What does hope look like? Emily Dickinson imagined,
Hope is a thing with feathers.
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -…
What is this little bird? Is it simply a balm for the soul or is it a source of courage, fortitude and resolve? Could it be the bright thread that keeps us connected to that passionate “yes”; what’s good, what’s right, what’s possible?
This service, co-created by Samantha McCune and Jeanne Nieuwejaar, will offer reflections on the many rich ways we stretch and grow religiously throughout the years of our lives. We grow through our minds, our hearts and our hands not only in our childhood and adolescence, but through our senior years as well. A particular piece of the reflection will have to do with ways in which the congregation can nurture that growth.
“Kill the Indian to save the man.” That was the motto of the Carlisle Indian School, which in the 19th century became a model for Indian education throughout United States and Canada. The goal of these residential schools was education but more importantly assimilation. As we move into Native American Heritage month, it’s important to hold this history up to the light.
We’ll conclude our reflections on cultivating relationships with a service dedicated to our relationships with those we love that have died. As we watch the leaves don their finery, let go and fall to earth we’re reminded that death is part of the cycles and seasons of life. Death and decay are the source of new life and the cycle continues. This is true for the loved ones we’ve lost and the gifts they pass on to us as well. When we remember them, honor them and celebrate their gifts, we lift up their legacy and the cycles and seasons continue. We continue to grow in relationship with them.
NOTE: Our videographer extraordinaire, Gary Nelson, has agreed to put together another one of his amazing slideshows for this service. You are invited to send a photo of a loved one who have died to Gary at: firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, October 29th. Please include the person’s name and their relationship to you.
Unitarian Universalism is a covenantal tradition, rather then a creedal one. In other words, we don’t ask people to sign on to a particular set of beliefs. We invite people into covenantal relationship. Covenants are simply the promises we make about how we want to be together.
Making those promises explicit grounds our relationships on a firm foundation of mutuality and trust. What might a congregational covenant at NSUU look like? What are the promises we want to make explicit that can ground our relationships in mutuality and trust.
Congregational Meeting to follow the service at 11:45 a.m.
Small groups have the power to weave threads of connection that can deepen our relationships with others and ourselves. Jennifer Revill, Helen Brandt, Judy Putnam, Samantha McCune and Rev. Carol have been exploring a model for developing small groups that promote this kind of listening and sharing. They will share what they’ve been learning and why they are so excited about potentially facilitating small groups at NSUU using this model.
“There is a quality of listening that is possible among a circle of human beings, who by their attentiveness to one another create a space in which each person is able to give voice to the truth of his or her life. There is the miracle of authentic narrative, made possible by listening that holds still long enough to let our truth be told.” Rebecca Parker
The familiar face of minister Ed Vaeni will be our speaker on Sunday, October 10. Ed is retired now but spent many years as both a settled and interim minister. He spent the last ten years of his ministry as a Hospice Chaplain in Dover, NH.
In Ed’s words, “I take it as given that we are living in a time when all of our relationships; personal, communal, institutional, and environmental are being shaken to the depths. There may be many ways or no ways at all to resolve these relational conundrums. But for today I want to return to an ancient Jewish tradition known as Tikkun Olam to see if it can serve in o ur struggle to make and keep human life human. Tikkun Olam may be translated as repairing or mending the world. It speaks to a way of relating to the world that is very different for us post-modern Americans. Let’s look at it and reflect together.”
We’re going to kick off our theme for October, “Cultivating Relationship” with a service dedicated to lifting up our connections with all creatures great and small, especially our animal companions.
Members of the Salem Universalist Church have been invited to join us as we bless the animals. We invite everyone to bring your well-behaved pets to our virtual service on Zoom. We’d love to meet them if that works for them. Everyone is invited to send pictures of their beloved animal friends to Gary Nelson. He will create a slideshow for the occasion. Please send pictures in .PNG or .JPG format to Gary at email@example.com by noontime on Friday October 1st.
Together, we’ll bless them all; our beloved animal companions, both living and deceased, and honor the many gifts they share with us. In doing so we rededicate ourselves to nurturing and protecting the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
This two-part series will explore possibilities for widening the circle of inclusion both as a member congregation of a larger association, the Unitarian Universalist Association and as a particular congregation of people located on the Northshore of Massachusetts in the fall of 2021.