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

Wisdom is a funny word.  We often use it interchangeably with the word knowledge.  If you search Pixabay for images related to “wisdom”, you’ll find a lot of pictures that feature books, which certainly does reflect that we associate wisdom with what books have to offer.

And yet, with a little reflection on knowledge, it’s easy to accept that it is acquired by collecting information while wisdom seems to suggest a more internal process that shows a larger understanding and a capability for using knowledge.   

            The March Soul Matters packets offer materials to explore the meaning and possibilities of “wisdom” –  to reflect on how we can experience it in our lives and how it is a part of sharing 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’re gone.   You might also like joining a chalice circle to share your insights and hear what others are saying – you can find information about signing up for a circle  here and there are also flyers in the fellowship room.

Wishing you joy in community,

M. E. Tanabe

Soul Matters at Tree of Life – Being a Community of Resilience

It’s always such a miracle to witness the resilience of Life as it manifests in the natural world  — emperor penguins tending their eggs through the Antarctic winter, flowers growing out of rock faces, and monarch butterflies that migrate for 3000 miles.  We too are a part of the natural world and Life imbues us also with the resourcefulness and insight to nurture our resilience. 

Personally, I consider myself to be a pretty resilient person and I often have faced adversity with a “grin and bear it” strategy…. Bearing up,  soldiering on…. They sound like such a resilient way to pass through an ordeal.   However it now seems, from a more “mature” perspective, that such a strategy was usually creating more challenges than being helpful.  When I use “bearing up” as my default mode for handling difficulty, I can end up not looking with clarity for what might soften the problems at hand.  …. If I’m not looking, it’s less likely I’ll be creative in working on a solution…. and more likely I’ll fail to see a solution even if it sits in front my nose.

In the natural world, Life finds all manner of creative solutions for meeting adversity.  Adaptive evolution is one strategy but there is an endless display of cooperative and complementary forces  — muskoxen tightly gathered to fend off predators, emperor penguins clustered in rotation to withstand the cold…  Being in community is a powerful state for finding nurturing, sustenance, and loving support that buoy us up and help us to “see through” our challenging circumstances… Community reminds us that cooperation can be an effective part of our resilience. 

“[Resilience] is to watch a gathering darkness until all light is swallowed up completely without the power to interfere or bring a halt.  Then in that darkness, to continue one’s journey with one’s footsteps guided by the illumination of remembered radiance.”   Howard Thurman

The February Soul Matters packets offer materials to explore the meaning and possibilities of “resilience” –  to reflect on how we can experience it in our lives and how it is a part of sharing 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’re gone.   You might also like joining a chalice circle to share your insights and hear what others are saying – you can find information about signing up for a circle here and there are also flyers in the fellowship room.

Wishing you joy in community,

M. E. Tanabe

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

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.   As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. (Wikipedia)

For UU’s, any discussion of integrity is apt to include words about wholeness along with the implied personal “goodness.”  And wholeness always embraces how we are put together – including the very important restoration and healing of missing and broken parts.  Looking at the integrity of our wholeness is an invitation to examine the wealth of our inner selves, to recognize what is inherently already ours.

UU minister, Scott Tayler, tells us “the call of integrity is not “Be perfect.” or “Be good.” but “Be yourself!”  Know your center.  Know what makes you uniquely you. And live from that place!  Forget the masks. Forget the “shoulds” and the “suppose tos.”  Just figure out what takes you to that place of deep gladness and to that remain true! This doesn’t mean abandoning the task of doing the right thing;  it just means that you will know what the right thing is when deep joy accompanies your choice.   Integrity and joy.  They are companions on the spiritual journey. “

The January Soul Matters packets offer materials to explore the meaning and possibilities of “integrity” – to reflect on how we can experience it in our lives and how it is a part of sharing 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’re gone.   You might also like joining a chalice circle to share your insights and hear what others are saying – you can find information about the circles here and there are also flyers in the fellowship room.

Wishing you joy in community,

M. E. Tanabe

Being a Community of Awe (and Wonder)

Awe and its attendant wonder carry us beyond ourselves – we experience it as we are drawn to take in the immensity of the cosmos,  the thrill of new life, the solitude of nature, and all that’s truly beautiful.  In such moments, joy arises from our fleeting immersion in a life that is bigger than we are – a life that’s expansive, precious, and somewhat unknowable.

Rev. Scott Tayler observes that  “physicists tell us, contemplation of the vast universe doesn’t make them feel smaller, it makes them realize the larger story of which they are a part.  We are stardust.  From the vastness we came. To be a people of awe is not so much about feeling small; it’s about feeling connected….. And not just connected to the stars, but also to each other.”  Discoveries of research support this observation and reveal that the awe experience is not only enjoyable, it also makes us kinder, more generous, and more healthy.  In fundamentally important ways, finding awe in our lives is necessary for our well-being.  …and the good news is that awe can be cultivated and grown into our daily living.

The December Soul Matters packets offer materials to explore the meaning and possibilities of “awe” – to reflect on how we can experience it in our lives and how it is a part of sharing 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’re gone.   You might also like joining a chalice circle to share your insights and hear what others are saying – you can find information about the circles  here and there are also flyers in the fellowship room..

Wishing you joy in community,

M. E. Tanabe

Welcome to Our Month of Attention

Every month Tree of Life explores a theme provided by Soul Matters. This month’s theme is Attention. We will explore what it means to be attentive and to be a people of attention in our worship services, our small groups, and in our religious education classes. You will find posts on our Facebook page about Attention. We hope you will take a deeper look at Attention with us.

Click here to read this month’s blog about Belonging.