Green Sanctuary and Something Different

Sunday, April 28, 2019 10:45am

The Green Sanctuary and Music Committees have collaborated on a special service to honor Unitarian Universalist’s seventh  principle to maintain and develop a strong connection with mother earth and the web of life.  The musical group, Something Different, will play their own nature- inspired compositions, with Pat Smith and Karen Tlusty-Rissman on Native American flute, John Rissman on guitar, and the whole trio on a variety of unique instruments.  Their original performances draw from many musical cultures and genres and are enhanced with thought -provoking visuals.

Something Different

In Music there is Joy and Learning

Throughout history and on every continent, people used flutes to express experiences, conduct ceremonies, tell stories and unite their people.  The oldest instrument ever found is a flute.  It is estimated to be 40,000 years old and was made from a bird’s bone.  On this continent, Native Americans used the flute mainly for courting, personal expression and ceremonies.  In recent years, the Native American style flute has evolved to be compatible to play with other instruments.  It is now used by individuals and groups, with or without accompaniment.  Its lovely, soulful sound has been shown to reduce stress, promote relaxation and encourage healing.

Something Different is comprised of Pat Smith and Karen Tlusty-Rissman playing NA style flutes and John Rissman, all things with strings.  Together they showcase the versatility of this exquisite instrument with music of the world.  Original compositions draw from blues, ballads, Latin, Middle Eastern and other musical genres.  To further enhance these expressions, unique instruments such as didgeridoo, tank drum, gong, singing bowls (and more) are used.  Listeners are exposed to new sounds and new cultures.

Programs have been cultivated for Celebrating Illinois History, Honoring Native American History Month, Musical Road Trip through the World of Music, Celebrate the Earth and Something Different in Concert.  New songs are always being added making each performance truly Something Different.


Music Links: – Maiden Voyage CD © 2014. – Spirits Rising CD © 2017 – Soul to Soul Interview with the band “Something Different”

Who are we?

Pat Smith – Native American flute, clarinet, saxophone.  In addition to teaching Native American Flute classes and participating in two flute circles, she plays in the Big Ballroom band and the Naperville Municipal Band.  She grew up in a musical home so playing in band and singing with the Purduettes during her school years was natural.  In 2012, she completed the Certificate of Musicianship from Clint Goss’ Flute Haven Native American Flute School.  Her soul sings with the improvisation of the wooden flute.


Adam Reviere, NAF style flute, didgeridoo, world percussionist, recording artist and engineer

“You bring a talented group playing a variety of instruments and you deliver three different voices with two flutes and a string instrument.  Your styles are everywhere from world fusion, classic rock inspired, jazz, etc. You have an awesome sound that is very welcome and enjoyable bringing a cornucopia of emotions, imagery, and color.”

Roz Topolski, Community Engagement Program Coordinator, Vernon Area Public Library

“Thank you for a wonderful performance at our library yesterday. Everyone really enjoyed learning and enjoying the music. Please pass along my sincere thanks to all of your band members for preparing and performing such a great concert.”

Joyful Journey

Sunday, April 14, 2019 10:45am

Put our statement of purpose into action and join us as we celebrate journeying as a family. This rite of passage has become a Tree of Life favorite over the years; our Joyful Journey students will share their first Faith Statements! Come see what our 7 principles mean to our students and take the opportunity to reassess and reaffirm your own relationship to the 7 principles of Unitarian Universalism.

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

This month while looking for an image to represent wholeness, I kept running across the Zen Buddhist enso – like the one pictured here with this blog. According to Wikipedia, these Japanese circles symbolize “absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and the void.” Although there are a myriad possible meanings implied with the enso, when the circle is created with an opening, like this one, it usually symbolizes that the circle (and endeavor) is part of a larger whole and it also encourages the understanding that space is needed to continue growing towards perfection.  When seen from this symbolism, wholeness is both a work in progress and also part of the Life that makes space for it to unfold and be recognized.

            I’d like to share 2 quotes from this month’s Soul Matters packet

We don’t really know our own wholeness until we see the wholeness of another or work to  serve wholeness in our world.  Wholeness, a sense of our own fullness, a spiritual realization of our own strength and beauty, is given when we give of ourselves… We heal our own aches by healing the aches in others.  We put back the pieces of our own souls by helping others redeem their own wholeness.     —  Rev. Anya Sammler-Michael

            You are not a drop in the ocean.  You are the entire ocean in a drop. —   Rumi

                The April Soul Matters packets offer materials to explore the meaning of “wholeness” – 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 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 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

A Sweet Goodbye

Dear Congregation and Friends of Tree of Life,

I am writing this letter to notify you all of my intention to resign my role as Music Director here at Tree of Life at the end of this summer. I have been applying to graduate programs in the hopes of resuming my education with the ultimate goal of completing a doctoral degree in period performance practice and music cognition. I am thrilled to announce that I have been accepted to my first choice school, the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, with a full ride and assistantship. While I am so excited about this opportunity and a wonderful new journey, it will be with great sadness that I will say goodbye to the community here at Tree of Life.

Shortly after I stepped into my position, I stated that I took a job, but found a family. I meant that and continue to mean it to this day. I have had so many wonderful experiences here at Tree of Life and cannot thank everyone enough for your warmth and beauty. I absolutely wish for the continued success of the Tree of Life community and will do everything I can in these coming months to assist in the transition to a new Music Director, so Tree of Life’s vibrant musical community can remain strong and robust.

All this said, I am not leaving just yet and am truly excited to continue on to bring innovative programming and exciting music to all of you over these next few months! Let’s keep growing and strengthening our community through music together!

With love,

Forrest Ransburg

The Plank in Our Own Eye

Sunday, March 24, 2019 10:45am

The Almost Rev. Kevin DeBeck

The United Methodist Church is now discerning whether to accept LGBTQ ministers and congregants. The Almost Rev. Kevin DeBeck will compare what happened at their most recent Special Session of their General Conference to our own General Assembly in Boston 50 years ago and talk about what was learned from both.

Small Step – Giant Leap

Sunday, March 17, 2019, 10:45am

Gina Swinney

We often think of metaphors such as roads or rivers to describe our personal life journeys.  Twists in the road and bends in the river denote times of greatest conflict, joy or personal growth.  But these metaphors beg the question about where it is that we are going.  What is the destination?  What lies at the end of the road or to reference Shel Silverstein, what will we find Where the Sidewalk Ends?

A journey truly begins with one step.  Sometimes we take the same step over and over again without really going anywhere.  Sometimes our steps catapult us to a place we never dreamed. Are you at your spot in your journey because of a small step or a giant leap (or all of it!)

“Healing Our Intentions, Owning Our Impact “

Sunday, April 7, 2019, 10:45am

Jamie Boyce

The journey of healing invites us to clarify our intentions about the life
we crave and the world we wish to create.  On that path we may run into
our tenderness and pain and discover our reactivity towards change. How
do we work with our intentions to facilitate healing, hope and impactful
action that “does no harm’?  

Jamie is graduate of Drew Theological School in New Jersey and serves as the Congregational Life Director at Morristown Unitarian Fellowship in Morristown, New Jersey.  As Congregational Life Director Jamie supports growing the ministries and the day-to-day operations of the Fellowship. Prior to theological school, Jamie served three Chicagoland Unitarian Universalist congregations in Membership Development and Faith in Action ministries.  In her free time Jamie loves to travel the world, learn new languages, and explore vegetarian cooking.    

Am I a UU Because of Jesus?

Sunday, March 31, 2019, 10:45am

Tom Durkin

I was once asked “With Christianity influencing you so deeply, how did you find your way to Unitarian Universalism and what about this tradition appeals to you?” Come explore this with Tom Durkin, Worship Arts Chair of UU Church of Elgin

Let’s Talk About: Medicare for All

Sponsored by the Social Justice Committee at the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation

A panel discussion and Q&A session

Wednesday, March 6, 2019  7-9pm

Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation

5603 Bull Valley Road, McHenry, IL 60050

Panel featuring:

Dr. John Perryman

A board-certified pediatrician living in St. Charles, IL. and practicing in Roscoe. IL.  With a keen interest in business Dr. Perryman is committed to reaching out to community and political groups, businesses, farmers, and labor organizations.

Mr. John “J.J.” Wett

Born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) which deteriorates his voluntary muscles, he has had a lifetime of experience with our healthcare system.  A strong advocate for the disabled, Mr. Wett was awarded the Student Leadership Excellence medal from the President of Northern Illinois University because of his work to help students with disabilities integrate into college and spread disability awareness.  He is currently a licensed therapist practicing in Sycamore, IL.  From 2009 to 2013 and served as Assistant

Mr. Peter Janko

A lifelong activist/organizer, Mr. Janko, has held many roles.  As a child immigrant and war refugee, he worked hard to achieve the American dream.  Now a small business owner he understands the economic impact of healthcare costs on our nation’s industry.  He is founding member of Medicare for All – Northern Illinois.

For more information :

Phone (815)322-2464

Fax (815)322-2739