Tidings Monthly Newsletter
February, 2020 Vol.1: Issue 8
|(to see whole newsletter click on "view as web page" above the header)|
The Myth of Perfection
It’s a New Year and I am encouraging all of us to learn to be gentle with ourselves in this New Year. Yes, that includes me as well. This column is for February and I am writing this in January so it’s not too late. What does being gentle with oneself look like you ask? Well it can look like many things. Here are a few suggestions:
Stop trying to be perfect! Stop trying to fix yourself. We are perfect in our imperfections. Stop trying to change yourself. Stop trying to do everything just so. Stop trying to improve every little thing to impress people with just how perfect you are. Stop looking for little imperfections in your life and in others so that you can perfect them. The quest for perfection is a myth and a waste of time and energy. (This message is especially for, but not limited to those of you who are born under the zodiac sign of Virgo. You know who you are.)
It is a quest that closes your mind and your heart to the beauty that is all around you. You can be so preoccupied perfecting the cracks in you that you fail to realize that the light comes through the cracks. Remember the words of author Ernest Hemingway, who said, “Not everything that appears to be broken needs to be fixed.” In fact, some of us are strong at the broken places!” In other words, everything need not be perfect in order to function. This includes you and me.
So, you may have held perfection as the standard that you needed to live up to or achieve. Accept that you are perfect just as you are. Embrace the cracks in your life and the breaks in your heart as places where the pure light of love and understanding can shine through.
Sunday, February 2, 2020 11:00 a.m.
“You and Me and Smith and Wesson”
After the horror of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings I sat down to write about my own relationship with guns and gun violence. I was convinced that in the U.S. the only way we would ever wrestle head on with the complex issue of gun violence was when enough people knew someone who had been killed with a gun. At that point I thought of people’s relationships with gun deaths as six degrees of separation – the theory, tested by mathematicians and social scientists, that everyone is only six or less steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world. But it seems like we are more connected to gun violence than I realized. According to a poll conducted in 2015, 40% of Americans know someone who was fatally shot or committed suicide using a gun. From the shootings of unarmed black men by police, to the latest mass homicide, to partners killed in domestic violence disputes, how do we keep our hearts open to look at this interconnected web of violence with clarity, compassion and a search for solutions?
A member of UUCSV, Rebecca Williams is a documentary filmmaker interested in the power of digital media to help people tell their own stories. Her production company, Mountain Girl Media, works with small businesses, non-profits and individuals to create documentary style video stories. She is completing her first full length documentary film, "Blanket Town: The Rise and Fall of An American Mill Town," about the Beacon Blanket mill in Swannanoa, NC.
Sunday, February 9, 2020 11 a.m.
“Walking the Rocky Road”
Dr. Oralene Simmons
Dr. Oralene Simmons, internationally recognized lifetime civil rights leader, is the award-winning visionary founder of Asheville’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Prayer Breakfast and distinguished recipient of the national MLK Commission’s “Making of the King Holiday Award” presented to her by Mrs. Coretta Scott King. Ms. Simmons speaks and teaches widely, inspiring audiences locally, nationally, and globally, about her journey in civil rights along a path of non-violence in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Her presentation is entitled “Walking the Rocky Road.” She will talk about growing up in rural Madison County, where she rode a bus over rocky roads to a segregated school. Other phases of her life experiences also took place over rocky roads, making her wonder, “Will I ever travel paved roads and superhighways?”
Music for Second Sunday: Michael Carter and Jim Carillon, vocal duet, Linda Metzner on Piano
Pot Luck Luncheon following the service.
Sunday, February 16, 2020, 11:00 a.m.
Gandhi, Dr. King, and Buddhism on Suffering.
Rev. Michael J. C. Carter
My goal this morning is to provide you with a Christian and Buddhist (and Hindu) understanding of suffering, using Dr. King to represent the Christian perspective. The Hindu perspective will come from Gandhi. In this way perhaps you may see suffering differently—your own as well as others, especially since suffering is not going anywhere anytime soon, and for those of you with an activist spirit, this may assist you in weathering the storms which most assuredly will come your way in your work. Bear in mind that although Dr. King learned this perspective from Gandhi, that unearned suffering is redemptive, this is still an Eastern teaching, as is Buddhism’s perspective on suffering. See you there!
Sunday, February 23, 2020, 11:00 a.m.
Rev. Michael J. C. Carter
This morning I would like to talk a bit about prayer. All genuine spiritual traditions talk about the practice of prayer. We have all heard the many pithy sayings about the act of prayer. A minister I knew in New York said that “prayer does not change things. Prayer changes people, and then people change things.” Some people have said that the difference between prayer and meditation is that prayer is talking to God. Meditation is listening to God. I believe prayer and meditation are both talking and listening and you can define “God” any way you choose.
One thing is for certain, our words and thoughts reflect and affect our reality because quantum physics is just catching up to the fact very recently that thoughts are things. They are forms of energy.
Music for this Sunday: UUCSV choir performs; Sue Stone, Piano; Linda Metzner, choir director.
Board in Action: Revving Up for the New Year
|After a holiday month off, your board was back in action in January. Largely, we were approving or supporting activities of other congregational groups: yard sale and auction dates; sponsoring a community project: Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples; and a new photo directory!|
In our ongoing effort to grow and mature our church leadership, we agreed to cover the expenses for one member each year to attend the UU General Assembly.
I have two related topics on which I need your input. Both are about balancing continuity with change.
The board will decide what to advise committees next month; please contact me if you have wisdom to offer on this: email@example.com.
- Our current board of trustees’ term is 2 years, with the option to serve a second term. Our current practice (not a bylaw requirement) has the vice president serving as president the next year. To avoid having to become V.P. as a new board member, should we A. increase board term to 3 years for all? Or B. require a V.P elected in their second year to serve a third year?
- Committee chairs often stay on for years because of lack of new candidates. Some committees have moved to a rotating chair. Others, like membership, need longer-term consistency. Should we encourage a term limit for chairs, so others won’t be afraid to volunteer?
by Susan Enwright Hicks
Nikki Giovanni – Allowables
I killed a spider
Not a murderous brown recluse
Nor even a black widow
And if the truth were told this
Was only a small
Sort of papery spider
Who should have run
When I picked up the book
But she didn’t
And she scared me
And I smashed her
I don’t think
To kill something
Because I am
How often do we do this? React - out of fear. How often when it is not we who are at a disadvantage of power, but the other?
Our instinct to lash out first; apologize - or grieve - or justify after. Perhaps we withdraw instead? How often do we turn a blind eye - pick up a cell phone - rummage in a bag - pass too quickly - cross the street - to avoid meeting the gaze of the homeless person drawing near?
I am trying to teach my children compassion.
I’m hardly the perfect example.
Sometimes I am the person I want them to see me as… other times I feel too broke - too tired - too frustrated - have been approached too many times - am fearful, and instead I turn away.
I see confusion sweep over the face of my five year old. Innocent questions become pointed accusations in my ears. Of course my child wants to help, wants to save the world, sees the pure humanity in everyone...just as I have encouraged my children to do. Just as I did, once. Why is it difficult now?
It’s easier for me to remember my compassion when I’ve prepared to be compassionate.
On Feb. 9th the students of RE will begin turning your donations of useful personal items into “Blessing Bags” for our homeless neighbors that anyone may distribute as they’re completed. Please see the list of suggested items on the collection bin at UUCSV and consider being generous so that we can all share the love when provided an opportunity.
Susan Enwright Hicks, Director of Religious Education
|Our expanded music program at UUCSV |
|On second Sundays we have new volunteers providing their talents. |
For January, we had a Quartet, and a Trio.
Our UUCSV Choir, led by Linda Metzner, provided inspirational music on our last Sunday of January...including singing Charlie Chilton's "We Are the Unitarian Universalists of the Swannanoa Valley."
UUCV Music programs for February:
Feb. 2nd- Sue Stone, piano
Feb. 9th- Linda Metzner, piano; Second Sundays, Michael Carter and Jim Carillon, vocal duet
Feb. 16- Sue Stone, piano; Choir rehearsal at 12:15
Feb. 19 (Wednesday) - Choir rehearsal at 7 PM
Feb. 23- Sue Stone, Piano; Linda Metzner, choir director; Choir comes at 10 AM and performs that day.
The three musicians on the stage-
the Trio Sefardi,
music of the Jews of Iberia.
Forced out of Spain in 1492, they spread to the diaspora,
France, Morocco, Turkey, Yugoslavia.
Drifting deep into the Ladino songs,
I blink and I'm walking a cobblestone street
in my Medieval village.
Children kick a ball, carry bread dough, fetch water.
I wave hello and I hear it!
I hear the music!
On the village square, three musicians play,
the lute, the daff, the rebec,
chanting songs of love and history.
A single word comes to me,
full, full, full of tears and longing: convivencia.
Hundreds of years of music and peaceful coexistence,
Muslim, Christian, Jew,
here in these cobblestone streets of Spain,
France, Morocco, Egypt,
these ancient Mediterranean lands
where all the faiths lived comfortably, side-by-side.
Enjoying each other, living, thriving,
the oud, the lute, the guitar,
loving their common language, music.
living together in peace.
June 7, 2019
In the great firmament
In the great firmament
the eternal world spins on—
The summer pear blossoms
will make a perfect mat
for the autumn frost—
The days slow to a crawl
or speed past quicker
than the heart can follow—
Still, all the stars are present
if one will only look up,
Now and then, with right timing,
I catch them
casting their white nets
against the indigo night
|by Shelly Frome|
After returning from another ramble through the West, Bill Altork unhitched his trailer and took time out to come to terms with his wanderlust.
“Back in 1964,” he said, “when you first drive up after graduating from Coral Gables Senior High School and you pass the final hill through South Carolina, you realize ‘Wow, there are the mountains!’ And you know they’re in North Carolina and they harbor the creeks and lakes and give you contour and viewpoints.”
This initial impression came to him while making his way to Montreat-Anderson Junior College. As it happens, his older brother and sister went there, he dearly wanted to get away from home, and his grades were so terrible that this was the only college that would accept him. From then on, he kept the draw of this special corner of the Blue Ridge in the back of his mind.
In the meantime, he was occupied with playing the guitar and surfing in South Florida, California and Hawaii. At one point, he stopped “traveling all over the map,” took up residence in central Idaho, and started composing songs based on his experiences.
“Then I pulled up stakes again,” he said, “and went back to South Florida. But my muse remained behind in Idaho. I sold my guitar and my creative side stayed dormant for thirty years. Finally, in 2006, I was tired of all the fabricated communities tearing away the natural vegetation. I also realized that every time I traveled east of the Mississippi I was in another country that’s all lit up. Out west, except for the coastal areas, there’s a great deal of open space. So why finally come back here and start to settle down?”
But come back, he did. He met his eventual partner Sue (Temesrisuk) who wanted to learn to play the guitar. And so he purchased one at a pawnshop and while he was teaching her ”the inner creative switch turned back on.”
“I could now see,” he said, “that Sue, my music, and the surrounding mountains were the most important things in my life. Plus, we made good friends who found their own connection with this very special place.”
Delving deeper, he also realized that age had become an operative factor. He could no longer take off willy-nilly or go through the whole process of moving. Not to mention the fact that he missed Sue after only a couple months of being far away from her. Moreover, he’d developed a reliance on a continuous flow of energy as a source of inspiration. He mentioned the clouds rolling over the mountains, for example, the sound of the nearby creek running close to his bedroom at night, and the migrating patterns of wildlife and birds that cross his path.
“As a result of this dynamic” he said, “there’s a shifting undercurrent in our consciousness that’s also seasonal here.”
He spoke of the vibrant, summer rolling thunder that affects his mood and spirit juxtaposed with the peaceful autumn as he sits in the grass and watches the stars, and the winter that draws him snug indoors affecting a totally different rhythm. He feels he can always count on the natural changes distinctive to this region.
In turn, his songs are a reflection of this evolving pull, the cradling ambiance, the abiding comfort of his partner, wisdom that comes with aging, and lyrics that take into account “the water flowing under the bridge,” “the winds of change” exhorting him to “go to the mountain” and bring him “closer to home.”
In closing he said, “The older I get, the more I step out of the way, the more this creative source comes through. Writing the music first conjures up feeling and images of the reality of life’s situations that we all go through which I hope everyone can relate to.”
From time to time, Bill Altork can be seen busking on the streets of Asheville. He can also be viewed playing his songs on his youtube channel:
|by Deb Vingle|
Tonglen is a Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice that can be a wonderful and very effective way to deal with the pain and suffering in our lives and in the world. The word Tonglen comes from the Pali language and means giving and taking, or sending and receiving. To practice Tonglen, initially we find a comfortable seated posture, either sitting on a meditation cushion, bench or in a chair. We should be at ease, but have a long, erect spine with our ears over our shoulders and our shoulders over our hips as much as possible. We then attempt to simply calm and center ourselves, quieting the mind and finding as much spaciousness within ourselves as we can. Using the breath as the focus of our attention, we lengthen and deepen our breathing over a few minutes until we are able to soften both the breath, and with it, the mind. As we do this, and are able to access more stillness of mind and openness of heart, we can begin to practice Tonglen.
We choose an object of our attention: it can be an individual, or a group of people who are suffering. We may be so upset about something that the object of our attention is obvious; it chooses us vs. the other way around.
The best and first object for Tonglen is to begin on ourselves because we can’t feel compassion toward others if we have none for ourselves. It’s also easier to send loving kindness toward a friend, our partner or a mentor, what is traditionally called a “benefactor” in the teachings. A neutral person is easier than someone we dislike, so we work with that before we jump in to work on wishing well of our “enemy.” Lastly, in traditional Tonglen practice we send loving kindness toward all beings without exception.
Breathing in and out, inhaling and exhaling. Breathing in pain and suffering, our own, a friend or loved one’s, a neutral person’s, someone we dislike/an enemy’s, and lastly, for all beings everywhere. Breathing out kindness, contentment, healing and peace. The breath is the vehicle, softening and releasing, letting go. Making space in our minds and hearts.
We begin by focusing on whatever object we have chosen and breathe in the awareness of their pain and suffering. If it’s someone we don’t like or are angry with, we might have to imagine what their perspective is, and what they are going through. We work to empathize or sympathize with “our enemy” when it’s hard for us. We might also have to let in our feelings of rage or anger toward them, our internal name calling and ill wishes. If we are working with someone we love, we let in our own painful awareness of what they are going through; we allow ourselves to grieve. Whatever it is, we allow ourselves to really feel it. We don’t ignore our feelings or shut down. We let pain in on the inhale. We continue to work with the feeling over however long it takes, visualizing and experiencing that discomfort, whatever it is.
As we breathe out, we wish ourselves, others, and/or all beings peace, comfort and healing. We send out our longing that they are well, healed,contented, happy, safe, sheltered. Whatever the need is, we wish it for them. We relax the breath out, soften and send spaciousness to the individual or group of people suffering.
When we are working with feelings toward the person we don’t like, or the “enemy,” we work to wish them well and send them our best wishes and compassion. It’s not an easy practice. It takes time to develop and when I first started working with it, it felt really hard, even impossible at times. It’s the human condition to want to gloss over what’s painful, to avoid and push away negative feelings. But over time, it gets easier and more accessible.
Deb Vingle has practiced, studied and taught yoga over many years and completed her yoga teacher training in 2008 and Integrative Yoga Therapy training in 2010. Currently she is teaching a chair yoga class at the Lakeview Center for Active Aging once a week. She adds, “I have also practiced various forms of meditation on and off, and currently participate in a weekly Buddhist sangha (or community of practitioners) in Asheville, called Open Circle. The group is led by a wonderful and skilled teacher, Ken Lenington, who has spoken at UUCSV in the past, and a handful of other congregants have also been a part of the sangha. Over the past three years I have learned so much from Ken and Circle, and one of the most important practices for me has been Tonglen.”
|Our birthdays in February|
|February 2 - Jeff Hutchins|
February 10 - Tina Rosato
February 23 - Ginny Moreland
February 24 - Molly Keeney
|Ellyn Kirschner travels between her two homes, one in Charlotte, NC and the other in Black Mountain. She grew up in New York City and received her MA in Speech and Language Pathology from Western Michigan University. She has worked as a speech-language therapist, taught restorative yoga and holds certification in Reiki level two.|
She enjoys numerous activities including hiking, cooking, music and engaging in conversational groups on varied subjects. In Charlotte she volunteers for the NC Wild Life Federation and the Charlotte Urban Ministry public school reading program, and is a Sierra Club member. In Black Mountain she Volunteers with the Black Mountain Library, training in their POPS reading program for daycare programs. She is a member of our own Social Action Committee and participates in our congregational care program.
We welcome Ellyn to our community as a member.
Bill Abbuehl and Rose Levering have been sustaining friends of the UUCSV for over two years and now have joined us as members. Rose grew up in Baltimore, MD and Bill grew up in Roanoke, VA. Before retirement they both worked as attorneys in Ormond Beach, FL. Bill was director of a legal aid program and Rose worked as a public defender. Rose also worked as a librarian. They were both involved in the Ormond Beach UU, Rose as a friend and Bill as a member for more than thirty years.
They retired to Asheville four years ago. Rose enjoys reading, walking and absorbing local culture. Bill’s major interest is gardening. They both belong to Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway. They are happy to be in Asheville and to join our community as members. We welcome them to our congregation.
by Carolyn Shorkey
Mary Soyenova landed in Black Mountain 27 years ago while she was traveling through a wormhole toward another galaxy. Then 15 years ago, she found our UUCSV colony so much to her liking, she decided to stay.
When she greets you on Sunday morning, you are likely pulled into her electromagnetic field of love and joy.
Lurking at the center of Mary’s being is a passion for our congregation. Would you like to get to know her through our space and time? She can be found arranging flowers for our altar, teaching our children (little known fact: she is a great grandmother many times over), installing her professionally made signage, placing calls during our annual canvass, and being a welcoming presence as she staffs our Gay Pride Festival table. Because she spends the night as a volunteer for "Room In The Inn," the women she shelters find in her a gateway to feeling safe and loved. One of Mary's greatest pleasures is chirping along with our other warblers in the choir.
In the past Mary has served on our Board of Trustees, Memorial Garden Construction Committee, as a coffee hour host, plant sale coordinator, painter at a Habitat for Humanity House, and photo directory organizer.
If you don’t see her at church, she is likely hunting mushrooms, rehearsing her lines at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, or training in her vintage bathing suit to compete for Senior Olympics Swimming Competitions.
Mary sets the gold standard for volunteerism at UUCSV! We are so glad she landed here and decided to stay!
|Inanna's Daughters to meet|
|Inanna's Daughters, an earth-based and Goddess-centered women's gathering, will meet for Imbolc on Sunday, February 2nd, 3 to 6 PM at the UUCSV. We will gather around a Brigid's Wheel, carve candles, sing and dance. To honor Brigid and our own creativity, please bring a poem to share, your own or another's, that gives you peace and tranquility. Also bring a snack to share and a small donation. For more info, contact Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org.|
Swannanoa Valley Martin Luther King Breakfast
February 8, 2020, 9 a.m. Make sure to get your tickets to the annual Swannanoa Valley Martin Luther King Breakfast at Camp Dorothy Walls, Black Mountain. $15 for adults, $10 for children age 3 to 12.
By popular demand, we have brought back the amazing gospel singer/educator Mary D. Williams to be our keynote speaker.
Donations will be used as scholarships for local high school and renewing college students who have low incomes in our valley. Contact Diane Hutchins at email@example.com or (828)545-2583.
| Bill Altork said,"I had a vision and heard this song being sung with friends and others. It is for the world to hear, and to listen and absorb its meaning for us all."|
There were over 20 people on the stage at the White Horse music venue in Black Mountain, NC on Open Mic night, Tuesday, January 21, 2020. Led by our own music director, Linda Metzner, they sang with fervor the song "We Are One." (It's also known as the tune of "Finlandia," and is in our hymnal as number 138. Here's the performance on YouTube - We Would be One
|Black Mountain Women's March on January 18, 2020|
|Many of our congregation took part in promoting the issues that women want to be addressed in our society. There were speeches by the leaders, young girls, addressing some of these issues. |
For a good recap of the event go to this YouTube link: Black Mountain Women's March, Jan. 18, 2020.
|World Climate Simulation at UUCSV - postponed|
This program is postponed till April. Our facilitator, Milt Warden, is currently busy helping his wife, Carolyn Shorkey, as she recovers from a broken arm.
|Look in our weekly news "The Current," for more events! It is published each Thursday afternoon.|
We will miss Myra Schoen, our Administrator, who had to leave for medical reasons. We send her all our good wishes.
Welcome Damaris Pierce, and thanks for stepping in for the past few weeks, and officially being our new Office Manager.
|"Tidings" is our Monthly Newsletter, a journal/magazine and place where we can share our thoughts and photos about things of interest to our UU Congregation of the Swannanoa Valley. Please submit articles of around 250 words to "Tidings." Submissions can be just written in an email as text, or as attachments, and photos are welcome! Thank you so much for everyone who contributed this month!|
There are different themes for each month, for March 2020 it will be Wisdom. Think of something you just really want to say about that!
|Our Web Site is uusv.org where you can find more information about us.|
Rev. Carter's hours are Monday-Thursday. His day off is Friday and he does not answer emails on his day off.
Address: 500 Montreat Rd, Black Mountain NC 28711
email: firstname.lastname@example.org "The Current" is published each week on Thursday which is where our current events are listed. Send information to Damaris Pierce, Office Manager, by Tuesday.
"Tidings" is published monthly. Send entries by the 20th of prior month or questions to Barbara Rogers at email@example.com
Board of Trustees:
Linda Tatsapaugh – President
Kathryn Coyle – Vice President
Non-board officers are:
Lee Reading – Treasurer
Milt Worden – Secretary
Building & Grounds - Rhea Bockhorst
Social Action - Suzanne Ziglar & Julia Jordan (rotating)
Congregational Care - Larry Pearlman
Finance - Lee Reading
Membership - Carol Sheeler
Nominating - Evan Yanik
Personnel - Jim Carillon
Communications - Susan Culler
Governance - Katheryn Coyle
Religious Education - Jessie Figuera, Jim Carillon, Heidi Blozan, Kathryn Coyle (rotating)
Sunday Service Associates - Diane Graham (rotating)
Strategic Planning Task Force - Michael Figuera