Gathered Here

silhouette-of-people-illustration-thumbnailThis past Sunday we had a whole congregation service based on being present together.  For the Time for All Ages we read Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee MacLean.  Following the Time for All Ages we read an excerpt from Thich Naht Hanh’s  You Are Here.  The point of both?  Be present, be aware of your breathing.  Be calm and focused on the here and now.

Can you guess what we did next?

We breathed in and out.

A minute seems like a very long time when you are focused on your breath.

And yet we did and we did it together.  Several times.  You could feel the energy in the room.  And in the quiet, there was the sound of us gathering in.  That sound is very special.  I suspect it is that sound of gathering that is what keeps people coming back every Sunday whether they know it or not.

Then we tried a walking meditation while singing the The Plum Village song I have Arrived which you can hear here.  I say we tried because so many people got up to walk that it was actually hard to move!  What a good problem.  Next time we will move in two circles to help us get going.

Thanks to all.




Tasting Grief and Gratitude

This past Sunday we had a Whole Congregation service led by Rev. Rachael.  It was good to see the children looking interested, sleepy some of the time, alert most of the time, participating in the taste meditation focused on grief and gratitude.  Listen – ding – chew bread – listen – ding – chew bread (repeat 10 times!).  The challenge was to chew slowly and make the bread last.  Many many people lined up to drop a glass stone in the Joys and Sorrows vase.

I believe that children need to learn to sit through worship and ritual that isn’t all about them.  As a teacher I told my elementary school students that one of THE MOST important skills in life is to be able to sit still and look interested even when you are not.  It is my hope that in learning how to sit through worship children will learn to appreciate more and more of the service until one day they too are taken through the arc of emotions the Sunday worship leaders strive for when planning the service.

I am hoping Rev. Rachael and I can work together to do these types of services more and more.  This service was all hers and I was grateful to participate in it and share it with the children.  It was a service that was truly good for all ages.

Our sanctuary had only three seats empty.  Amazing.  To be able to worship with so many is a joy.



This past Sunday was a whole congregation service centered on the UU United Nations Office, the work that the office does and the experiences of Ally (teen) and Kate (adult chaperone) at the past Spring Symposium.  You can check out this year’s Symposium here.  Rev. Rachael reflected on the work that the UUA has done, but also the work that remains to be done.  We were encouraged to take some deep breaths because, yes, there is a lot of work we still have to do.

During the TIME FOR ALL AGES Kate Rice read Intersection Allies: We Make Room for All by C. Johnson, L Council, and C. Choi.  I highly recommend this picture book for families interested in talking about how to be good allies. 

Building bridges between our divisions, I 

Reach out to you, will you reach out to me? With

All of our voices and all of our visions,

Friends, we could make such sweet harmony

During the service children had the opportunity to color in a visual Order of Service which had drawings that related to the different sections of the service, including the Gender Unicorn.  The worksheet shown below was included in the regular orders of service.

Image result for gender unicorn

Stained Glass and RE Votes for our NEW Minister Rachael Hayes

This past weekend was very exciting.  Friday night RE sponsored a sign making, pizza party and Meet Rachael party for all those who were in support of the UUSA marching in the Northampton Pride Parade.  Many signs were made, pizza was eaten, Rachael was able to mingle and meet most of our families and allies.



Saturday, May 4th we gathered, mingled with the Northampton UU and marched about a mile to the fairgrounds.  It was pretty incredible to be part of such a large group of people all feeling the pride, the love and support of each other.  At one point the marchers were funneled into a mass of people and for a moment you couldn’t tell who was marching and who was standing still.  My favorite moment was when someone yelled, “We love UUs.  You are so reasonable!”  After we finished marching the Northampton and Amherst UUs sponsored a table at the fairgrounds and we handed out UU literature to interested people.

Sunday, May 5th Rachael Hayes was in the pulpit.  During her story for all ages she asked the children about our Tiffany window The Angel of the Lilies.  I think it might have been the first time some of the children really looked at the window.  Downstairs we made our own stained glass out of tissue and construction paper and some children chose to color in a black and white I made from a photo of our window.  We talked a little about the window and I asked the children about angels.  We didn’t get very far with that discussion so we’ll have to get back to it.

And we voted!!  I asked the children to vote with markers and if they wanted to list why they were voting yes or no for Rachael to become our settled minister they could.  The result was a unanimous yes!  And upstairs it was a YES too – so – welcome Rachael Hayes!  Go to the UUSA Facebook page to see the post and all of the celebratory photos.



Break Out 2019!

For the fourth year in a row we have held an RE Break Out Service around Valentine’s Day.  This year we kept the same theme.

Here is our Order of Service:  Breakout 2019 OOS

The multi-age groups self selected and tackled their tasks with gusto!  And when the half hour was up we came back to sing and show and tell.  Several people asked that we do more services like this one.  If you liked the non-traditional format please let people who weren’t there know what you liked about it.


Christmas Pageant and Happy New Year!

On Sunday, December 16th we had a parent led Christmas Pageant during our regular worship time.  The Pageant was complete with angels, sheep, baby doll Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the three Wise Men.  The Christmas story was narrated by Rev. Steve and myself and the young actors were shepherded through the play by middle and high school youth.

Thank you to Ashley for making it happen, thank you to all who sewed the costumes a few years ago (they held up really well!) and to Brenda and Rev. Steve for going with the flow.

I wish you all a very happy holiday season and… Happy New Year! 

Sanctuary Activity Finale


This past Sunday we learned a new word – chancel – the “stage” where the choir, minister and musician sit.  We were fortunate enough to learn this term from Rev. Steve who spent the morning with us.  Thank you Rev. Steve.

Since not everyone got to finish their sanctuaries and it is time for us to move on to other topics, the children took their boxes home and hopefully a few will return fully renovated.

The UUSA, thanks to Brenda (our Music Director) and Maura (a parent), is encouraging children to be part of the choir officially once per month during out multi-generational services.  Maura will be leading the children’s choir practice after RE on most Sundays.  This is very informal and children are encouraged to come when they can.  You can hear the music here:  The children and the choir will only be singing the first verse:

Hymn 78 in Singing the Living Tradition; words by Mark Belletini; musical arrangement by Grace Lewis McLauren.

Summertime has turned the starwheel, autumn is upon us.

Sweet the angling sun, sweet upon the air the smell of blue mist rising.

Summertime has turned the starwheel, autumn is upon us.

Glorious the trees, glorious the sight of rust leaves falling, falling.

Summertime has turned the starwheel, autumn is upon us.



Flower Communion and Bridging

This past Sunday we had our traditional Flower Communion and we also wished our three seniors well as they move from high school on to college in a ceremony called Bridging.  The Flower Communion involves members of the congregation bringing in flowers for collective vases and then at the end of the service the flowers are redistributed so that every person walks away with a different bloom.  The children did a wonderful job parading the vases in and distributing the blossoms out to the full room.

At the UUSA Bridging involves rubber gloves, roses with thorns (can you see where this is going?), a book that we (and the parents) think the youth would like and a quick update from the youth on where they are going next.



At this service we also said goodbye to our Interim Minister, Cindy Frado.  We wish her well.

This summer we will be offering childcare on most of the Sundays except when Pancake Breakfasts are scheduled.  This coming Sunday the UUSA will be closed.  Please check the website for updates.

Have a wonderful summer everyone!


Good luck seniors!

Neighboring Faiths

This past Sunday our Neighboring Faiths group pulled off a thoughtful service that filled the congregation with a sense of purpose, pride, love and appreciation.  Thank you to all of the youth for their dedication throughout the year and to the facilitators for helping to make the program happen.  I hope that the RE elementary children could picture themselves up in the pulpit in a few short years and that the high school youth could think back on their time in the program and realize how much they have changed since they participated in the program.  I hope all the adults in the room realized that one of our missions is to help our children develop their faith and feel a sense of belonging in our congregation.

Thank YoUU!


5-20-18 NF Order of Service.docx