50th Anniversary Carecrow on Manchester Main Street

Our 2019 Carecrow is up on Main Street, in front of Bui Vietnamese Cuisine, 964 Main Street, Manchester.  Check the kids out!

Tour the scarecrows starting Sat. Oct. 12th, and don’t forget to vote. Ballot boxes are located at various places on Main Street.

2019 UUSE Carecrow2019 UUSE Carecrow

October Milestones ~ This Month in Our History:

October 1969: Interim Minister-at-Large Arthur Olsen arrives to provide the “professional leadership” which the members requested at the May Annual Meeting. His first two services were: “The Positive Aspects of the UU Faith” and “Trends in Present Day Religious Liberalism.” In three months in Manchester, Rev. Olsen helped lay leaders make plans to hire a settled minister.

October 1970: The society votes to call the Rev. Arnold Westwood as the first settled minister of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Manchester, after he presents his second service in our pulpit. The meeting was conducted by president Thomas Latham. Rev. Westwood was installed the following month.

Looking forward to other 50th Anniversary commemorations, including:

  • “Turning Points,” a service highlighting important decisions that have shaped the direction and character of UUS:E. October 6.
  • “Looking Back, Looking Forward,” a legacy service. November 3.
  • Affirmation Reunion, December 1 (Thanksgiving weekend). Have you ever been an Affirmation mentor? When? And who were your mentees? Help build the contact list by emailing tammystolzman@gmail.com.
  • Purchase our sleek black 50th Anniversary tee shirts or the beautiful blue mugs, every Sunday after services in the lobby.

Minister’s Column October 2019

Hallelujah!

Dear Ones:

Our ministry theme for October is belonging. Consider this set of questions from the 20th-century Quaker teacher, Douglas Steere:

The ancient question, “Who am I?” inevitably leads to a deeper one: “Whose am I?”—because there is no identity outside of relationship. You cannot be a person by yourself. To ask “Whose am I” is to extend the question far beyond the little self-absorbed self, and wonder: Who needs you? Who loves you? To whom are you accountable? To whom do you answer? Whose life is altered by your choices? With whose life is your own bound up, inextricably, in obvious or invisible ways?

Steere’s premise is correct: “You cannot be a person by yourself.” Yet my sense is our larger society invites us more often than not to respond only to the question “Who am I?” as opposed to “Whose am I?” I feel this most poignantly right now as my high school senior goes through the process of applying to colleges. The fundamental question he is invited to answer in this process is “Who am I?” Similarly with any effort to find a job these days: Who am I? What value do I bring to this workplace? And certainly with the rise of social media over the last decade, people have more and more opportunities to broadcast to the world their answer to the question, “Who am I?”—their brand, their unique version of self, etc. Even in Unitarian Universalism we focus on this question. We contend that each person is free to choose their own spiritual path, their own beliefs. We build our own theology. “Who am I?”

To be sure, it is a good thing to know who we are. But if we only focus on knowing who we are, we risk forgetting where we are from, what forces have shaped us, and how various communities hold us, support us, and send us forth into the world. We risk forgetting whose we are. So, I’d like to suggest an exercise for the month of October. Notice how often you are encouraged to answer the question “who am I?” vs. how often you are encouraged to answer the question “whose am I?” “Who am I” questions will have to do with being your best self, or speaking your truth, or sharing what you are passionate about.

“Who am I” questions will have to do with you as a unique individual. But “Whose am I” questions will attempt to understand you as a member of groups—family, neighborhood, town/city, church, etc. These questions will sound more like Steere’s questions: Who needs you? Who loves you? To whom are you accountable? To whom do you answer? Whose life is altered by your choices? With whose life is your own bound up, inextricably, in obvious or invisible ways?

Please let me know what you learn from engaging in this exercise. I suspect we aren’t invited to answer the “Whose am I” questions enough. That is, we aren’t invited to reflect on and share with others the deeper, interconnected parts of ourselves. And yet we need to be in touch with these parts of ourselves. We need to have the “Whose we are” questions in our lives, because we have no life without them. You cannot be a person by yourself.

As UUs were are well-practiced at asking “Who we are.” But we need to work on “Whose we are.” We do have answers to this question: we belong to the Earth. We belong to Nature. We belong to the divine. We belong to spirit of life. We belong to our wider community. And, perhaps most importantly, we belong to each other. Whose are you?

Rev. Joshua PawelekAmen and blessed be.

With love,

—Rev. Josh

FAQs about our upcoming 50th Anniversary Gala:

Q. I’ve been hearing a lot about the gala. When and where is it being held?

A. The gala will be on Friday, October 4, 6:30-9:30 pm at Georgina’s Restaurant in Bolton.

Q. I’ve never been to a “gala.” What will be going on?

A. It’s a chance to celebrate 50 years of UUSE, and liberal religion east of the river. There will be a short program, delicious food, and music from every decade since our founding. You might even want to get up and dance!

Q. What’s this I hear about a wine game?

A. Our members can donate bottles of wine until the end of September. Guests buy raffle tickets at the party, with each winning ticket holder receiving one of the wines. There are a couple of very valuable bottles hidden in among the rest!

Q. I’m kind of new and I feel like I won’t have anyone to sit with.

A. There are no assigned tables, so you’ll meet people wherever you sit down. Feeling shy? When you pick up your nametag, ask one of the “hosts” to introduce you to a couple of people.

Q. Do I buy tickets in advance?   

A. Yes, you can buy tickets after every service until September 22. You can also call the meetinghouse and buy tickets from Annie. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for teens, free for children age 12 and under with a $60 family cap. But don’t let the price keep you away! Let Rev. Josh know if you would like one of the tickets provided through fundraisers and generous members.

Q. Are children welcome?

A. Absolutely! There will be on-site childcare for kids 5 and under, by advance reservation. Older children are welcome to participate in the full evening with their parents.

Q. I have special dietary concerns. Will I find food I can eat?

A. There is vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free food available. Talk with Lesley Schurmann, the event chair, if you need a different accommodation.

Q. I’d like to come to the party but I don’t like to drive at night.

A. We have members who would be happy to pick you up! Send an email to lesley57@cox.net and we’ll take it from there.

Q. What do you wear to a gala??

A. Anything that feels special to you – from a special dress to your favorite hoodie!

Return to the 50th Anniversary Information Page

Golden Gala – Dining & Dancing Across the Decades

Honoring the Past, Envisioning the Future

Golden Gala

Dining & Dancing Across the Decades
Friday, October 4, 6:30 – 9:30 PM
Georgina’s Restaurant, Bolton

Don’t miss the highlight of our anniversary year!! A delightful evening for young, old and everyone in between! Dinner, dancing and the premiere of Sandy Johnson’s song about our first half-century!

The menu offers vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free options. Buy tickets every Sunday after services from August 4 – September 15. $20 for adults and teens, free for children age 12 and under, $60 household maximum. On-site child care for 5 and under by reservation. Can’t get to church on a Sunday? Email Lesley Schurmann to make reservations: lesley57@cox.net. Let’s celebrate 50 years of Unitarian Universalism East of the River!

FAQ 50th Gala Button

September Milestones ~ This Month in UUS:E History

September 1968: More than 85 people attend a meeting at Buckley School to explore forming a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Manchester. Publicity circulated by Malcolm Barlow and supported by the Connecticut Valley District Extension Committee. Nearly 80 people vote to form a UU congregation.

September 1979: On September 9, the first service in our new building on West Vernon Street begins with a congregational procession and “Prayer for This House.” On September 23, UUS:E holds an open house and dedication to serve the larger community. Those participating included a rabbi, a priest, and protestant clergy, along with other community leaders.

Looking forward to other 50th Anniversary commemorations, including:

  • “Revisiting the Empowerment Controversy,” discussion of Rev. Morrison-Reed’s book about friction between the Unitarian Universalist Association and African American UUs. September 19 at 3 and 7 PM. See article elsewhere in this issue.
  • Looking Back, Looking Forward. A legacy service on November 3.
  • Save the date for an Affirmation Reunion on December 1 (Thanksgiving weekend). Help build the contact list by emailing tammystolzman@gmail.com.

Questions? Ideas? Want to volunteer for anything?? Contact Anne Carr: acarr06040@yahoo.com

UUS:E Common Summer 2019 Read

Revisiting the Empowerment Controversy

In honor of UUS:E’s 50th anniversary, Rev. Josh has proposed a common ‘summer read’ for our congregation: Revisiting the Empowerment Controversy: Black Power and Unitarian Universalism, by UU minister and historian of the African American UU experience, the Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed. This book chronicles a series of significant events in the Unitarian Universalist Association that took place 50 years ago. It is available from inSpirit, our denominational bookstore. To order the book, call 800-215-9076 or order online at https://www.uuabookstore.org/Search.aspx?k=black+power

If you need financial assistance in purchasing the book, please contact Rev. Josh at minister@uuse.org.

Book discussions will take place in the UUS:E chapel on Thursday, September 19. Attend either at 3:00 PM or 7:00 PM. Please contact Annie Gentile in the UUS:E office at 860-646-5151 to sign up for one of the discussions.

Mabon Ritual

Sunday, September 15, 6:00 PM

All are Welcome!

Join the UUS:E Pagan Study Group for a multigenerational ritual of Mabon.

Mabon is the Neo-Pagan celebration of the Autumn Equinox. It is a time of balance of light and dark. It is also for celebrating all we have harvested, in all forms, and for reflecting on what we might still need for balance in our lives. As such, we will be doing a potluck thanksgiving dinner followed by walking a labyrinth. We hope you can join us in the celebration.

If you are planning to attend, please RSVP to Peggy Gagne at pgagne15@att.net or 860-646-6828 to make sure we have enough supplies for all and let her know what dish you might be bringing to share.

Minister’s Column September 2019

Dear Ones:

September arrives and our congregational life kicks into high gear. We return (on September 8) to two Sunday services at 9:00 and 11:00 AM. Children’s religious education classes begin later in September, and our program year commences. And that’s just the beginning. Here’s a brief list of some of the major activities we’re anticipating in the coming year:

  • We continue to celebrate UUS:E’s 50th anniversary year. Please mark your calendars now for our Friday, October 4 gala at Georgina’s.
  • We are launching a new partnership with the Verplanck Elementary School in Manchester. Watch for announcements in this newsletter and elsewhere.
  • Our work continues with the Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance (GHIAA). Watch for announcements about GHIAA’s Monday, October 28 Public Meeting in Hartford. We are hoping to bring between 85 and 100 UUS:E members and friends to this event.
  • Our Sanctuary Team now switches its focus to preparing Rocky for life beyond UUS:E now that a federal immigration judge has granted him asylum.
  • We look forward to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly which will take place in Providence, RI in June—we hope for a large contingent from UUS:E to attend.

I hope you can plug into some of these activities in some way. And, as always, if there’s something missing from congregational life that you’d like to see, please don’t hesitate to speak with me.

****

Our ministry theme for September is expectation. There are many ways to talk about our expectations for our spiritual lives and for our congregation. In reflecting on my own expectations, I notice a tendency to think and speak in terms of an ideal future state. For example, I hold an expectation that, in time, and with much continuing education, I will have learned enough about ministry to arrive at some still-too-abstract level of excellence in ministry. I hold an expectation that, in time, we will achieve our congregational vision. I hold an expectation that, in time, we will become the “beloved community.” I hold an expectation that, in time, we will have contributed to the emergence of a more just and loving society, state, nation, world, etc. My point is that the theme of expectation often leads us to contemplate a future state. What do we expect will be the fruit of our present efforts?

Having said that, I’ve been recognizing during this past summer—perhaps more than ever—that focusing on the future state, though important, can sometimes distract us from the very hard work of the here and now. What is that hard work? Here are a few ideas: 1) doing everything in our power to be as inclusive as possible in our decision-making and programming; 2) centering the voices of those on the margins of congregational life; 3) making sure that when someone says “ouch,” we pause to listen and understand the hurt; 4) making sure that, when we’ve hurt someone, even if our intentions were good, we apologize. That’s a preliminary list. I’ll be focusing on this tension between the future state and the present moment in my preaching in September. I have, as always, great expectations!

I’m looking forward to seeing you soon!

With love,

—Rev. Josh

The Summer Day

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Summer Day

On August 18, the service was based on the Mary Oliver poem, “The Summer Day.” Five people responded to this powerful poem which asks about creation, prayer, and paying attention and ends with the query: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” The speakers range in age from 15 to 87. They are Anya Stolzman, Desiree Holian-Borgnis , Stacey Musulin, Marsha Howland, and Mary Heaney.

Anya Stolzman

What will I do with this wild and precious life? How does someone even begin to answer that? When I sat down to write my response to the poem, I was struck by how little idea I had to even start. It was an intimidating prospect, and I didn’t quite know how to approach it. But, after a little while of intense soul searching, I was able to come up with one general idea to share today:

I want to travel. I want to see the world, to experience its sights and flavors, to learn its love and diversity. The world is a gift, and it has so much to offer. I want to know it’s deepest secrets, it’s narratives and fantasies. Nature’s beauty is precious, in the rainforests where waterfalls crash down to earth, and in the deserts where the sunset paints a scenery full of shimmering gold and rusty orange. In the cities where people connect and feel joy together, the lights winking among the tall buildings, and in silent forests where a thought is the only noise. In the sky and the sea, both shining in the moonlight, deep and mysterious. In the mountains and tundra, crisp and lonely, but steadfast against the horizon. From the darkest caves to the brightest peaks, the world is beautiful. The people in it are beautiful, too. Full of light and hope, and sometimes sorrow and despair, good people are the treasure that the earth hides under its layers, the treasure worth searching for.

Traveling holds a certain magic to it, for me at least. Every time I see or taste something new, or learn a new perspective, I feel like it adds something to me. Traveling is what has shaped me into who I am, and every scene and experience turns into a cherished memory. And traveling doesn’t have to be big or small; even staying in-state can hold the same merit as going across the ocean. Living in Alaska meant a lot to me; I loved the mountain air and the dark mornings and the summers that barely got up to 70 degrees. It was what first gave me a taste of travel in a way that mattered; before that, I had only really traveled when we were moving. What I remember most about Alaska is when the family would get in the car and drive places. Often it would just be a drive to school, or to downtown. But sometimes we would go elsewhere; we’d drive on freeways that swept through forests and led to winding roads that sat between sharp cliff faces and the rolling waves of a river. These roads were special; they led away from the big city, and into long stretches of nature occasionally interrupted by quaint little boating towns that smelled like dead fish (a smell that still stirs some nostalgia in me, even if it is fairly disgusting). We would usually pull up into a small dirt parking lot, at the base of a semi-steep mountainside, ready for a two-hour hike filled with loud singing, and a few times we went to see a glacier, it’s colossal white mass blocking the horizon and looking massive compared to the tiny people that clamored around in the valley below it. And when we left Alaska, we drove across the country for two weeks. Things like that were what initially gave me a desire and love of travel; and New England has much to offer as well.

Going to places like New York is a blast, as its energy is infectious, and going to Wisconsin to see family is always nice. We often go to the shoreline for lobster rolls and to spend the day at the beach, or Harkness Park. And sometimes we spend the weekend in Massachusetts or New Jersey, just for the sake of it. And besides that, there’s so much more to see. I want to visit France, and drive out into the country, where small cottage towns lay quietly between the rolling hills. I want to see the sunset in Brazil, peaking over the crystal ocean, and to see the yellow beaches and tropical rainforests where birds sing together. I want to try fish and chips in England, and I want to hike the mountains in Norway. I want to see the yellow fields in Scotland, and I want to see the Irish dancers in their beautiful dresses and loud shoes. To go to a bustling marketplace in India, or to try the legendary street food in China. To see the old Aztec temples and the current Mayan villages, to talk to the people and learn their stories. It’s my dream to explore the earth, for its nature and its gifts. And that’s how I want to spend my one lifetime; unwrapping the world’s gifts, seeking it’s buried treasure and the map to its book of stories. To know it’s love and compassion, spread by the people it holds dear. I plan to take great leaps forward into new places, like a grasshopper would bound through a field. Because this is one wild and precious life, and I plan on living it while holding the earth and its miracles close to my heart, where they belong. Thank you.

Desiree Holian-Borgnis

What will I do with my one wild and precious life? My answers range from whatever I feel like at the time to, what I planned to do two years ago. I am a planner by nature, but am trying to allow for more spontaneity. I try to look at all the possible outcomes, roadblocks and deterrents to what I want. I live by my agenda and always have a notebook with me…as well as a book to read and at least one knitting project. I worry about the future, money and the environment.

I often think about how I can be more. More successful, happier, a better wife, mother, friend…the list goes on.  If I change jobs will I make more money, be more successful? If I join that direct sales company will I be able to quit my job and be home more? If I do exactly what my Organization board on Pinterest says will my stress and anxiety disappear? The short answer is NO. The long answer is still NO, but there are a lot of twists and turns and self-doubt along the way.

I find myself seeking out the next thing without always appreciating and enjoying the thing at hand. I’ve accomplished something so what is next? I went on my annual camping trip so now it’s all dull and mundane until my next big trip, meeting, or special day. I’m not sure where this comes from, except to blame it on my being an elder millennial who sees everyone’s curated life on a variety of social media and feels like if they can do it so can I. I should be able to sell all of my earthly belongings and travel the world having amazing adventures with my husband and children #thebucketlistfamily. These are people who always seem to be living their one wild and precious best life.

This year I have been trying to go with the flow more. If we wake up on a Saturday morning it is beautiful, we may decide to go for a hike instead of doing our normal grocery shopping and errands. This has been difficult for me as I need to always know what to expect, but with two children things don’t always go to plan and by that, I mean never.

Last year Kevin and I went across the country on a road trip for our ten-year anniversary. We stopped in Lexington, KY, Kansas City, Kansas and finally made it to Estes Park, CO for four days before trudging all the way back. On this trip we didn’t know a lot of places to go and we didn’t have anyone to lean on if something happened or we had questions. We had to explore which is something that I am not used to or to be honest comfortable with. We had a blast and since then it has been my goal to try more things, do more self-care and name things about myself that are holding me back. I have discovered that yoga in a lavender field is intoxicating and singing mantras at the kirtan is a spiritual experience. I have also discovered that driving 12,000 feet up a mountain causes me to have a pan attack. The point being that I tried something new, even though I was scared.

I am trying to find things that truly make me happy. There are some things I know already: snuggling, reading, knitting, watching Real Housewives of …well anywhere. I think that during the survival stage of parenting I forgot that I also really enjoy laying in the grass, cooking, quiet, and sometimes being alone with only the sounds of nature in my ear.

Being in nature is something that has always grounded me. When life gets crazy just put your feet in the dirt. I am trying to do this more. I will do this more. It is important for my body, mind and soul. What else can I do, but the thing that stills me and makes me feel whole.

What will I do with my one wild and precious life? I will fall down in the grass, be idle and blessed and stroll through the fields with my family and friends, finding true joy in life. As long as I have it in my agenda.

Stacey Musulin

(W)hat is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

 “The Summer Day,” describes the act of carefully observing a grasshopper, of paying attention and noticing the actions of that small creature at the same time asking the big questions: Who is the Creator? What is prayer? Why are we here in the world?

Recently, I was skimming through Rev. Josh’s book “Hear the Earth Call,” and an essay entitled, “Our Lives’ Design” seemed to address a similar theme. Here is part of that essay:

(W)e humans have evolved to the point where we are able to gaze out at the heavens and observe our universe; and … that observation… engenders a spiritual yearning in us…a spiritual identity marked by ongoing curiosity, wonder, openness, awe, a desire for knowledge, a passion for truth, and gratitude – deep and profound gratitude that the universe is the way it is, and we are here to bear witness to it. (T)his curiosity, this wonder, this gratitude – is in fact the essence of our lives’ design.

I hear in both Rev. Josh and Mary Oliver’s works that awareness, curiosity, openness, and gratitude are part of our spiritual identity, our purpose, our lives design. We may differ in our individual definitions of God, prayer, or our purpose in life, but we are unified in our noticing, our questioning, and our engaging with the world around us.

(W)hat is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

Is there a part of you that thinks, “I can’t take a whole day off to walk in a meadow to connect with grasshoppers!” (Me too!) There are so many things that compete for our time and attention. We focus on caring for those we love, the list of necessary household chores, the calendars filled with important appointments & meetings, and our overflowing inboxes at work.

The good news is that we don’t need to lie in the grass with a grasshopper to know our lives’ design and purpose. Instead we can shift our attention to focus on the everyday people, places, and things we encounter.

I’m not saying that getting away from it all isn’t important. Summer vacations are important. It helps us reset because it’s easier to feel that “curiosity, wonder, openness, and awe” when we aren’t distracted by our typical “To Do” lists.

However, the best benefits of spiritual practice come if it is something we try to do every day, not just on vacation or when we come to service. What we do doesn’t need to match anyone else’s definition of prayer or meditation. So, DO take the time and lie in the grass with the grasshoppers when you can, but when you are away from the meadow, notice the child, the partner, the neighbor, the bird, the tree, the sky…whoever and whatever you encounter in your everyday life. Really notice and be grateful for the life around you. That awareness can be part of your practice if you choose.

Summer is fleeting. Seasons turn. This cycle of life isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since those changes bring new, wonderful things to notice. Still, some of what we love about life right now must be like the grasshopper: “float away” and often “too soon.”

So, let’s enjoy these August days while they are here…and keep pondering

(W)hat is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

Marsha Howland

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Several years ago, I encountered “The Summer Day” for the first time. I fell in love with it — and especially with that last question.

Not long after, I began planning my memorial service — not as a morbid thing at all, but as a kind of gift to my family and to myself. One of the first things I decided was that a reading of “The Summer Day” would end the service. What a wonderful question with which to leave the guests:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Within a couple of years of deciding this for my own memorial service, I got a call from a friend whose sister had just died after a long fight with cancer. She asked me to recommend a poem to read at her sister’s memorial service, and of course I suggested Mary Oliver’s extraordinary poem. My friend told me it was perfect. And of course, it was.

But of course, the poem is really a call to the living:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

And so, I have to ask myself this question. The answer is very important.

I have never been “wild” in the traditional sense. The “wildest” thing I’ve done recently was to show up at our WUUdstock festival costumed as a hippie. I didn’t win a prize, but damn I felt good!

So, yes, I’m sort of quiet and reserved — on the outside. Inside I have a vibrant imagination that I put to work in my poetry. And that gives me a great deal of joy.

But what about my being quiet and reserved? Have those characteristics held me back? Of course, they have.

Focused on my career — which I enjoyed very much and found very rewarding — I didn’t have much of a social life. And, until later in life, I didn’t acknowledge to others OR to myself that I’m a lesbian. Once I did, I took action, despite believing that as I got increasingly older it became increasingly unlikely that I would find someone with whom to share my life. I got annoyed with friends who kept giving me the cliché, “It’s never too late.”

Well, they were right. My hopeful/hopeless persistence brought a wonderful woman into my life just a bit over a year ago. I was 66 years old.

But my story isn’t nearly as important as yours. Every story is different, of course, and your story can’t be written unless you pick up a pen. That’s why I encourage each of you to look at yourself in a mirror and ask this magnificent question:

“. . . what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

Mary Heaney

One month ago, I celebrated my 87th birthday.

I admit it: I’ve become one of those irritating, annoying elders who persist in admonishing young people with the assertion that “If I knew at your age what I know now, things would be very different!” Way back when I was the victim of this ominous earful, I had no idea what on earth my elders were talking about. Eventually, I learned that this was just another way of saying that “youth is wasted on the young” and that I had a long way to go and a lot to learn.

I came to understand that I must travel my own hills and valleys and follow my own path. That path, tortuous at times, has brought me to the life I now lead. Rather than fate and destiny, I’m a strong believer in chance and coincidence; yet deep inside there’s a sense of the rightness of things, of being precisely where I need to be.

Suppose my son Ted had not moved to Connecticut. I would have had no impetus to move here. Ted would not have met Carol, and my grandchildren (if any) would not be exactly as they are. (Unthinkable!) In an abundance of caution about moving from my lifelong home state, I rented instead of purchasing a home, intended as a temporary measure. Sixteen years later I’m still a renter, the ideal situation for me at this stage of life. I’m here to stay.

Though I was Unitarian prior to moving here, my spiritual home would not have been UUS:E. I would not have known this blessed place or any of you, who have welcomed me, respected me, accepted me for who I am, and helped me through tough times–physical, emotional, and spiritual–awarding me the most joyous friendships anyone could dream of. People here mean what they say when it comes to accepting one another and recognizing every person’s inherent worth and dignity. I am inspired and enlightened by all of you.

Truly, life has never been more settled, contented, or serene.

So, in response to Mary Oliver’s query as to what I intend to do with the rest of my life, why in the world would I want anything to change? I love my life just as it is now. I intend to do whatever I must to keep it this way: to take good care of my health, enjoy my extraordinary family and friends, luxuriate in my passion for books, theater, film, and music, and adhere to UU principles. An Episcopal prayer reminds me to “live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity.”

Yes, this IS my one life, and yes, it IS precious. But I’ve no desire for it to be “wild” in any way. I am at a place where peace is a priority, and I believe I’ve found that peace within myself at long last. And as for being that irritating, annoying elder—I’m working on that!

Quoting Edna St. Vincent Millay: O World, I cannot hold thee close enough!

WuuDSTOCK Party Success

Unitarian Universalist Society: East celebrated the 50th anniversary of Woodstock in our own way: a fantastic WuuDSTOCK party, complete with hippie costumes, decorations, open mic, yummy snacks, a rock band (The Dilemma), beads and flower children. Truly a party of hippie solidarity and peace!

Open mic featured the best golden oldies and the band The Dilemma blew everyone’s mind!