Mystery: Our Relationship to the Unknown

Sunday, December 2, 2018 10:45am

M.E. Tanabe

There is a difference between mystery (lower case) and Mystery (with a capital “M”). Dr. Rachel Remen reminds us that this latter Mystery “cannot be solved, it can only be lived. A sense of Mystery can take us beyond disappointment and judgement to a place of expectancy. It opens in us an attitude of listening and reverence.”

You can still get in on Auction fun

Our Fall FUNdraiser Auction may be over but you can still get in on the fun. Some of the big parties offered have space left. Did you mean to bid on this but got distracted? Were you unable to make it to the auction that night? Have you thought it over and now you’re sad you didn’t bid on that party? You are in luck! Just email the office which of the parties you and your friends want to be added to. 

Wine, Chocolate, Cheese & Love Songs hosted by Tom Steffens and Beth Hoover $35 each 9 spots left

Date: Sunday, February 17, 2019 4pm-7pm

What could be a better ending to your Valentine’s holiday than experiencing wine, chocolate, cheese and love songs? Come to sample many different varieties of food and drink accompanied by love songs performed by Tom and his friends.


Spooky Halloween Party hosted by Marc and Judy Stettner only $15 for adults; kids are free 19 spots available

Date: Saturday, October 28, 2019 5pm-8pm

Fun for the whole family. Come in your ghoulish best for costume contests, games, prizes, food and the witches brew!



Barn Party 2019 hosted by Tinkler, Burns, Dionne, Light, Murphy, Meyer and Tirk families. $25 each 28 spots left

Date: Saturday, August 17, 2019 7pm-10pm

Join us at the Tinkler’s Barn in Woodstock for a live performance by Ken Johnson and Tom Steffens. Enjoy some hors d’oevres and Janet Burn’s delicious desserts in a fabulous welcoming venue. Doors open at 7pm.


Super Bowl 2019 hosted by Marc and Judy Stettner $20 each 9 spots left

Date: Sunday, February 3, 2019 4pm to game ends

Join us for food, fun, games, $$ to win, refreshments, commercials, a performance by Pink, and, oh yeah, the big game!



Movie in the Barn hosted by Tinkler, Cichon, Light, and Murphy Families only $10 for adults and $5 for kids lots of spots still available for you.

Date: Saturday, August 24, 2019 7pm-10pm

Enjoy a family friendly movie on the big screen at the Tinkler’s Barn in Woodstock. TOLUUC youth will staff booths as fortune tellers, advice dispensers, and face painters. Visit the concession stand for popcorn, candy and drinks.


A Night with Cassandra, Forrest & Friends hosted by Kazluskys, Meyers, Kriegs, Johnson/Jasiota only $10 each. Plenty of spots for you and your music loving friends.

Date: Saturday, April 27, 2019 7:00pm-9:00pm

A great night of music with two of our favorites – Woodstock Community Choir Director, Cassandra Vohs-Demann and TOLUUC Music Director, Forrest Ransburg, and some of their talented friends! Appetizers and drinks are included in the price. A can’t-miss event!

Star Wars Trivia Night hosted by our own Almost Rev. Kevin DeBeck $20 each. 5 spots left.

Date: Saturday, December 8, 2018 7:00pm-9:00pm

The almost Rev. Kevin DeBeck will take on all comers in a game of Star Wars DVD Trivial Pursuit. Come for a night of fellowship and Geekdom! Challenge your nerd wits with the Jedi master – the almost Rev!

Wine and Rock Painting hosted by The Burns Family $35 only one spot left

Date: Friday, February 22, 2019 7-9pm

Join us for a relaxing evening of sipping wine and painting rocks. Take home a tiny treasure to decorate a desk or windowsill, gift a friend, or leave in a public place to delight the finder. At this painting party, no need to BYOB. All refreshments, materials, inspiration, and instruction provided. You supply the wonder and joy. No skill required!


Stories from our Lives- Story Slam hosted by Tom Tipton, Laurie Barnes, and Zena McFadden $20 each 3 spots left

Date: Saturday, March 2, 2019 7-10pm

Led by talented storyteller, Zena McFadden, join us in an engaging evening of entertainment and fun. Food and drinks will be provided.


Party Like You’re a Kid…Again! hosted by Randy Rapp, Sue McCowin, Hannah Rapp and fiancé, Andre $15 each 9 spots left

Date: Saturday, May 4, 2019 7-10pm

Do you remember play-doh? Slinkies? Toy trains? Legos? Hungry, Hungry Hippo? Mouse Trap? Did eat mac and cheese? Fish sticks? Grilled cheese? Weenies and beans? Chocolate milk? Wake up your inner child and join us for an evening of games, activities and foods designed to recapture some of the fun of being a kid. We’ll end the evening with s’mores and singing around the campfire, weather permitting.


Bonfire and Sing Along hosted by Jim and Ivy Sitkoski, and Tom Tipton $20 each 7 spots left

Date: Saturday, September 14, 2019 7-10pm

Enjoy a night with a bonfire, light supper, and a sing along with TOLUUC guitarist, Tom Tipton. A great way to wrap up the summer.


St. Patrick’s Day Party hosted by Nick and Carol Ciccotosto $20 each 7 spots left

Date: Sunday, March 17, 2019 7-10pm

Put on your green clothes, socks, hats, etc. and join us in an evening of Irish food, entertainment, and libations. Slainte!


To reserve your spot call 815-322-2464 or

Payment by cash, check or credit card.




Cookie Walk 2018

This Year’s Cookie Walk is new and improved! As in year’s past, we will have table after table of delicious cookies to pick from and buy by the pound. There will also be breads, pies and cakes to purchase. There will also be  previously loved decorations in our Bells, Baubles, and Bows Rummage Room.  Nothing is priced and our guests take what they like and pay what they can.  New this year is Mrs. Claus’s Artisan Alley Boutique. One of a kind crafts by our community members will be on sale to help you with your holiday gift giving.

Sale begins at 10:00 am Saturday, December 8, 2018 and concludes at 2:00 pm. Look for the blue cookie monster!

Traditional Iced Gingerbread Christmas Cookies with Trees and Snowmen

Notes from the Almost Rev. Kev

Greetings everyone.

The theme for the month of November is Memory, and given that the Holidays are now upon us, many of us will be thinking of holidays past, perhaps thinking of beloved family members who are no longer with us.

It doesn’t take much to trigger a memory—our brains are hardwired to associate all our senses with memory to help us remember things. In the distant past, this was used for survival. If that person recalled that a particular smell happened right before the saber-toothed tiger attacked, or heard a particular growl, then that person was likely to live longer. In our modern sensibilities, sometimes memory can be so strong it’s like you’re living that particular moment over again.

Back in the early 1990’s, I recall a song by Patricia Yearwood titled, “The Song Remembers When.” There are songs that I hear, either on the radio or on my smartphone, that can literally bring me back to an exact place and time in my life. I’m sure you all have those moments too. Where we run into trouble is when those memories can cloud our judgement or perception of what’s happening today. This idea was used for comic effect in one of my favorite Christmas movies, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The main character, Clark Griswold, played by Chevy Chase, spends the length of the movie trying to re-create the magic of Christmas from his childhood. Therein lies the chaos that ensues for the length of the movie. I think this is where many of us get trapped this time of year—we see the past through a sentimental lens and don’t see what’s in front of us, for good and for bad. The uncle that you had a lot of fun with as a child now might be sitting at the Thanksgiving table espousing the latest he heard from Fox News, and it’s hard to maintain your feelings for who they were and who they are now. The question then becomes, how does one deal with this? I believe the best way is to remember who they were, and set boundaries for who they are. And probably change the subject, if possible.

So, in this month of Memory, let’s remember those who are no longer with us, and remember who we are with now because, someday, we’ll hopefully be the pleasant memories for others.


FaithBridge’s 12th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration

Sunday, November 18th at 7:00 PM

Hosted by Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation

Join your Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Baha’i, Muslim, and UU neighbors for FaithBridge’s 12th annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. Living in Unity; Within Diversity All are One. This evening of song, drumming, and unifying words, to give thanks, enjoy fellowship and make an offering for the benefit of others, will be held at Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 5603 Bull Valley Road, McHenry, at 7:00 pm, Sunday, November 18.

A drum circle will be led by Greg Rajsky; bring your percussion instruments! The choir of Tree of Life will participate, and an offering will be requested for area food pantries, and for FaithBridge’s future programming.

FaithBridge Interfaith promotes mutual understanding and respectful relationships among diverse religious communities in McHenry County and surrounding areas.

For more information, contact M.E. Tanabe at, or Rabbi Maralee Gordon at

Unplug the Holiday Machine

Sunday, November 25, 2018 10:45am

The Almost Rev. Kevin DeBeck

Now that the Holidays have arrived, the Almost Rev. Kevin DeBeck will discuss strategies that will help you get through them where you will still like your family members come January.

If Memory Serves Me Well…

Sunday, November 18, 2018 10:45am

M.E. Tanabe

Memory is often a delicate snapshot of past events — colored by predisposition and perspective and shaped by other experiences — frequently, it’s not wholly reliable. …..Sometimes we think of “memory” as something nostalgic, and yet, as the psychologist Rollo May remarks — “ memory is not just the imprint of the past time upon us; it is the keeper of what is meaningful for our deepest hopes and fears.”

Fall FUNdraising Auction Saturday November 10, 2018

Thank you to everybody who participated in our Fall FUNdraising Auction! We had a record number of people attend and blew right by our big goal of raising $16,000. While the final figures are not in yet, it looks like we raised almost $19,000!

6:00pm Saturday, November 10, 2018, Tree of Life is going to be the place to be. We will be posting a preview of the auction booklet soon. Pictured are the great items being raffled off. Drawing is the night of the auction at the end of the live auction. Winners will be notified by phone if not present. There are also several parties available for a set price ( Movie at the Barn Party, Super Bowl Party, Halloween 2019 Party, Barn Party, Wine Chocolate, Cheese and Love Songs Party). Add onto that our live and silent auctions, refreshments and  live entertainment! You don’t want to miss this year’s big event. Movies and pizza will be offered downstairs for the kids so you don’t even have to get a babysitter.

Here is a preview of our 2018 TOL Auction Master Silent and Live so you can plan your bidding. See something you want but can’t make it to the auction? Call Judy (815) 322-2464 and tell her what your highest bid is. We will bid on it for you! You can then pay by credit card when we call you with your winnings!

Watch this video to get a peek at the awesome events you can win at the live auction

Looking for some more information? 815-322-2464 or

Remember to Dream Big; Bid Big! We have set an aspirational goal of raising $16,000 with this FUNdraiser and send 10% of that to Pioneer Center for Human Services to help them build a new permanent shelter for our area’s homeless neighbors. We are already well on our way with the raffle sales. Help us get the rest of the way there by coming to the auction and checking out the great gift items and services we have to offer.

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

Often we think of “memory” as a habit of looking back at the past, but with this month’s Soul Matters theme we’re asked to reflect on this from a wider perspective.  In the introduction to the November packet we are offered these thoughts:

“What is it that takes you back, and where does it take you?”  These may be our most important questions this month.  “What takes you back?” invites us to see memory as having its own volition.  Not a skill we manipulate, but a sacred energy that “wants” something from us, or “hopes” something for us.  And “Where does it take you?”   Well, that’s a big question too.  The space of memory is elusive.  Mysterious.  Seemingly beyond our grasp.  Who can really say “where” it is?   But here’s what we do know: it is in the space of memory that we are somehow held together, and also re-assembled.   As we remember, we are re-membered.  In that space, memories become these self-animated threads that weave the pieces and parts of us into this more complete thing we call “me” and “you.”

When we see memory as a kind of “nostalgia” or “tradition,” we tend to imagine it as something that holds us back and that impedes our being present to life.  But this month we’re invited to explore “memory” from different avenues and broader ways of thinking — maybe even considering it to be “like soil that clings tightly to our roots in order to nourish and stabilize us.”

The November Soul Matters packets offer materials to explore the meaning of “memory” – as we consider how we experience it in our lives and how it is a part of our experience in community.   We use this theme for worship and for faith formation in our RE program and chalice circles.  The Soul Matters resource packet can by contacting the office 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 – there are chalice circle flyers in the fellowship room with information about this program.

Wishing you joy in community,

M.E. Tanabe