ann both taught in McHenry County where he served as a music educator for 29 years in Huntley, Woodstock, and Marengo. Early in their teaching careers, they lived on farms in Woodstock where they raised pigs, chickens, and got into the hay baling business. In Marengo, Bob took his band students on many grand adventures including trips to California, Florida, and Churchill, Manitoba. After retirement, he continued to teach part time and worked for the Marengo Park District where he created the “Summer with the Arts” program and helped to build the town pool. As if those activities weren’t enough, Bob enjoyed many hobbies including ham radio, model railroading, family history, National Park stamp collecting, bee keeping, and serving as a den mother for his son’s Cub Scout Pack.

After Bob’s time at the Park, he returned to teaching with Ann at Huntley. Once Ann and Bob both retired, they continued their travels visiting all 50 states, Mexico, and all but one of the Canadian Provinces hauling their fifth wheel (except for Hawaii). At home in Woodstock and Florida, Bob enjoyed singing with several barbershop groups, the Tree of Life Church Choir, and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota Choir. He was an expert chef at Dutch Oven Gatherings, for P.A.D.S. and Compassion for Campers, and for his grandchildren who loved his bacon and pancakes. Always up for a party, Bob loved Friday night fish fries, hot dog roasts, and any opportunity to gather with his family and friends.

He is survived by his beloved wife Ann, his daughter Liz (Brian) Yanoff, Niskayuna, NY; his son Richard (Suzanne) Tirk, Norman, OK; his brother Kirby (Veronica) Tirk of West Chester, PA; and grandchildren Eliana and Jacob Yanoff and Simon and Malia Tirk.

The family thanks the many friends and medical professionals who have helped care for Bob and Ann during his illness. A visitation will be held 7-8:30PM on July 20th. A celebration of Bob’s life will be held on July 21st at 2:00PM. Both will be held at the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 5603 W. Bull Valley Rd. McHenry, IL 60050. In lieu of flowers, donations in Bob’s name can be made to Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation or Land Conservancy of McHenry County, 4622 Dean St. Woodstock, IL 60098.

The Journey Forward

No turning back.

Sunday, July 15, 2018, 10:45am

M.E. Tanabe

Gathering wisdom is a journey – and in such a passage the true gains are
more about what we become than what we’ve acquired.   We are called to take this journey because
the world has great need of the healing that only loving wisdom can offer.


Guitar Duo at Tree of Life

Celebrating Life through Music: Wisdom of Spirit

Sunday, July 22, 2018 10:45am

It is a summer of music at Tree of Life. Classical guitarists Bert Lams and Fabio Mittino will present a program of music from their album “Long Ago” during the worship service at Tree of Life on Sunday, July 22nd as M.E. Tanabe weaves a message of community and wisdom. The songs on “Long Ago” were composed by G.I. Gurdjieff and Thomas De Hartmann, and arranged for two steel-string acoustic guitars by Bert and Fabio.

Fabio is from Italy, and began his study of classical guitar at age 13. In 1998, he attended a Guitar Craft course presented by renowned English guitarist Robert Fripp. Since then, he has continued studying and playing with the Guitar Craft technique.

Bert is originally from Belgium. In 1984, he graduated with honors from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels, where he studied classical guitar. Shortly after that, he became involved with Robert Fripp and his Guitar Craft school, which is how he and Fabio eventually met. More information about the guitar duo and a sample of their beautiful music can be found at

Gurdjieff was a philosopher of Russian/Armenian descent who had the remarkable gift of remembering music he had heard during his travels in Asia and the Middle East: Armenian songs, Hindu melodies, Kurdish melodies, an Orthodox Hymn, Sayyid dances, and others. Many years later he sang and played the melodies to Russian composer Thomas De Hartmann; together they created over 300 pieces between 1918 and 1927.

A major part of Gurdjieff’s teachings stemmed from his belief in movement as a form of meditation; as a result, much of his music was originally intended as accompaniment for choreographed, meditative group dances. But these compositions are not “dance music” as we generally think of it— the mood they create is one of quiet, calm, and contemplation. The music may seem simple, with short pieces that lack any pretension to elaborate formal construction, yet it often turns in unexpected directions, revealing itself as powerful, fascinating and deeply affecting. De Hartmann described it thusly: “Listening to this music, one was touched to the depth of his being.”