This ‘n That~September 18

Welcome to This ‘n That, the weekly newsletter of MqtUU!

THURSDAY, September 25

September’s “Share the Plate” recipient:
Doctors Without Bordersdoctors-without-borders
We are Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). We help people worldwide where the need is greatest, delivering emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters or exclusion from health care.

Saturday, October 4th from 9 to noon ~ All Church Work Day
We’re going to be pulling spotted knap weed, protecting our trees and native plants (planning the trail) and other outdoor projects. Who knows, perhaps we’ll move indoors for projects, too. Stay tuned. Green Team has initiated this project but all committees and members are encouraged to join in with ideas and projects.
Paint the Shed
Pull Knapweed

Susan Werner


Susan Werner Benefit Concert ~ Sunday, October 19th at 7 pm
Support The Women’s Center                         at the MqtUU Meeting House.

Do you or someone you know have Frequent Flyer Miles to donate to help get Susan here and support the Women’s Center.
Please email Anne Stark.



Adult Enrichment
Community Development
Religious Exploration
Social Action

For more information on committees and activities please see the latest Directory.

Community Development Committee Meeting
Saturday, September 27 @ 10am

Social Action Committee Meeting
Sunday, September 28 @12:15pm

If you, or someone you know, are interested in attending MqtUU but are unable to due to lack of transportation please call the Meeting House at (906) 249-9450 and we will help find a ride for you!

Also, if you regularly attend MqtUU and are willing and available to give a ride to a neighbor please call and we will add you to the rideshare list. THANK YOU!

What’s Happenin’ Around Town…


UNITED CONFERENCE, September 28-October 1
NMU Campus, Great Lakes Rooms
See full schedule here

From Homoflexible to Transfabulous
TC Tolbert

White Earth Anishinaabeg
Jill Doerfler

How to Move Forward
When You Feel Like Quitting
Andres Lara “The Cuban Guy”

Syria, Iraq and Kids
at the border
Emily Arnold-Fernandez, Esq

Unsung Heroes
Of the Developing World
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Why Hire People
with Disabilities
Mark Wafer

Plus much more!

“Accepting the Gift” Tim VanderVeen

Sunday, August 24, 2014
Accepting the Gift
Tim VanderVeen

As I thought about the act of accepting a gift, I couldn’t help but touch on the meaning of giving. I thought about the gifts themselves.

And I wondered, thinking back to the Christmas story as told in the Bible… I wondered if the three wise men were re-gifting in a way, when that brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh…to offer the Baby Jesus. I wondered what their expectations were. How did they think the parents would respond?

Could these gifts be some things they found around the house that really never got used much. And by the way, “What is myrrh, anyway?” Well, in fact, it’s a sap that is said to have many medicinal uses and could prove very useful for a poor family with a new born child.
Is it important to know what a gift is? Or more important to just accept it in the spirit in which it was given? So, again, we know little about how the baby’s parents accepted the gifts or what they might have said.

If Joseph and Mary were not sure what to think, how might they have received those gifts?

“Oh, you shouldn’t have…”

There are at times, those awkward moments when it comes to giving and receiving gifts. It seems to me it should be the easiest thing in the world. Giving. Receiving. It a part of the natural flow of humankind.

This all brings us to the quandary I have. Is it easy to accept gifts? If not, why not?
“It is Better to Receive, than to give.” That’s just wrong…

Unless you are the recipient from an organ donor. Many of us have pledged to be organ donors and have no idea who our organs might benefit. But, we do it because we want to help someone else. To make their life better. That may be the ultimate gift to give.

I am sure many of us have been a part of some Secret Pal exercise in our lives, maybe at work, or in school. We all draw names from a jar and then give thought to a nice gift we can secretly give to the chosen one; maybe once a week, or at random times until the game is ended. How do we feel when we participate? Better as the Secret Pal; giving the gift? Or Better as the one who gets this surprise gift?
In fact, is it easier to accept that gift from some unknown benefactor until we all take off our masks, so to speak, at the end? Maybe it’s even easier to give that gift if the person doesn’t know it came from us. And I know we all try to figure out who gave it to us, with CSI-like detective work to uncover style, expense, and choice of gift. But, let’s think about receiving the gift.

Accepting the gift…

What thoughts do we have when we are given a gift? Not a gift we expected or maybe felt we deserved. But, a gift out of the clear blue sky. A gift such as this morning, this day, these friends, and this park. We might feel vulnerable, or off guard, or indebted. We might feel , “Oh Great, now what do I need to give them.” Or we might realize that something I did, a choice I made, or a word I spoke, might have put me here at the receiving end of this gift-giving event.
I think that could be a dilemma for some of us. We don’t always remember what we might have done to deserve this. Or we might not want our act acknowledged.

Altruism usually doesn’t have an agenda. Sometimes we do good because we are good. And nothing more needs to be said. At other times we may suspect the gift is a prepayment on deeds to be done. Quid pro Quo.

But, truthfully, I think most gifts are deserved and while the Baby Jesus may not have performed as anticipated on day one, he eventually is said to have done countless acts of kindness, compassion, and bravery. Sometimes there is a such a need for kindness that we are willing to give gifts to those we believe are capable of such acts even before they themselves know this or perform such acts. In teaching, and likely other fields, this is called the “Anticipatory Set.”
Acts of kindness prompt us to respond the same way.

So, when we accept that gift it is both a reward for who we are and what we’ve done, and a token of appreciation for what we may do. And I have no doubt, the gift moves us to act in a giving way. The Gift that Keeps on Giving.

I think the act of accepting a gift can be an act of compassion, grace, and love. When a child hands us a frozen glob of clay with patches of color painted on, and says, “Here, I made this for you” we accept it with a smile. We know it came out of love. And we embrace it as an expression of a very special bond between us.

I think the act of giving can be a way to heal. To love. To express feelings. And to connect.
And to receive and accept the gift is the same. Accepting the gift completes the mutual act of recognition and respect, and shows a willingness to be in touch with another human’s heart.
Having a gift to give with no one to accept it, is no more fulfilling than having a ticket to fly and nowhere to land.

My cousin’s former wife wrote that she’d just been delivered a gift from someone unknown. She was delighted with the tea cup and saucer and wondered who sent it. It made her feel special and curious. I told her she was a perfect recipient and that she had already fulfilled the wishes of the giver by gratefully accepting this special gift with joy. Others told her ways to find out who sent it. Is the gift better accepted as we focus more on how it made us feel than on how to respond to the giver?

We are taught to say “Thank you” and “please”, of course, but maybe we should be taught that sometimes life if about accepting the gift, and maybe being the next one to give.
The Gift that Keeps on Giving.

Look around us today at the world created for us. We are not expected to thank the creator. But, we might still. We are not expected to seek out the one who brought this feeling of joy to us, but we might still search for them. We are not expected to create such a world, such a place, such a feeling, for someone else, but we might find ourselves wanting to share this with others.

Accepting the gift is what makes the exchange so meaningful. While comedians might show how clever they are hugging themselves, it really means so much more when our arms and heart are wrapped around someone else. We get back the love when we give it. Open your heart to accept the gifts that life can offer. And then, Please, pass it on…..

Accepting the Gift..,

Visiting Minister: Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher

Unitarian Minister Visits Marquette Unitarian Universalist Congregation

On Sunday, August 10, Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher will lead a forum and service for the Marquette Unitarian Universalist Congregation. The Forum, at 9:45 a.m., is titled “Fear”; the service, at 11 a.m., is titled “What Do You Fear and Why?.” All are invited to join with Rev. Belcher.

Rev. Belcher  is the settled minister at DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church near Chicago since May 2005.  She has been a UU minister since 1989, previously serving churches in Traverse City, Michigan, and Morristown, New Jersey.  Before her ordination, she served congregations in Troy, Michigan and Lyons, Ohio, and was the Director of Religious Education for six years at the UU church in Detroit, Michigan. Rev. Belcher holds a Masters of Religious Studies from the University of Detroit and did her undergraduate work in fine arts at the University of Michigan.

As well as being a professional artist, teacher and minister, Rev. Belcher has worked since her teenage years for civil rights for all people, peaceful relations between nations, reproductive rights, ecological well-being, good government and good schools.  She invites you to join her in helping to create a beloved community among us.

The Marquette Unitarian Universalist Meeting House is at 1510 M28 East, about 2.5 miles east of the US41/M28 intersection. For more information, call 249-9450.

August 3 ~ Presque Isle Pavillion

15pavillion (2)

Presque Isle Pavillion

Summer Gathering @ Presque Isle Pavillion

11:00am Service: “What We Do Matters”
A Time for Worshipping, Singing
& Picnicking Together!
Bring friends, family and a dish to share!
Hope to see you there!


My name is Heidi Gould and I am the very first Administrative Assistant for the Marquette Unitarian Universalist Congregation! I was hired on January 3, 2014. In the last 6 months I have been taking on the responsibilities of the position and establishing the routines to accomplish those responsibilities. I am the webmaster (to be read in the voice of Darth Vader) for this website.

I love MQTUU, it is my spiritual home and the members are my family. I especially appreciate UUs for the diversity in beliefs, acceptance and welcoming of all!

You are invited to join us on any Sunday or other community events as well as sharing thoughts, comments and suggestions regarding the website, our Facebook page or other methods of communication!

Thank you!


Who is Wendell Berry and why is he important to UUs?

imagesMessage given by Sarah Redmond, November 10, 2013
Doing a service for our lay-led congregation can sometimes feels like a book report and other times like sharing a passion.  Last year’s service on Rumi felt like the former and today’s service is definitely the later.  Wendell Berry is a name that has floated around in my consciousness for a long time without really understanding who his is and the incredible importance of his vision and impact.

Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher, who has spoken here for the past three summers actually did a service on Wendell Berry at her  Dupage UU Church several weeks ago.  Martin and Joan Steindler, our members as well as members of the DuPage, Illinois congregation, were kind enough to send me a DVD of that service.  The direction I’m going to take is somewhat different, but I also want to share her understanding on Wendell Berry.

To Rev. Belcher he is a modern day prophet speaking in the tradition of Biblical prophets such as Abraham and Moses.  Just what is a modern day prophet, you ask?  Wendell Berry prophecies have to do with our relationship with the land we live on and the sense of community that small farming communities provide.  As with any true prophet it’s not just about his words, he totally lives his values and raises his voice to help others understand their own relationship to the land and the planet as a whole.  Rev. Belcher likens Berry to UU Theodore Parker.  Others scholars see him as a modern day Henry David Thoreau.  Berry is leading us to the path of saving our family farms, ourselves and our planet from environmental destruction.

His family has farmed the same land in Henry County, Kentucky, for 5 generations.  His father before him was a land conservationist and farmer, motivated by what he saw of his own fathers experience. Farmland was devastated by farmers pressing  the land to produce to earn a living while they were squeezed by monopoly commodity corporations.   Being a true steward of the land and farmer would be enough, but Berry has also written 27 volumes of poetry, 15 novels and 27 non-fiction books.  Something else I learned from Rev. Marjory West, a retired United Methodist clergy and Transition Marquette leader, is that Berry  is also a Methodist minister.

Berry was educated at Stanford, traveled and worked widely as a young man before  returning to Kentucky where  he taught writing at U of Kentucky before leaving to farm full time.  The accolades for Berry comes from the literary, poetry, environmental and religious communities.  Summing up, the Georgia Review wrote “He is a novelist, a poet, an essayist, a naturalist, and a small farmer.  He has embraced the commonplace and ennobled it.”

Do you believe in coincidence?  My immersion into Wendell Berry started out as a series of coincidences.  First, I picked up the novel Jayber Crow at a used book sale.  Then a traveling troubadour, Mark Dvorak, stayed at our home and we heard his story of writing a song about Port William, Berry’s fictional town.   From there I started reading and reading.  His novels are addicting because of their warm, loving and true characters presented in poetic prose.  A number of his poem have been included in our UU Hymnal.

Wendell Berry spoke at our UUA General Assembly in Louisville this summer.  At 79 he is still ‘walking the talk’ and working to end mountain top removal  and the destruction of rural communities by the coal industry.   As I mentioned when we did our talk in September, Wendell Berry was my final motivation for attending my first GA after almost 30 years of being a UU.

Another coincidence, the Transition Marquette is reading Berry’s The Unsettling of America at the same time I’d picked it up in preparation for this service. They will be discussing this book at the PWPL this coming Thursday at 7 pm.  All are welcome.
And lastly, this Wednesday’s UP Food Exchange, Growing Local Food Systems conference held at NMU.  The UP Food Exchange group which is made up of Marquette Food Co-op, MSU Extension services and the Western UP Health Department, brought in researcher Ken Meter to share the status of our food security, or should I say insecurity.   He  reported on our local food system and the numbers for the UP are grim.  The Central UP spends $430 million on food each year with all but $30 M leaving the area.  We have few farms growing a very limited supply of food for people to eat.  The goal of the conference was to build capacity and connect those producing with those consuming here within the region.   To build capacity we must see to it that our farmers can afford stay in business.  The average net loss in the Central UP  from 1989-2011 is $540 per farm per year.  This is input cost subtracted from sale of goods; there is no number in here for the farmer’s labor and time.  How long can our farmers afford to farm if they not only can’t pay themselves but have to pay out of pocket for inputs as well?  This is what Wendell Berry talks about happening to his home area of Kentucky and throughout the country, farmers not being able to earn a living by farming, not being able to be paid enough for their product to keep farming.

If you’d like to see the full report, see me after the service or go on the MJ website for the URL.   (

Environmentalist and back-to-the-land community have been following Berry for decades.  Some credit him with the farmers market movement.  Ken Meter, the UP Food Exchange keynote speaker, talked about how the local food movement has exploded like nothing he has ever seen in just the past four years.  People want local food, people want healthy food, people want food they can trust from farmers they can trust.

I’ve found that literature is often an easy entry point to difficult subjects.  Berry does this extremely well by inviting us into  Port William, a small farming community as its people transition from a traditional farming community where people and farm animals work the ground, harvesting crops together, supporting one another through life’s challenges,  to become the dying farm communities of today whose chief export is its children and the few farmers left need off-farm jobs to pay the bills.  Through his stories you see the impact of mechanization of the farm and the commodification of mono-cropping slowing destroying the community forcing more and more people to leave as they’re displaced by machinery.  Just as we’ve seen the off-shoring of industrial jobs in our generation, the early 20th Century culminating with WWII saw the destruction of the traditional family farms.  It isn’t until you’re well immersed into his novels that the message comes to you because you’re living with and loving his characters and sense of place is such a delight.

Just as with any good book, Berry’s books have led me to spend  time thinking about how his message fits into my own families story.  My grandfather whom I never met was an educated farmer having graduated from Michigan Agricultural College (today’s MSU) a century ago.  Listening to Father tell the stories, my grandfather was all about helping his neighbors understand the new machinery, the new ideas, the new chemicals and fertilizers.    As a result, as with many farmers, he couldn’t make the numbers work and between the debt for the equipment and land and the low prices farmers got for their crops, and he too left the farm.

My father went to college and never to return to what had been the family farm outside Kalamazoo where his family had been one of the very first non-native American families to settle in that area.   I’m sure many of you have the same story in your own lives where the family left the farm and scattered, as did ours. I were born on that farm and in some ways have been trying to get back to it.    Berry talks about folks having a sense of place and ‘membership’ in their communities.  I, like many of you, have lost that.
So then why is Berry a prophet?  He tells the story of our past and how we’ve strayed.  He gives us the map of how we can learn to survive and lead authentic lives in  the future, of how we can regain our communities and feed ourselves in a responsible, sustainable manner.

So why does Wendell Berry matter to UUs?  We justly pride ourselves on having been on the cutting edge of social justice issues through out our history.  However, if people starve, if food can’t be had at any price, if the planet becomes uninhabitable because of our destruction of it, what good are our social justice stands?  For me it’s all about the medical term triage; what is most critical and do that first.  Not that all issues aren’t important, but what needs our attention most critically and immediately is where I think we need to focus.

Our Seventh Principle is  “respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”   We are a part of not separate from nature and that takes us away from religions that call for “man having dominion over nature.”  Wendell Berry’s central theme is we are one with nature and must be good stewards of the land and in doing so we build communities that sustain us.

I’ve been sorting out how I can grapple with the incredible challenge of the climate destruction.  My conclusion is the most practical thing I can do is to focus on growing food, growing community and supporting those who do, by educating people about healthy cooking and eating.  And yes, I will continue to  raise my voice politically in support of sane national policies and the things we must do to stop destroying the planet that is our one and only home.

So I hope I’ve piqued your interest in learning more about Wendell Berry.   That you too might  grow food, read his novels, poetry and essays for  a greater understanding, entertainment and inspiration; he gives all three.  Support the work of UP Food Exchange and the work of the MSU Extension and local health departments.  Support having home economics classes in the schools once again so young and not-so-young  people learn to cook.  Feed the hungry anyway we can, but look to build capacity for all of us to feed ourselves.

Wendell Berry matters to UUs because he gives us an alternative history so we can understand  our past.  More importantly, he holds the lantern to our future in which we must rebuild our communities by rebuilding our small, diversified farms using the techniques that have stood the test of time and not destroyed the land while we fed ourselves.

Wendell Berry message 11-13

Presented November 10, 2013
at Marquette UU Congregation


by Teri Rockwood,  May 19, 2013


The Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons wrote in the Spring 2012 issue of the UU World magazine the following:

“We come together because we are creatures who are fundamentally, physiologically incomplete.  As much as our individuality defines us, we also need other people to make our limbic circuits function the way evolution has built us.  To the core of our chemistry and our neural networks, we are a social species.  Our physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual well-being depends on our connections—both to the world of nature, and to our fellow humans.  Spirituality for skeptics is about keeping alive that connective tissue that makes us who we are and enables us to imagine what we might yet become.  Some of that work we do alone, in moments of inspiration or insight, but more of it happens in the company of other seekers, those who share the skeptical path with us, insisting on the freedom of conscience and the integrity of doubt.  We do it by grappling with the deep questions and the big ideas.  We do it simply, by sitting next to each other, by speaking forth our joys and sorrows, by sharing soup, by lifting our hearts in praise of this amazing earth and our astonishing lives, by making music with our blended voices.”  And by carrying on traditions like the Flower Communion that we are celebrating today.

The Reverend Nobert Capek started this most wondrous tradition many years ago in Prague Czechoslovakia with the 6th Principle in mind… which states “We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.”

Ken Collier, in his book “Our Seven Principles in Story and Verse” writes about the idea of community in the chapter about the 6th principle.

It states…”Let us begin with the idea of community.  Unitarian Universalists sometimes spend so much time and energy worrying about and praising the autonomy of the individual that we forget that individuals standing alone have about as much strength as a bunch of stones lying around on the ground.  It is only when a mason picks up these stones and builds a wall that they become powerful.  And that is how it is with communities.  Alone, we’re not much; together we have power.  In fact, some people believe that the idea of an individual makes no sense except in the context of community.  How can you have individuals who have no relationships or communal ties?

Let us also be reminded of a story that the Reverend William Schulz tells.  In the Middle Ages, a certain order of monks lived quietly at their monastery and part of their rule was that periodically they each to on an individual retreat.  The length of the retreat was up to the individual monk and for some it would last a very long time indeed.  One day a monk sought out the Abbot and asked for permission to go on his retreat.  The Abbot gave his permission and off the monk went.

The monk came to the hermitage and opened a Bible that was there.  It happened to open to a passage in the Gospel of John that described Jesus washing his disciples’ feet.  The monk read that passage and meditated on it for a couple of days, then abruptly got up and returned to the monastery.  As was the custom, he presented himself to the Abbot, who was surprised to see him return so soon.

“So, You have returned already,” said the Abbot.

The monk replied, “Of course.  For whose feet would the hermit wash?”

And that is what community is about.  It is about washing feet, serving each other in humility and generosity.  It is about creating ways to help each other.  It is about reaching to each other and touching, sometimes literally, with a gentle and healing hand, sometimes with food or clothing, sometimes with a place with the caress of a soul.  And it means reaching out and asking for help, for do we not deny each other when we refuse to give to others the opportunity to help us?

In the first Unitarian Universalist Principle, we extol the inherent worth and dignity of each human being.  Yet it remains true that with no one’s feet to wash, it is impossible for that very worth and dignity to be manifest or celebrated.  In community it becomes possible for our humanity to grow, flower, and bear fruit.  We never come to fruition alone and in a vacuum, but only in community, touching and serving each other, and living in creative tension together.

May we find peace, liberty, and justice filling the days of our lives and spreading outward, touching the lives of all, that we may all grow ever more deeply, ever more fully, ever more genuinely human, connected, healed, and at peace.  And may we be as relatives to all beings.

Mother’s Day Message

 by Tim VanderVeen given May 12, 2013

IMG_1015“The mother in our mind” Trying to come up with a service that will capture and hold the congregation’s attention, isn’t always easy. But, when it’s Mother’s Day I have to admit we have an amazing group of mothers and a crowd of fans who will almost jump at the chance to recognize and praise them.

I have to thank the mothers among us who bring the energy of the children and the hope for our future to our service every Sunday. It is a pure joy for me each week and especially on this day we set aside to show our appreciation to all of you who fill that role of mother in the lives of our most precious resource; our children.

I know there are some very special stories here as we explore what it means to be a mother.

I hope some of you will share your messages to the mothers who have given so much to make your lives better.

They say there is nothing more American than Mom and apple pie. But, for some of us while we may enjoy apple pie from time to time, “Mom” may not be what others might expect.

Some of us see an image of Mom that matches the stereotypical TV mom that was portrayed on “Leave it To Beaver” or even “Ozzie and Harriet”  Or you might see yours more like the moms of “Married with Children” or “One Day at a Time”, or even “Family Guy.”

For some, none of these represent our Moms as we remember our fathers or grand parents who raised us.

My mother was raised by her aunt and uncle who later adopted her. Some of us are left with a void that never really gets filled; not by a traditional mother or by the parent we all wish we had.

Today we honor those mothers we remember and love; those mothers who will remain in our hearts and minds, and those mothers who might not fit the traditional description or mold.

As I worked on this service I had to push myself away from all references and examples that only reflected me and my mother. I wanted to show the diversity of those with maternal instincts. After all, we all know parents who fulfill the traditional role of mother no matter what their age, marital status, sexual orientation, or even gender.

The book we shared with the kids was meant to affirm that there are lots of ways to define a “Mom.” This week I met a man who is raising his 5 daughters, after having played a parenting role in the lives of 9 boys at one time. When I asked if he was the mother in the family, he smiled and said,
I guess I’m the mother-dad. I don’t think he’d ever thought of it that way before. He seemed proud to accept that role and his young daughter at the table beamed as she looked across at her mother-dad.

But, when we start talking about moms and trying to figure out what a mom is, we have to reflect on our own experience, our own feelings, and the color of the glasses through which we see the world will likely be a different shade of rose than those worn by the person next to us; even within our own family.

So, everything I say, and the nuggets of life I share, come from what I learned from my mother not only up to the time she died 6 years ago, but as I learn more about this extraordinary woman even today. Having said this, I have to admit I am constantly learning about other mothers and mother-dads who shape the values, lives, and dreams of the children they have shared their lives with.

During my work out in Washington State I created an after-school community service group with some of the students I worked with. We became friends with a group of young people with special needs, and the very special mothers who brought them out to share some fun times with us. I know there are fathers out there who support their kids in such activities, but it was a group of dedicated mothers who showed extraordinary caring, love, patience, and energy creating parties, picnics, and games for their children. The kids I brought learned so much from these special young people for whom life could be seen as a struggle. I learned so much from the amazing Moms who gave everything to improve the lives of their children.

A few months ago I drove a veteran down to the V.A. Hospital in Iron Mountain. As we drove down there he shared stories about his mother who is approaching 90-years. I’ve no doubt he is a product of his mother’s lessons.

He told me how she used to insist he keep working on his home work until he got it right. She would look at his work and then punch holes in it with a pencil to punctuate where corrections needed to be, or to just make him do the work over again. He didn’t tell me what she did when she decided the work was good enough or well done. But, he never forgot how she took the time to look over his work and then made him work harder to produce something acceptable.

Then he told me, once there was a group of people protesting the killing of wolves, or animals , or the wearing of furs. I don’t remember exactly. But, he said his mother put on her long mink coat, got into her Cadillac and drove down to the protest site just to drive them nuts.

You may remember that my mother protested the Gulf War, by marching in the winter, holding a protest sign, in front of the Federal Building in Grand Rapids back in the early 90’s. She was in her 70’s and alone except for her Methodist minister.

So both women set examples for their children and showed their true spirit and feelings.

I would imagine we all have memories of something someone in our lives did that made a lasting impression. They may have been our mother, or someone who served as a surrogate for her.

I used to write my mother often, first letters and then emails, to add to the conversations we had over the phone.

I often went with her to the Methodist church when I visited from out west. But, at some point I did not join her at the railing up front during Communion.

She never said anything, but I sensed some pain in her expression as she rejoined me in the pew. As I look back at it now, it feels like it was more sadness than pain.

We did talk about it years later and she shared that it did hurt to see me disengage from what had been an important part of our lives. After this discussion I wrote her this letter:

(Read “Our chosen Paths”)


She never again expressed how much she was disappointed, but for me the memory of a moment in my life when I was about 10 years old reminded me of the foundation of my mother’s love of her Christian beliefs and her love for me.

I was in Sunday school and the discussion of the Bible took us to 2 Timothy, 1.5; Saint Paul is said to have written to Timothy, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded,   now lives in you also.”

That was the first I realized my mother Eunice had named me after a boy in the Bible named Timothy.

So from that revelation long ago, to the trails-end that finds me here today, many changes and much growth have taken place.

I always knew my mother was proud of me when I helped others and when I chose a path that took me closer to my dreams.

I know she would be pleased to see the opportunities I have here in this place, and to see the dear friends here who are bringing love, kindness, and passion to my life.

If I could say a few words to her right now I would say, “Mom, these are the kinds of people you had always hoped I would fill my life with, and this is the kind of work you wanted me to share with you.

I arrived by a different path, but am here because of you. Happy Mother’s Day Mom. I love you.”


The Balancing Act XI – May 2013




mopping floors/cleaning appliances,

walking briskly/meditating calmly,

re-connecting/meeting new folks at UU services (Ft. Lauderdale, Chicago) and the Heartland District Assembly (Muncie, IN),

guessing privately/planning together openly,

eating at a Haitian restaurant with one daughter (Miami Beach)/eating a meal cooked by my other daughter’s boyfriend (Chicago)

singing a prayer/listening to the rain on the window panes


Though I love being with my daughters, it is always good to come home to my dog, Chum, cared for so lovingly by MUUC member, Shirley Zimmer. Good to come home to my Soul to Soul group and a beautiful service with our UU Congregation led by Nancy Irish (April 21). Good to come home to our UU Meeting House where we laugh and cry; re-connect and clean-up; guess a bit and plan some; eat Sari Embley’s scones and drink sweetwater from the Doughtys; welcome new members and welcome Gail Griffith’s hug to the whole congregation; acknowledge the talents of young adult members and youth and offer appreciation prayer flags to honor Alice McMahon’s contributions; have Bodhi White walk in and say “Hi, Barb,” and have Tom Sullivan call to say he found the banner poles to use with our banner at our final Central Midwest District Assembly – before the merger with Heartland and Prairie Star Districts to create the new MidAmerica Region of the UUA.

By the time you read this, Laura Nagle and I will be back from Waukesha, WI garnering ideas to share (from the District Assembly), particularly with the RE Committee and Board, our main focuses. Perhaps we’ll also share ideas to carry out social action projects as we walk our faith – and perhaps a new song to share. With networking, workshops, services, and talks which cross over various ministries, we’re sure to learn much to bring back to MUUC, a strong foundation in my life.

Thank you to all who made a monetary pledge to the congregation for 2013-14. On May 19 we will be holding our Annual Congregation Meetingfollowing the service. Lunch snacks will be provided, and child care will be available. In our lay-led form of ministries, there will be an opportunity for you to sign up to be on an MUUC committee and/or help with a special project or work with our children and youth. Setting a great example, as Cherokee Helms-Gleason prepares to end her time on the Board, she plans to join the Indoor and Outdoor Aesthetics Committee. The Board is planning a short meeting this year with a bit of MUUC entertainment you won’t want to miss.

You will have two opportunities prior to the May 19 Annual Meeting to ask questions and offer comments regarding the budget for fiscal year 2013-14. The first will be at the May 5 adult forum at 9:45 am and another will be at the May Board meeting at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, May 7. Copies of the budget will be available at those times, from gg gordon or me, and at the Annual Meeting on May 19th. Please mark your calendars.

Mili White and Nell Gabell, this year’s Nominating Committee for Board members, are proposing the following slate of members for the MUUC Board for two years: Mary Maki (new), Sarah Redmond (continuing after 10 mos.), and Teri Rockwood (continuing after 7 mos.).

The Nominating Committee for the Mediation Council is announcing Mona Varney as a nominee. (Gary Stark and Paula Kiesling will remain on the Mediation Council.) 

There will also be a vote on some changes in our bylaws, which you will find in this issue of the Chronicle or in the May 2nd This ‘n’ That. 

Happy Mother’s Day to anyone who has ever served in a Mother, Grandmother or substitute-Mom role! As we balance creative ways to make Moms happy in the 21st century, let us remember this month that the first Mother’s Day was one of peace brought to us by Unitarian Julia Ward Howe, who said in her 1872 Mother’s Day Proclamation: “Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs”…and on Memorial Day let us remember those who were the victims of war and violence and all loved ones who have passed on. May we celebrate their lives and peace! As school psychologist and UU RE teacher, L.D. Moore, would remind kids: “Peace is fun!”  Julia Ward Howe spent most of her life in Boston…perhaps little Martin Richard’s thoughts (“No more hurting people. PEACE”) were passed down through the ages or from his parents or from within.

In shared ministry,

Barbara Michael 

MUUC Board President