Every time spring comes around in northern New England you should congratulate yourself and mark it off as a personal accomplishment. Even a mild winter such as the one we experienced this year is reason enough to brag about your stellar survival skills. When Linda and I lived in the cabin we used to rate our winter by how many propane tanks of fuel we consumed. (We referred to it as our “tank-count.”) Now that we are in the farmhouse we have a single 425 gallon tank that will get us through the winter if we’re careful. It means less handling and wrestling with the 22 gallon torpedo tanks, but I do miss the counting...
The regular repetition of seasonal cycles creates a natural rhythm whereby we can feel the movement and transitions of the world around us. No matter how many times we repeat the cycle, we notice both similarities and differences. It’s like stepping back and looking at a bunch of empty propane tanks. At first glance they may all appear to look alike, but if you look closer you begin to see the scrapes, dents and unique characteristics of each tank. Our lives acquire the same unique qualities as we go around the loop each time. We may say, “Oh, it’s spring again,” but each time is significant in itself. Don’t be too glib about the experience. Each day of sunshine and new life waiting to explode on the scene is reason enough to be calmly appreciative of the process. Spring is here!Live every moment, Dave
FROM YOUR RETIRING MODERATOR - Bill White
A thank you to all the members of the congregation for allowing me to be your Moderator for three years and three months. It was a time for much spiritual growth for me as the Church Trustees (The Board) were wonderful friends, encouraging companions, and devoted caretakers of the Unitarian-Universalist traditions at the Houlton church. Thanks to Ann Rheinlander for her valued advice when I first took over. Ann was always willing to offer her viewpoint until I learned to stand on my own two feet, for that I am truly grateful.
The founders of the Houlton Unitarian Universalist Church gave a life-sustaining gift to like-minded spiritual beings in the Houlton community and today we celebrate our linkage to those independent thinking human beings. Like those founders, we are small in numbers but each of us draws strength from our church members who offer support and share ideas. I firmly believe the Church Board is faithful in continuing the wishes of the church founders in assuring the continuation of independent thinking in our spiritual pursuits.
Two important decisions during the past three years stand out in my mind. First is the construction of stairs and railing that provides a safe entrance into Rev. Dave’s office. The construction corrected the unsafe steps and provided a landing that added safe access for all members of our church. The second project was an upgrade in safety of the bathroom. The platform to the front of the commode was extended and a wall barrier in the bathroom was removed. These two decisions, among many others, were outstanding in my mind because it added safety and access to our church. There are many other decisions, such as the preparation of a backdating calendar that helped make monthly planning consistent and predictable, but I will not dwell on them here.
Learning that Rev. Dave is the true glue that holds our church together was a great lesson. Of course Dave is able to do that because his partner Linda, provides quiet support and a true generosity of spirit. My weekly meetings over the past three years were usually at 10:00 A.M., however, Rev. David has been very patient, since I was not always too prompt--I am better known as a night person. Along with doing our weekly planning we had wonderful far ranging discussions on how we can work together; developing stronger, deeper bonds between person and person, group and group, self and reality; Thoreau; Emerson; the rhythm of life; and even the difficulty of making decisions. Thank you Rev. Dave for sharing time and room for growth.
Thank you Fred for your affirmative reply to become our next moderator. Fred will be able to bring fresh new ideas to our congregation. I respect Fred for his faith in human potential and his dedication to the idea we have the power to rise above frustrations if it should happen to occur. I will remain on the Church Board and look forward to continuing working with Fred and such an able and dedicated group.
Now for the most important event that is yet to occur–SPRING! I cannot resist sharing a quote with you -
NOTES FROM THE INCOMING MODERATOR - Fred Griffith
Did you ever think about how Easter and Spring happen at about the same time? The Christian celebration of Easter is set to be the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal (spring) equinox. Both spring and Easter express a message of hope for the future; a message of renewal, rebirth, and the expectation of good things to come.
It is with these thoughts that I step into the role of Moderator, filling the position most recently filled so ably by Bill White. It is my hope for the future that I can serve our congregation as well as Bill has done. He is leaving some big shoes to fill. I do not believe that I would have the courage to do this if it were not for the outstanding and hardworking members of our Board of Trustees.
We have some wonderful events planned and coming up soon. April 17th we will be hosting Castlebay, a wonderful Celtic group from the coast who will fill our sanctuary with a beautiful combination of harp, fiddle, guitar, voices and more. In early May, we will be celebrating the spring with our 3rd annual Beltane celebration with a Maypole dance on the front lawn where we will weave our hopes and dreams for the future into reality.
Right after our Flower Communion service and plant sale, we will jump into our summer activities. Our new WiFi Cafe will be opening, and we will have a bunch of fun activities. Part of the fun will be working together to complete some important renovation and repair work that needs to be done. This will get the church property ready for next year's bicentennial celebration.
There were a lot of great ideas and plans for our Bicentennial generated at our Congregational meeting on March 21st. Renovations and repair are only one part of it. If there is something you specifically would like to do to help prepare the church for the bicentennial, to help with the concert, to do over the summer or any other time of the year, please let me and Rev. Dave know!
What really seems to set our congregation apart from other churches is the sense of community (some would say "family") that we share. For 199 years now, our church community has worked together to share our faith, our joys, and our challenges. By working together as a community, each generation of church members has made our present church community possible.
I rejoice in the blessings we all share and look forward to sharing more with you!
In love and Covenant, Fred
THE MINDFUL MINUTE #43
Can you begin to glimpse your own richness, which is peace and equanimity
Like hamsters on a wheel
they are programmed to lose
destined to feed their addictions
timed to self-destruct
not for God's will
but for complete escape
into a Divine Inferno
Time is wasted and squared
lives twisted and convoluted
creating shells of people
living lives of quiet depression
QUILT RAFFLE FUNDRAISER
Here is a quick update on our quilt raffle fundraiser. To date, the raffle has brought in a total of $543.20. The reason for the odd numbers is that in addition to buying tickets in person, folks can also buy raffle tickets online using Paypal. (Go to http://burbank.mfx.net/~griffith/Leigh/church.htm) Paypal takes a small percentage (thus the odd numbers), but makes it possible to reach people who might never come to Houlton! So far, the most distant purchaser of raffle tickets is from Tasmania!
To refresh your memory, this is a queen size quilt, made by Leigh Griffith and quilted by Lois Morin. The winner will be chosen at the end of this year's Fourth of July celebration. The tickets are $1.00 each or a book of 6 for $5.00. If you purchase them online, you may only purchase them by the book with your account.
To add interest to the activity, we have a challenge from Ann Rheinlander to see how many will match the number of tickets she has purchased so far! She spent $100 on tickets (receiving 120 chances of winning)! She really wants that quilt! Like Ann, you can increase your chances of winning by buying more tickets.
We are still offering the "Book of the Month Club" in which, from now until July, 2010, you can purchase one or more books of tickets each month! Join in the fun! Help the church! The winner will be kept extra specially warm during winter 2010 - 2011!
PLANNING FOR SUMMER ACTIVITIES
At our congregational meeting on March 21st we sent around a sheet which asked "What would you like to do this summer?" This of course was a request for ideas for summer activities. Here's what we wrote on the list.
UNITARIAN CONCERT SERIES
In lieu of the Coffeehouse on April 17th at 7PM there will be a concert featuring Castlebay, a duo consisting of Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee. Castlebay performs traditional songs and music from Scotland, Ireland, England and the Maine coast, on Celtic harp, violin, guitar and 12-string guitar, tin-whistle and Irish flute. Be sure to visit their website at http://www.castlebay.net/.
ORGANIZING A GARDENING GROUP
Hello everyone! We have so many talented gardeners in our congregation that I thought it would be especially fun and valuable to start a gardening group. I'm looking for people to join in, experienced or not. Here are some thoughts: It seems appropriate that we might have our first meeting at the church to discuss and plan the course of events for the new growing season. Some of the questions that need to be answered are how often we will meet, where we will meet, and how broad or narrow our scope will be (we could also keep this very informal). Our first organizational meeting could also include basic discussions on starting a garden and a hands-on experience in starting and transplanting seedlings (if its not too late for that). Future meetings could include additional hands-on experiences as well as book readings in our activities. Personally I am particularly interested in learning about organic gardening, raised beds, soil amendments and greenhouses. I'm not sure how best to proceed but at this point I am looking for input from interested parties. I look forward to hearing from everyone. Al Negri
Editor's note: Discussion is already happening on the UU Houlton Community Yahoo Group list. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/uuhoultoncommunity/
If you are interested in attending a book discussion group during the summer call Bill White or send an eMail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Maybe you have a suggestion for a book or some other idea you wish to share. We plan to read Charles Darwin's book The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms With Observations on their Habits. Reading this book is inspired by the formation of a new Gardening Group by Al Negri. This is an interesting and fun little book (only 148 pages, seven chapters) and not too scientific. After reading this book once again during this past winter I discovered the interaction between our beloved "cluster flies" that appear in the autumn and the life cycle of worms. The topics of interest are: 1) Habits of worms, 2) The Amount of Fine Earth Brought up by Worms to the Surface, 3) The Part Which Worms Have Played in the Burial of Ancient Buildings, 4) Action of Worms in the Denudation of the Land, and 5) The Part Worms Have Played in the History of the World - all topics of interest to the avid gardener as we depend on worms to improve our garden soil to a large extent. Let's enjoy a few evenings as we share our ideas from reading over a cup of tea (or coffee.)
MONDAY EVENING CONVERSATION - Local Living Economies
On Monday, April 26, our Monday Evening Conversation will focus on a DVD of less than one hour that features Judy Wicks at a March 10 lecture presentation in Presque Isle. This showing was arranged by requesting a copy of the DVD from UMPI. It may also be shown on public television at some future date. Who is Judy Wicks? Wicks is an entrepreneur and activist who focuses on fostering the growing localization movement. Localization emphasizes transitioning from an economy dominated by corporations and long-distance shipping to local living economies. Ideally, local economies produce basic needs at home while working in harmony with nature. Wicks is the founder and former CEO of White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia. She has also helped found and chair the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. She challenges the flawed paradigm of continuous growth and addresses how businesses can grow deeper in their communitities to build local self-reliance while creating greater happiness and long-term security. Topic: Local Living Economies: Green, Fair and Fun (Responding to the challenges of climate change, resource depletion, and the global financial crisis.)
Sue Glick will host this showing and discussion from 6-8 pm in the parlor. All are welcome. Bring your ideas for building a more localized economy in our area.
4th ANNUAL PLANT FLING
Our Plant Fling is definitely a tradition. Once again, after our last service of the church year (our Flower Communion service on June 6th), we'll hold our annual plant exchange. You who grow vegetable gardens will undoubtedly be starting some plants indoors. We hope you'll start some extras for exchanging or offering for a small contribution to the church. Or perhaps you'll have some plant cuttings, or thinnings of perennial or house plants. We'll have tables set up outside (or in the basement if it rains) to display any and all that you have to share.
Please click here for the currently scheduled services and events.
WiFi CAFÉ PROJECT UPDATE
Progress continues on the cafe as we move closer to our prospective opening date of early summer 2010! Your generous donations will help us generate funds for acquiring the remaining equipment in order to open the cafe. Please stop by and check it out!
E-MAIL/INTERNET DISCUSSION LIST: UU HOULTON COMMUNITY
An email discussion mailing list is a tool for a group of people to exchange messages via email. Any subscriber to the list can send messages that are received by all the subscribers, creating an email-based group conversation. The UU Houlton Community Yahoo Group has been created for members and friends of the Unitarian Society of Houlton. So far we have 21 members. Please take a look at the webpage. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/uuhoultoncommunity/ If you'd find it useful and wish to join just click the "Join This Group" button, or contact Rev. Dave if you have questions or need further instructions.
OTHER UU ONLINE RESOURCES