January 7 – Destruction and Beginning Again
It’s a new year, time to reflect on who we are and where we’re going. We make plans and hope for new and better things to come, but sometimes life gets worse, at least for a while. In the Hebrew Bible, God cleansed the world with a great flood with the idea that the new life would be better than the old. This didn’t work very well, but that and other flood stories bring us wisdom about starting anew when it seems our lives have been destroyed.
December 24 – Happy Holidays!
December 17 – What It’s All About Is Love
December 10 – Respect, Rights, and Recovery
December 10 is Human Rights Day. In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on this day. The first Unitarian Universalist principle is respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person. For us to be in recovery as individuals, we must respect ourselves and our rights to love, dignity, and kindness. We also need to treat others this way. Recovery for the world – recovery from our greed and violence – means we must respect, care for, and honor the rights of every person, regardless of what they look like, whom they love, or even what they’ve done.
December 3 – Waiting for All Good Things
The Religions of the Book – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – hope for a time of joy and prosperity, when “the mountains and hills will burst into song” (Isaiah 55:12) and “all the ends of the earth will see God’s salvation” (Isaiah 52:10). This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, a time of spiritual reflection and celebration, of journeying through darkness with the promise of all good things to come. Recovery is a little like that. We move through darkness, wrestle inside ourselves with confusion and despair, only to find that joy exists and love abounds. Not that we will never suffer again, but as we heal, hope becomes easier to find.
November 26 – All the Little Deaths
Around this time of year, the rains usually start in earnest. Leaves fall, annual flowers wither. The cycle of life and death becomes obvious. How do we cope with being alive and having to die? What losses do we experience on the way to that one big loss of leaving the earth and our bodies? No one knows for sure what death is like, yet sages past and current remind us that the more we prepare for our deaths, the more alive we become.
November 19 – Gratitude
As Thanksgiving approaches, we think about what we’re thankful for. When we pay attention to our blessings, we enhance our physical and emotional health and support our recovery. How lovely that such a simple action should make such a big difference in our lives.
November 12 – Resilience in the Face of Fear
As fear grips our nation, leading to insane politics and violent acting-out, many of us feel uncertain, off balance, and anxious. How do we cope with our own fear and the fear that others project on us? What is resilience, and how can we increase our own capacity to be resilient?
November 5 – Humility and the Exalted Ones
This Sunday’s lectionary reading from Matthew includes this line: “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.” What does it mean to be humble, and how does that lead to exaltation? If excess pride is a barrier to recovery, what about exalting ourselves?
October 29 – Inviting Magic into Our Lives
As Halloween approaches, let us take some time to think about magic, about what magic means to us, and how we can invite the magical, mystical, and wonderful into our lives and our recovery.
October 22 – Finding Peace in the Midst of Change
During the fall, we witness change in a direct and poignant way. Our lives are always changing, physically and spiritually. Change can be uncomfortable, especially when it feels sudden. As the rate of change in our world increases, how do we find equilibrium How do we fine peace of mind and heart?
October 15 – The Impact of Historical and Generational Trauma
On this Columbus Day, or Indigenous People’s Day, we once again hold a White Supremacy Teach In with a little bit different focus. We will explore what generational and historical trauma are and how we, personally, are affected by them. How do we help one another heal from these sorrows and pains?
October 8 – Healthy and Unhealthy Shame
Shame can debilitate us. It can cause us to project our pain and resentment onto others, leading to abuse and torment. However, the emotion of shame can also remind us of what’s important in our relationships, can guide us in our actions, and stop us from doing things that betray us and others. How can we heal the debilitating shame so we can allow our healthy shame to guide us?
October 1 – The Day of Atonement and Becoming One With God
Yesterday, Jews celebrated the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur. Along with the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, this is a time to reflect on our past year and commit to changes we want to make. This is a time of atoning, of acknowledging our transgressions, and making redress where we can. Atonement allows us to enter, once again, into right relationship with ourselves and our community. During this Scripture study, we will consider what we can learn from this holiday.
September 24 – The Bounty of the Harvest
This time of year, crops are being harvested and put by to store for the winter. If we are lucky, we have a bounty of food. In what other ways do we experience bounty in our lives?
September 17 – Mercy and Grace
What is grace? How is it the same or different from mercy? Do we need grace? How do we learn to see and accept the grace that is all around us?
September 10 – Guilt and Forgiveness
Sometimes we do things that are wrong. Sometimes wrong is done to us. How do we forgive ourselves or forgive others? Should we forgive? How do we find closure without forgiving?
September 3 – Purpose and Mission in Our Lives
Scripture Study – The Story of Moses and the Burning Bush
God is emphatically clear when He gives Moses his mission of saving the Hebrew people. Having a purpose of some kind helps us get through challenges and cope with failures. Sustained recovery requires some sense of mission or purpose in this life. Where do you find your?
August 27 – Bias and What We Can Do About It
Our brains are wired to form alliances, identify enemies, jump to conclusions, and judge others more harshly than we do ourselves. Yet we don’t have to do this, or at least we can try to notice when we do. Let’s explore how we can be more intentional in how we view and understand the world.
August 20 – Play
Recovery is hard work, but it shouldn’t be grim or belabored. Part of recovery is playing, or remembering how to play if we have forgotten. This Sunday we’ll explore what healthy play looks like.
August 13 – Moments of Change
When we are ready, a statement, a glance, or a line of music can change our lives. Before we reach that point, however, we have probably heard the same thing time and again without realizing it or fully understanding the significance. When we try to make people change, by convincing them or proving to them, we generally meet resistance. Yet when we raise questions, or introduce an new idea, and let it sit, giving ourselves or our loved ones time to notice and hear and wonder, then moments of change appear as if from nowhere.
August 6 – The Use and Abuse of Power
There are so many types of power. Starhawk talks about power-over and power-with. The educator, Maria Harris lists other types of power, including the power to receive, or resist, or create, or love. These powers are important in the political arena; they are also important in our personal lives, and in our lives of recovery. Our Scriptures this Sunday will draw on both Pagan (Starhawk) Christian (Maria Harris) insights.
July 30 – Patience
Successful recovery requires patience. Until we learn to wait, we’ll have trouble maintaining sobriety, reaching out to others who themselves are imperfect, or sustaining in a spiritual practice. Patience requires trust in ourselves and in the process. How do we cultivate a patience that can support us as we become our best selves?
July 23 – Hope
Christians extol the virtue of hope; Buddhists do not. What is hope? What can it do for us? How can it get in the way of our recovery?
July 16 – Aging and Recovery
They say that growing old is not for sissies. Not only do our joints ache and we get sick more often, but we get less respect from the people around us. What causes our culture’s fascination with all things young and new? How does our love of youth and our own aging affect our recovery? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
July 9 – Empathy
When we’re caught up in our additions, we tend not to care about others. Recovery gives us the opportunity to be compassionate and empathetic to another’s experience. What is empathy and how do we enhance our capacity to journey with others? Read Amanda’s Reflection.
July 2 – Shout Songs of Joy
In Psalms 47, the Bible encourages us to express the joy we feel from our connection with the holy. Some find joy in a monotheistic God. For others, joy is in sunsets or music or simply being alive. We’ll look at a scriptural understandings of joy, then consider where we find joy. What role does joy play in our lives and our recovery? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
June 25 – The Practice of Recovery
Part of the Twelve-Step program includes meditation or prayer practices that help us sustain our calm, our sobriety, and our connection with that which surrounds us supports us. What spiritual practices give us strength and peace? Let’s share what we already do and learn from one another. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
June 18 – Fathers and the Coming of Summer
The Summer Solstice arrives just a few days after Father’s Day. In summer, trees and vegetables bear fruit. Regardless of the relationship we had with our fathers, are there lessons we gained that we use to support and nurture ourselves and others now? For those of us who are fathers, how can we help our children blossom and grow fruit that feeds and nourishes the world? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
June 11 – The Search for Enlightenment
According to Buddhist teachers, when we reach enlightenment, we lose our fear and craving. Our illusions fall away, and we experience the oneness of all creation. Compassion and equanimity are our normal states. Enlightenment isn’t guaranteed, however, no mater how much we meditate or pray. So what do we gain during the process? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
June 4 – The Joy of Pentecost
Pentecost is the birthday of the Christian church, the time when the followers of Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit and sent off to convert the multitude. How can this holiday inform our own spiritual path, and what does it say about our ability to embrace the joy and community that is part of recovery? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
May 28 – Re-creating Our Stories
Memorial Day is a time of remembering. We remember those who have died, those who served, and by remembering them, we recall our relationships. By recalling, we re-create our lives, over and over again. The meaning of our history changes; sometimes the history itself changes. How can we use this malleability to enhance our recovery? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
May 21 – Acceptance
When we realize we are imperfect, we have the opportunity to accept the truth of who we are. Then we can learn to accept others. Recovery demands this kind of truth, and this kind of open, affirming relationship. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
May 14 – Mother’s Day
It’s an honor to be a mother; it’s an honor to have a mother. Nonetheless, our love of motherhood may be mixed with annoyance, anger, and animosity. Love of our mothers can be complicated. On this Sunday, we will share the blessings and the curses of being and having mothers. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
May 7 – False and True Prophets
This Sunday’s lectionary reading (John 10:1-10) seems to be saying that Jesus is the only way to salvation, whatever salvation means. If we explore a little deeper, however, we will see that Jesus is really inviting into community. Since communities have leaders, we who follow are at risk of being led astray. Unitarian Universalists err on the side of distrusting all prophets. But surely we can find wisdom somewhere? How do we know who is false and who is true? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
April 30 – White Supremacy Teach In
April 23 – Drawing Wisdom from the Transcendentalists
Although not all Transcendentalists were Unitarian, many were, and they influenced our faith. Their mystical experiences guided their understanding of the “Over Soul” and of our responsibilities toward one another and the planet. How might their teachings guide us in our life today? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
April 16 – Passover
Although this Sunday is Easter, it is also the fourth day of Passover, a festival celebrating freedom. If we really think about it, this story is also filled with brutality and vengeance. Can we find in that story a message of peace, love, and beloved community? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
April 9 – Living Our Values
How do we decide what is right and wrong? What values do we use to guide us? In this world where simple answers are misleading and even facts are murky, it’s sometimes hard to know what to do. And if we can figure out what is best, how do we follow through? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
April 2 – Coping with Temptation
During this time of Lent, let’s honor our capacity to be true to our values and recovery. The forty days of Lent represent the forty days Jesus spent in the desert, tempted by visions of power and greed. It’s a time for us to search our own souls and acknowledge our own cravings and unhealthy desires. We must all deal with temptation, and searching our souls will help us cope. This is a Scripture Study. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
March 26 – Honesty
March 19 – Birth and Rebirth
March 12 – Living with Fear and Uncertainty
Spiritual practices from around the world offer guidance in trusting and staying firm in our values. When we get lost in fear and uncertainty, our recovery is threatened. We’re no good to anyone if we fall apart ourselves, but how do we maintain our own health while also supporting others through these bleak days? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
March 5 – Jesus and Resistance
According to Walter Wink, Jesus was not a revolutionary or reformer. His goal was to topple what Wink calls the “domination system,” to usher in an entirely different “kindom,” that based on love rather than legalism, on harmony rather than greed and violence. How do we understand this gospel today? How do we live out Jesus’ call to justice, in our personal lives in in our country’s? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
February 26 – Choosing Life
Although the calendar tells us we have another month to spring, in the Pacific Northwest, bulbs start sprouting in February, and bushes start leafing out. This is a great time to commit to life and to living our life to the fullest. Today we’ll gather and talk about how we can do that. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
February 19 – Letting Go
Although there are plenty of times when we gain friends, wisdom, jobs, material riches, life is also filled with little losses. We move, heirlooms break, loved ones die, we age and our bodies fail. We learn, day by day, to let go. How do we do so gracefully? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
February 12 – Building Loving Relationships
Sometimes we behave worst with the people we care about most. What gets in the way of treating our loved ones with gentle compassion? How do we reach out in healthy ways to friends and family? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
February 5 – Tu B’Shevat and Honoring Nature
On this Scripture Study day, we’ll look at how each person “is a tree of the field,” as it says in Deuteronomy. The trees of the field are vital to our survival; so is each one of use. What does this tell us for how we treat one another and how we treat the growing things of our earth? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
January 29 – Guilt, Repentance, and Recovery
A big challenge for many of us in recovery is coping with the guilt we feel over past deeds. Twelve-Step programs and religious thinkers can guide us in healing our guilt through repenting or making amends. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
January 22 – Anger and Anger Addiction
Violence, name-calling, intolerance, and bullying are rampant in our country and our world. Are we addicted to the rush of power we get when we act out in anger? In what ways does addiction fuel our anger, or our anger fuel our addiction? Most of all, how do we as individuals and as a society enter into recovery from our anger? Read Barbara’ Reflection.
January 15 – Martin Luther King’s Legacy
It may seem that our gains from the Civil Rights movement are quickly disappearing, yet no matter how we backtrack, we are not the same. Just as every relapse is different and is an opportunity for growth and resilience, so this relapse into self-righteousness and greediness is an opportunity to rise up stronger, more enlightened, and more compassionate. Read Barbara’ Reflection.
January 8 – Technology and Time to Think
Recovery requires time for reflection. Some of us thrive on being alone; others prefer company. Regardless, we might not take time in silence to commune with ourselves or our higher power. How do we create boundaries on our technology use and find time to take care of our inner self? Read Barbara’ Reflection.
January 1 – Claiming a New Purpose in Life
On this New Year’s Day, we will look at the story of Esther, the Hebrew orphan who became a queen and thus had the power to save her people. By winning the queenship, she was given a new beginning, an opportunity to become a new self. That new her also had a new purpose in life. Read Barbara’ Reflection.
There will be no service on December 25.
Enjoy the holidays!
December 18 – Privacy versus Security
Most of us feel better if we think we are safe and secure. Behind the locked door of my house, I feel comfortable, partly because I have privacy. Sometimes, though, privacy is at odds with security, as when our bags are searched at airports, jails, or treatment centers. We make trade offs all the time. If we were better able to tolerate insecurity, perhaps we wouldn’t be so willing to give up personal rights to feel safe. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
December 11 – Resilience
What gives us the courage to bounce back? Who supports and protects us? The road to recovery – as individuals and as a country – is long and hard. How do we find the resilience to keep going when times are hard? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
December 4 – Prophecy, Doubt, and the Abuse of Authority
Because Christmas comes in December, I thought we could explore the story of Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt with their new baby, thereby escaping death and fulfilling an earlier prophecy. Not only is there much to ponder here about the place of spiritual messengers and prophecy in our lives, about belief and doubt, but also about the abuse of authority and how we respond. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
November 27 – Waiting
On this first Sunday of Advent, we will consider how often we wait: to feel better, to discover our purpose, to succeed. Sometimes sitting patiently is important, especially if we don’t forget to live in the meantime. How does waiting support, and not support, our recovery? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
November 20 – Faith, Fear, and Security
What do we have faith in? Whether we trust in the strength of weapons, a “well-trained” militia, the support of friendships, or the love of God, where we put our faith affects how we live in the world and impacts our recovery. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
November 13 – The Election and “Amazing Grace”
John Newton was a slave trader who was struck by the mercy of God and changed his life. In response, he wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace,” a paean to the power of forgiveness. During this Sharing Circle, we will talk about the place of forgiveness and grace in our lives. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
November 6, 2016 – Specialness and Being Chosen
The Jews are “the chosen people.” Henri Nouwen explains that just because one group of people is “chosen” doesn’t keep the rest of us from being chosen, too. Combining Hebrew scripture with Nouwen’s insight, we will explore the longing to be special. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
October 30, 2016 – Darkness, Death, and Life
What can we learn about life by looking at darkness and death? Around the world, October 31 is celebrated in some way by honoring that thin veil between the living and those who have passed before us. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
October 23, 2016 – Being Faithful
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, in The Little Prince, tells the story of a lamplighter on a tiny planet who work tirelessly to perform his job, even though it has become untenable, and the Little Prince is touched by his faithfulness. Is this foolishness, or is there something to be said for hanging on even when we feel overwhelmed and weary? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
October 16, 2016 – The Wisdom of Escape
Life can be hard. Emotions can feel overwhelming. At times, we long for relief. What kind of escape is healthy? What kind of escape can promote recovery? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
October 9, 2016 – Building Our Covenant
Last Sunday, we looked at what covenant was. This Sunday, we will start the work of creating a covenant together. Join us for this hands-on, joyful, work session. We value your input. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
October 2, 2016 – The Covenants We Make
Let’s look some different covenants in scripture, then consider what Unitarian Universalist groups have to say about covenant. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
September 25, 2016 – Connecting with the Healing Power of Autumn
In this Sharing Circle, we’ll look at the cycle of nature during this fall season. How can we find healing in this time of slowing down and turning inward? Read Barbara’s Reflection.
September 18, 2016 – Ego and Humility
What is our ego? In what ways does our ego support us, and how does it get in our way? Can we have a strong ego and be humble at the same time? This is a Sharing Circle. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
September 4, 2016 – Labor
What does the Bible say about work? How about Eastern or Indigenous religions? We’ll explore some different approaches to labor and how that can inform our lives. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
September 11, 2016 – Anger, Fear, and 9/11
Where does anger come from? In this Sharing Circle, we will explore when anger is useful and when is it not, and we’ll share ways we release anger and move on. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
August 28, 2016 – Awe and Wonder
Throughout the ages, people have found many different ways to merge with the holy, to get lost in the awe and mystery of it all. For this Sharing Circle, we will look at how different peoples experience and express their awe and wonder. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
August 21, 2016 -Seeking
What do we long for? How do we go about finding that which we seek? How do we make sure the things we strive for support our recovery? This is a Sharing Circle. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
August 14, 2016 – Resilience
For this Sharing Circle, we will explore ways to enhance our resilience. Read Barbara’s Reflection.
August 7, 2016 – Lead Us Not Unto Temptation
For this Sunday’s Scripture Study, we will look at what the Christian Scriptures say about temptation and explore what that can teach us about growth, innocence, sobriety, and recovery. Read Barbara’s Reflection.