NSUUS Newsletter for May

 

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May Calendar

 

Sunday 3 May

9:30 am Poetry Group

10 am Discussion Class

11 am Worship / RE

 

Tuesday 5 May

5 pm Conversation With the Minister

 

Wednesday 6 May

7:30 pm Worship Committee

 

Saturday 9 May

Circle Suppers

 

Sunday 10 May

9:30 am Poetry Group

10 am Discussion Class

11 am Worship / RE

7 - 8:30 pm Teen Group

 

Tuesday 12 May

5 pm Conversation With the Minister

 

Friday 15 May

7 pm Men's Group

 

Sunday 17 May

9:30 am Ministerial Relations Committee

9:30 am Poetry Group

10 am Discussion Class

11 am Worship / RE

 

Tuesday 19 May

5 pm Conversation With the Minister

 

Friday 22 May

7 pm Seminar - "How To Cope With Your Anxiety"

 

Sunday 24 May

9:30 am Poetry Group

10 am Discussion Class

11 am Worship / RE

7 - 8:30 pm Teen Group

 

Tuesday 26 May

5 pm Conversation With the Minister

 

Sunday 31 May

9:30 am Poetry Group

10 am Discussion Class

11 am Worship (Annual RE Service)

 

Wednesday 3 June

7:30 pm Worship Committee

 

Sunday 7 June

9:30 am Poetry Group

10 am Discussion Class

11 am Worship / RE

 

 

Sunday Mornings, 10 a.m.

An open discussion of the provocative New York Times bestseller

Conversations with God. Come and both agree and disagree with the author and

with each other. Hear a variety of viewpoints on this controversial book that

has taken our country by storm. Led by Jeff Bell and David Ord.

 

Men's Group

The men's group will meet at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 15th.

 

How to Cope With Your Anxiety

A Seminar with David Ord and Patricia Stout

Friday, May 22, 7 p.m.

In the Education Building

 

Conversation With the Minister

Every Tuesday Evening

A time of relaxation with fun conversation over a coffee, Coke, or other

beverage from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Location:

May 5, 19 - Laughing Pines, Front Street (opposite Amtrak station), Slidell

May 12, 26 - Abita Brew Pub, town square, Abita Springs

 

Religious Education (R.E.) in May

During the month of May all classes will be very busy planning and

practicing for our annual end-of-the-year service on May 31st.

It has been a tradition in this church, as well as in many other UU

churches, to suspend formal religious education studies for the children

during the months of June, July and August. At the end-of-the-year service,

we celebrate the community of UU youth, "show off" some of what we have

learned during the year, and recognize the dedicated, caring adults who have

served as teachers.

There will be a table set up on the 31st exhibiting examples of

Unitarian Universalist Association curriculum materials used in our NSUUS

program. There will also be books for sale that will help parents discuss

religious issues with their children.

We are asking that parents make an extra-special effort to get their

children to Sunday School EVERY Sunday during May so that they can be an

active part of this service.

Any persons willing to help out during May would be greatly appreciated.

 

Nursery News

Due to the large number of infants and toddlers in our congregation, the

Religious Education Committee feels it's time for some changes in our nursery

facilities and procedures. Some of these changes have already occurred.

Thanks to Liz Bell, the nursery has a fresh, bright new coat of paint. Liz

and Lauralee McLeod also scrubbed up all the toys and "pitched" all items

which had outlived their usefulness. Therefore, we are in need of some new

toddler toys. But most of all, we need some new furniture. We would like at

least one playpen, some large floor cushions and a kiddy divider gate large

enough to divide the room. (We want to separate children who can walk from

those who can't.)

At our last meeting, Terry McGill volunteered to be Nursery Coordinator

for all church functions. Terry has previous experience in this capacity.

The committee agreed that the new plan for Sunday mornings will have one adult

volunteer (from a parent co-op) teamed with one paid teen (age 16 or older)

for pre-service adult-ed classes, through the end of the worship service at

12:15. We would prefer that teens have had babysitting training through one

of the agencies that offer it locally. Babysitting for other events will be

arranged as needed.

Terry is busy contacting the parents of infants and toddlers to set up

the co-op pool. We desperately need a list of names of qualified, child-

loving teens who could help babysit, either on Sunday mornings or for other

events. They do not need to be members of our congregation. Compensation

will be based on current local standards.

If you are in charge of planning a church event that will need

babysitting services, please contact Terry McGill no later than two weeks in

advance or else you may find yourself having to make your own arrangements.

For anything concerning the nursery, call Terry McGill.

 

High School Group

"These times, they are a-changin' . . ."

In an effort to accommodate schedules, youth group advisor Karen von

Zweck is trying out some different times and activities. First of all, teens

are welcome to meet for coffee and discussion following church services every

Sunday. Other activities are being planned by the group as they go along.

For more information or to get your name on the mailing list, call Karen.

P.S. Donations of games such as Jenga, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit,

etc. are being solicited for the teen group. Also, unwanted furniture for

their meeting room is needed.

 

Summer Activities for Kids

Since there is no formal religious education for the children during

June, July and August, we need to provide activities for them during the

worship service. Summer attendance has been so erratic and low over the past

few years that we have decided to have "Funshops" only once a month, on the

last Sundays of June, July and August. These are fun, interactive, multimedia

activities planned by adults in the congregation for children 5 and up. (Four

and under will be in the nursery.) On the other Sundays, we need 2-3 adults

to provide supervised playtime (indoors and out) for kids aged 4-13.

More information and sign-up sheets will be circulated every Sunday

during the month of May.

 

Easter Appreciation

Thanks to everyone who brought Easter eggs--it was a very successful

hunt!

 

The Bards of NSUUS

The poetry group has resumed its Sunday morning meetings at 9:30 a.m. in

the education building. Bring your original poetry to read (if you like), as

well as pad and pen! For more information, call Helen Mayne. All

are welcome!

 

Words on Worship

Many of us like to dream impossible dreams: the Saints win the

Superbowl, an honest politician is elected to office in Louisiana, a Sunday

morning worship service ends at 12:00. We dreamers of the Worship Committee

believe that the last dream can come true! All it takes is an understanding

of the Sunday morning routine and a little cooperation from you!

Picture a typical Sunday: the greeters ring the bell outside the Dome

at 10:50. Pavlovian-like, we all file into the Dome, greet our friends and

fellow UUs, get an order of service and take a seat. At 11:00, as the

greeters ring the bell a second time, David walks to the podium, rings the

chime, and speaks those mystical words of worship, "Good Morning!" In silent

rapture we listen to the musical or choral prelude, which eases us into a time

of reflection. Our announcements are brief and to the point: "X is happening

on Y and for details talk to Z." Our service ends with a postlude at 12:00

and we get to munch goodies, sip coffee or tea, and YAK!YAK!YAK! with each

other before rushing off to a meeting / to a relative's house / to the BEACH /

to the tv set!

An impossible dream? Maybe. Maybe not. Let's try it and see, shall

we? Together, we CAN do the impossible!

Optimistically yours, Yvette Breaux

 

"Let's Give 'Em Something To Talk About"

There's a new format on the horizon for the Worship Committee, and we're

calling on members to help us provide exciting, diverse and meaningful Sunday

services. Do you have an idea for a sermon topic? Or an interest or hobby

you would like to share with others? Do you play an instrument? Write

poetry? Like to read to an audience? We're looking for hidden talent!

If you would like to share with us the challenge of crafting insightful,

spiritually meaningful, enjoyable services, then join us on the first

Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the church office. Our meetings are

open: come as often as you'd like or become a regular member. Either way,

we'd love to welcome you!

But Wednesday night is when your can't-miss tv show comes on and you

haven't yet figured out how to program the VCR? Or the night you serve as den

leader for 15 Cub Scouts? Not to worry--we can still use your input! Share

your ideas with David or a committee member (Yvette Breaux, Liz Bell, Lois

Thornton, Martha Lempke, Janice Boyd, Keith Pederson, Peter Van Duym, Dick

Harris) and we'll take it from there. Let's talk!

 

Leadership School

The ninth annual Dwight Brown Leadership Experience (aka the lay leader

leadership school Beth Alston went to and talks about so much) will be held

this year July 11-18, 1998, at Austin College, Sherman, Texas, north of

Dallas. Rides from Dallas Love Airport and DFW Airport can be arranged. For

questions, you can call the district office at 817-446-0099 or 800-793-7062.

This year's committee chairperson and dean is Kathy Calhoun of Dallas.

 

Family Church Camp

What is SWUUSI? According to the SWUUSI website www.swuuc.org ,"the

Southwest Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute is the Southwest District's

annual extended family gathering at Lake Texoma State Park and Resort.

Together we explore, learn, relax and worship. For many of us, it is a truly

spiritual experience; others develop or extend their Unitarian Universalist

identity. The resort is located on Highway 70, twelve miles west of Durant and

four miles east of Kingston, Oklahoma, near the Texas border. The telephone

number is 405/564-2311. Pool and lake swimming, boating and skiing, fishing,

tennis, golf, horseback riding, archery, and bike trails are available. There

is a landing strip on the resort grounds for small aircraft. We suggest that

you bring lightweight, comfortable clothing, comfortable shoes, and sun

protection. A blanket, mat, or lawn chair is useful for the Sunset Talks."

Circle Supper

The next Circle Supper is scheduled for Saturday May 9th. There will be

no Circle Suppers during the summer, but they will resume in September.

Contact Judy Smith for information.

 

Family Brunch

The Family Brunch will be held on Saturday, May 16, 10 a.m., at the home

of Carolyn Monteith. Call Carolyn for information & RSVP.

 

Interested in Homeschooling?

A local homeschooling support & resource group is starting. Planning

meetings will be May 3,17 & 31 at 12:30 in the parlor. This group will be

open to non-NSUUS members so please tell interested friends. Call Toni

Eastham, or Lauralee McLeod for further info.

There will be a Homeschooling Unitarian Universalists and Humanists

Newsletter to share resources, to support each other and children. To

subscribe send $12 to Mary Marsh, editor, 2095 Firelane Road, Bellingham, WA

98226 (email: Marsh@telvar.com) with your name, address, state, zip and e-

mail address if existing. There will be an e-mail chat list for those on

line. To subscribe, send a message to listproc@uua.org with "subscribe HUUH-L

your name" in the body of the message.

 

Reading by Terry McGill

Following is the text of a reading done by Terry McGill at the service

on 12 April 1998. It is being printed here by popular request!

 

Recently, I was sitting in my friend's garden with a crisp, spring

evening breeze swooshing through the tall, swaying pine trees and rustling the

dead leaves that were lying about our feet like a lap blanket that had slipped

down to our ankles. The diminishing daylight chased across the ground as

though anxious to catch each blade of grass one last time before the fall of

the night's curtain. Crickets and frogs sang their evensong and nostalgia

washed across my face in self-evident rumination.

We were languorously lounging upon antique, wrought-iron garden chairs,

casually discussing death and birth. With the advent of spring, a description

of the intricate developments of the garden were lovingly recited. The death

and removal of some pine-beetle terminated pine trees was an untimely demise

that gave birth to a more fragrant and sun filled garden, to charm the meager

strands of grass to grow. The antiquated and established garden of the

previous occupant was half in death, of old plants that have not survived

winter's shroud, and half in birth of the new arrivals, freshly planted by my

friend.

Comfortable conversation lapsed into companionable silence and I

reflected upon these stages and events we recognize as birth and death . . .

the Alpha and Omega . . . the beginning and the end. I paused within myself,

in a moment of internal astonishment, to realize that my life has been

comprised of a multitude of births and deaths.

Like the showering away of dead skin cells, the many births and deaths

of my life have spiraled me into a shiny and taut coil of the inner, true me.

Each moment of realization and growth reflect both death of the old self, with

outdated and dysfunctional precepts and behaviors, as well as birth of my new

self, incorporating together all that I once was and now find new within me.

There have been, thankfully, a multitude of deaths in which I rejoice.

The death of the vise-grip of fear that once trapped me in abusive personal

relationships. The death of torturous thoughts that beleaguered my mind into

a frozen world of inaction. The death of a personal attitude about myself and

how I fit into the world.

With these deaths have also come corresponding births. The birth of

knowledge and belief in my own personal self worth. The birth of ambition and

motivation to achieve my heretofore unbelievable dreams. The birth of

acknowledgment as to how I fit into the world . . . my world.

I have witnessed and participated in the various births and deaths in

the lives of those I care most deeply about--my children. Their "births and

deaths" as they have grown from dependent children to self-reliant women has

been one of the most inspiring and fulfilling aspects of my own growth. The

many witnessed stages of birth and death that my children have grown through

have encapsulated the whole of human experience that solidly confirms the

cycle of birth and death.

With growth, there is pain, so I am told. With growth, there is both

death and birth. Life, with the myriad of traumas and ecstasies we each

experience, continues the spiral of death and birth.

 

Poetry Corner

 

Unzipped

 

Not yet available.

 

 

Reflections

David Robert Ord

 

What qualifies a person as a bona fide Unitarian Universalist?

A Roman Catholic book entitled Separated Brethren states that perhaps

one Unitarian out of a hundred "has actually affiliated with" a Unitarian

Universalist church. This means there are lots and lots of Unitarian

Universalists in St. Tammany Parish who aren't a part of NSUUS and likely know

nothing about us.

This statement couldn't be made about any of the traditional churches,

whether denominational or nondenominational. The reason is simple. Members

of such churches are taught their beliefs and practices by those churches.

But at the North Shore Unitarian Universalist Society, each of us have our own

beliefs and live according to the dictates of our individual consciences.

Certainly one thing that qualifies a person as a Unitarian Universalist

is a refusal to be unthinking, unquestioning, and uncritical. We value

freedom of conscience. Consequently, we come not to learn a faith, but to

develop our own faith in an atmosphere of mutual inquiry.

If someone asks me whether I am an orthodox Unitarian Universalist, my

reply is, "I hope to God not!" For the moment we think there is an orthodox

way to be Unitarian Universalist, we have lost what it is all about.

One of the great strengths of our Unitarian Universalist movement is

that we like to hear and consider many different points of view. And that

means that no single one of us is going to like everything that we hear, or

approve of everything that happens, at NSUUS. If we did, we would no longer

be Unitarian Universalists!

We would have real cause for concern if we all agreed on our ideas and

didn't have different opinions of how things should be done. Disagreement,

sometimes to the point of a real dislike of certain ideas or ways of doing

things, is healthy.

Rocking the boat is a vital part of Unitarian Universalist life. We

should never be concerned by a rocking boat. It's when it's not rocking that

we ought to be concerned.

If we ever close ourselves off from new ways of thinking, new ways of

doing things, or new goals because these things trouble us, we are in danger

of no longer being bona fide Unitarian Universalists.

Let us welcome into our society all who are seeking truth, who cherish

freedom, and who challenge us in fresh ways. Let us welcome disagreement.

And let us welcome the reality that, as a diverse group, we will never agree

on what to believe, or what to do . . . and find in our differences our

strength.

 

 

NSUUS Newsletter for April



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April Calendar
Wednesday 1 April
7:30 pm Worship Committee

Sunday 5 April
10 am Discussion Class
11 am Worship / RE
noon Souper Sunday

Saturday 11 April
Adult Let's Go! Crescent City Classic

Sunday 12 April
10 am Discussion Class
11 am Worship / RE
noon Easter Potluck
7 - 8:30 pm Teen Group

Sunday 19 April
9:30 am Ministerial Relations Committee
10 am Discussion Class
11 am Worship / RE
6:30 pm Book Club

Monday 20 April
7 pm Board Meeting

Friday 24 April
7:30 pm Seminar - "How to Be Yourself Around Others"

Sunday 26 April
10 am Discussion Class
11 am Worship / RE
7 - 8:30 pm Teen Group

Sunday 3 May
11 am Worship / RE

Wednesday 6 May
7:30 pm Worship Committee
Getting to Know You
As I look out on the congregation on Sunday mornings, I see more and more people who are becoming well known to me. Yet I also see some whom I do not yet know at all, other than to have said "hello."
If you attend North Shore services and I have not yet got to know you, I want you to know that I very much want to. I want to know every member and friend well.
The delay is, however, not without significance. What I always longed for in the ministry is now happening at NSUUS, and that is that more and more people are responding to sermons and classes by coming to talk to me about how the information might work in their lives. Nothing could be more rewarding, because learning to live life to the fullest is what we are all about.
Little by little, I am calling on people. In the meantime, if you want to talk, all you have to do is call me. I'm always glad to hear from people and set a time to get together. Growing in numbers as a church is exciting. But what excites me far, far more is when people are serious about growing spiritually. This is what makes everything worthwhile. This is what I see happening at NSUUS.
A Seminar: How to Be Yourself Around Others
David Robert Ord and Patty Stout
Friday, April 24, 7:30 PM
As infants, we're hedonic, swimming dolphin-like in a seat of delight. But the more this hedonic condition strives to become conscious as we grow, the more there enters a note of deprivation.
The coming of consciousness is at once the awakening to a limitless possibility, and a withdrawal of that promised glory. The state of being "in love with life" becomes tarnished, layered over with anxiety about ourselves.
Anxious about ourselves, we're afraid to be ourselves with any real conviction. Especially around other people! Instead of embracing life's hugeness of possibility, we shrink back, sheepish, afraid to love ourselves unabashedly and live our lives fully without apology. How did we become so disabled? And how can we find ourselves in all of our fullness, so that once again life becomes an ecstatic and grand adventure?
Background Reading for Sermons and Classes in April
If you like reading, and you'd like background information on the topics that will be covered in upcoming sermons and classes, the following is a list of thought-provoking books. With a little notice, most of these can be obtained through public libraries.

The presence of these books on this list does not, of course, mean that I agree with their ideas. But they form a useful basis for discussion.

Not every sermon in a month is necessarily on the issues highlighted by these books, though they represent the main thrust of sermons and classes for the particular month.

April: A look at death, resurrection, and reincarnation--to coincide with Easter
The Presence of the Past - Rupert Sheldrake
Fire in the Mind - George Johnson
Conversations with God, Books I and II - Neale Donald Walsch
Reincarnation - Paul Edwards
God, Christ, Church - Marjorie Suchocki
Eternal Life? - Hans Kung
After Death
Music of the Mind
Sunday Morning Classes for April
Education Building
10 AM
A Discussion of the New York Times bestseller Conversations with God, Book I, by Neale Donald Walsch
Led by David Robert Ord and Jeff Bell
These classes will be open discussions of the book, not lectures
April 5, 12, 19, 26
Coffee Hour Needs List
1 - Some cookies for coffee hour
2 - Napkins
3 - Powdered creamer (prefer individual packets)
4 - Paper towels
Label any contributions "For Coffee Hour" and leave them in the church kitchen.

Sandy Zerr, 626-4317
Capital Campaign Committee
Following the congregational vote favoring property in a different location for new NSUUS facilities, the CCC met for its initial session. The central purpose was to start the process by reviewing the guidelines of the Unitarian Universalist Association. It was recognized that most churches take three to five years to complete a campaign, involving a process to consolidate a vision with realistic means. Especially important is the continuing need to involve members in this process. More to come! Attendees were Dick Harris, Bob Branson, Jim Burton, Gay Chavez, Mary Wittaker, and Sue Rountree. Please ask any of them for details, suggestions, etc.
Religious Education (RE)
Snacks/juice needed - Please send in some "keepable" snacks such as pretzels, sealed peanut butter crackers, raisins, cookies and juice mix for the children's snacks. Thank you.

Teen (Sr Hi) Group - The senior high kids meet on the second and fourth sundays from 7 - 8:30 p.m. in the RE Building. Bring a friend and join us for great conversation and new friendships.

Coming of Age - Many UU churches provide a year or semester-long Coming of Age program for junior high age youth. These programs cover a wide range of disciplines (values clarification, conflict resolution, self-identifying activities, art, music, and recreation). We would like to start one here next year. Anyone interested in helping design this program to meet the specific needs of NSUUS kids (with a lot of help from programs from other churches), please contact Carolyn Burns.

Children's Charity - The children have been donating money during our chapel service each week. At the end of the year they will decide what good work to do with their savings (which should be around $150). Please start discussing this with them so we can have some good, practical suggestions.
DONATIONS ? ? ? ?
Where are the donations? It seems that everyone is waiting until the last minute to acquire donations for our auction. This makes it extremely difficult on the volunteers who have so graciously agreed to work on this important project. Do not think that the auction is far, far away. The time to get donations is NOW!
Easter Potluck
Bring yourself, your family and friends for an Easter potluck luncheon after services Sunday April 12.
Celebrate the joy of the season by sharing a feast with your NSUUS family. Bring a dish for 10-12 people. Weather permitting we will dine "al fresco," outside in the glorious spring. If the weather is a problem, we will dine "in time," indoors, cozy and comfortable. A "help" sign-up sheet will be circulated the Sunday prior, so please sign up to help with the tables and chairs, providing drinks, arranging food, utensils, etc., and with the cleanup afterwards. Mark your calendars -- come to the Easter feast!
Let's Go!
Adult Event -- Crescent City Classic, Saturday 11 April, call Terry McGill.
Family Event -- Zephyr's baseball game! A schedule will be on the table next to the coffee pot in the Dome -- sign up for the dates you are most interested in, and we'll select the most popular one.
Black Creek Canoe Trip - June 6
Due to scheduling problems, our spring Black Creek canoe trip in Mississippi has turned into an early summer one! (It should make the swimming by the sandbars even more fun.) I have reserved the date June 6th, and 15 canoes. Mark it on your calendar now! I will not start collecting money until next month, but wanted to get the date out now. Last year we had 22 canoes . . . I can imagine getting to 30 or more this year! For those who have not been before, cost per two-person canoe is $22 for aluminum, $25 for plastic. Additional person per canoe (nine years and over) is $5; eight and under free. Look for more details in the flyers at church, or in next month's newsletter. Fun, fun, fun!
See an Elf or an Orf Lately?
Some people might think there are a cadre of elves who keep our church going. But I know of at least five - and I'm sure there are more - sightings of ORFs. (Old Retired Fa- ah, Fellows). I have heard reports of ORF Peter van Duym rebuilding the benches a few months ago. And ORF Bob Branson cutting the grass. ORFs Tom Watkins and Dick Harris have just recently spent days washing the Dome (including the roof!) in preparation for sealing the leaks. And ORF H.K. Webb is spending so much time at the Courthouse researching land records that the word is out he is a real estate tycoon. The truth is, we have many other unseen hands at work in our congregation in addition to our ORFs. No, things do not happen by magic . . . or by elves . . . while some of us are at our jobs during the week. So, here's a big THANK YOU to EVERYONE who works so hard to keep our church community thriving.
Circle Suppers
Our next Circle Suppers are April 11. If you need info about participating, please call Judy Smith. (Judy will be away April 4-11, so if you know you are unable to attend, please give her a call as soon as you know.) This is a great way to get to know your fellow UUs - by participating in a coordinated supper of approximately eight people at someone's home.
Souper Sunday!
Souper Sunday will be on April 1st. Please come by the R.E. Building after service to enjoy a bowl of delicious soup. Our volunteers work hard to cook up a sumptuous delight for your enjoyment. The cost is $1.00 a bowl and free to new visitors.
Rev. Mauldin's New Book Available Soon
Former NSUUS minister Jane Mauldin's book of meditations Glory, Hallelujah! Now Please Pick Up Your Socks will be available in May for only $7.00 from Skinner House Books. From their catalog: "Wisdom comes not just from lessons learned at school, but from every crook and corner of our lives-while we're at home, in the woods, or even in unexpected places like a doctor's waiting room or a luncheon buffet. In this witty yet wise collection of meditations, Jane Mauldin pays tribute to the ordinary and sometimes surprising events that give us new ways of understanding and being in the world. Nourished by this wisdom, she offers us her own version of spirit and soul. Part of the UUA Meditation Manual series."
Skinner Press can be contacted at (800) 215-9076 or online at www.uua.org/skinner.
Book Club
The next meeting of the Book Club is at the home of Janice Boyd in Slidell, at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 19th. The book to be discussed is The Beak of the Finch: a Story of Evolution in Our Time by Jonathan Weiner. If you are interested in the topic, please come, even if you were not able to read this book. Please bring a snack to share.
The next book, planned for June 7th in Covington, is Angela's Ashes, a memoir by Frank McCourt about life in Ireland. The group plans to meet in Mandeville in July to discuss Down the Common: a Year in the Life of a Medieval Woman, a novel by Ann Baer.
Integrative Breathwork
Coming soon at our church - don't hold your breath! Monthly workshops, beginning in May, with certified facilitator Patricia (Patty) Stout, BCSW. These workshops will include loving group process, inner journey work using deep breathing, evocative music, and expressive artwork (no talent necessary!). This work is done in a context of sacred purpose and teachings of psycho-spiritual integration. The inner journey is a form of "active meditation," an invigorating alternative to, or complement to, quiet meditation. Breathwork is a powerful tool for personal and collective healing and transformation. It is a truly holistic experience, involving opportunities for bodywork, emotional process, mental shift, and spiritual insight - in the context of supportive community. Since 1989, it has been the most important tool I have used in my own growth, and I have watched my husband, friends, and clients being richly blessed through it, so I am committed to providing it to others. Since it meets you where you are (or rather, you meet yourself), it works well for people at many levels of spiritual/personal growth, just beginning, or "seasoned travelers."
The practice of breathwork is based on several ancient mystical paths and in tenets of transpersonal psychology, which is a spiritual psychology as opposed to ego-based. The word "transpersonal" means across personal boundaries and refers to our identification with not only our personal body/mind, but beyond that to awareness of being a part of the whole, and of containing the whole within us (as in a hologram). You do not have to subscribe to this or any belief to do breathwork; it's simply that participants often have this experience. People may have a belief (head knowledge) of this connection to all that is and to our inherent divinity, and breathwork is one way that many people have had a direct experience of this belief.
Breathwork is a self-led and empowering journey, in keeping with the Unitarian ideals of seeking truth for oneself. In this work we honor and learn from each individual's inner experience. We don't try to define the mystery for others, but we claim our understanding of it, leaving room for this to evolve over time. In this way, it is Universalist as I understand it.
Breathwork is deep inner work, sometimes hard work. Integrating all parts of ourselves is a hero's task, an ongoing task, a monumental task! But this leads to the intimacy with self and compassion for others that we seek - and it can be fun and exciting, too! Even blissful! In fact, some people say they keep coming back to work on their "bliss tolerance." Also I believe we do this work/play (and any similar work) not only for ourselves, but as a cell in the larger body, and as part of a cultural paradigm shift that moves us away from dualism, fragmentation, and separatism, and into an integrated sense of wholeness.
Hopefully, in doing this work in a group that includes others from our church, we may deepen our spiritual connection and perhaps gain group consciousness regarding our evolution as a church.
Details:
1. Sessions will last about five hours, plus one hour of orientation at the beginning of your first session.
2. People are welcome to attend as few or as many sessions as desired - each will stand on its own.
3. Dates and times - To be explored (and approved by the church). Tentatively, one Saturday or Sunday a month. Perhaps Saturdays 1 - 6 p.m. would work? I am open to suggestions on this.
4. Finances - In addition to rent paid for church use, an offering will be made to the church on a percentage basis.
5. Fees - Sliding scale, with a suggested fee of $20 - $35 per session. (This is a reduced rate.) Additionally, church members/friends are welcome to 25% off any workshop I offer elsewhere.
If interested, call me or give me your name, address, and phone number when you see me. I will probably give an introductory talk on this before May if the interest is there. Thank you, and remember to BREATHE!
-Patricia Stout
Poetry Corner
Birdsong at Dawn
While flashing through some old color slides
I suddenly saw my mother's grave
on the white wall, newly
filled, covered with baskets that
lay low on the cold crumpled earth,
their fading flowers sagging into the soil.
My father, arched above it
sought tears he could not summon,
his body bent a question mark.
O, why didn't I go first?
She had more stamina for sorrow.
While my sister, head bowed to her breast,
sought the solace of solitude within the
folds of her coat, I reached to
console, my sorrow submerged, so I
could help them to bear theirs.
Now, through blurred images,
old memories rushed out of corners like
children playing hide and seek.
Yet there on the white wall was
an image I had not seen that long gone day.
A meadow lark, head held high in song,
sat on her sunlit stone.
Had her searching soul, eager to find new
berth, become the bird's essence,
its lyric call her song of release?
Perhaps this is why I listen for birdsong at dawn,
enfolding my soul in music to welcome
the promise of morning, as
the daystar of heaven
erases the sleep
from her
eyes.
Helen Mayne
Reflections . . . David Robert Ord

After the March 9 sermon, "Life Is a Whodunit," a question was raised about entropy. Is the cosmos subject to the second law of thermodynamics?
The sermon focused on the emerging order in the universe. From simple molecules to the genius of the human mind, higher and higher states of organization of matter are emerging in the universe. There has been a progression from the simple to the complex, and from the diffuse to the centered. The closer we look, the more we see patterns everywhere--so much so that physicist Stephen Kaufman suggests that far from being an accidental result of chance, which would be highly unlikely to be repeated if the universe evolved afresh, humans might be "expected." Order, he suggests, emerges for "free," according to complex arrangements of pattern-forming laws that undergird matter.
But how do we get higher and higher states of order and organization, given that the second law states that everything runs down?
What science will discover about the ultimate future of the universe is still in flux; a major paradigm shift seems to be occurring at present, and in only recent weeks it has been reported that experiments are indicating that there is an anti-gravity force that appears to be pulling the galaxies apart. But regardless of the ultimate future of matter, where thermodynamics may reign supreme, in the interim a great deal of pattern-forming and organization is taking place.

It's not a lot different from our own lives. From the moment of birth, we are on a journey toward death. Our body systems will ultimately run down. But in the meantime, we grow and develop into incredibly complex beings, live exciting lives, form intricate webs of social connections, and accomplish a great deal creatively. The fact that, physically, we ultimately lose doesn't stop the pattern-forming along the journey.
It's a question of the plane we're thinking on. Newtonian physics are great for constructing buildings on our earth, but they are insufficient when it comes to the vast canvas of the galaxies, where Einsteinian physics come into play. But Newtonian physics function very well, thank you, within the limited framework of our world, where the curvature of space isn't all that relevant to our everyday lives. And so does the emergence of patterns of complexity, regardless of the final fate of the universe if it is ultimately in the hands of the second law.