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A thought on two unrelated astronomical occurrences
1) This coming Sunday will be the earliest sunset in 2019.This notion is confusing and I have had several people tell me it makes no sense because it is not the shortest day of the year. But it is true, the earliest sunset comes before the solstice. (And the latest sunrise comes after the solstice. Here’s a good explanation: https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/equation-of-time.html)
As I am not a morning person, it is the later sunsets that matter most to me. Knowing that the night darkness will begin later each day, if only by seconds, cheers me. I am better able to embrace the winter, appreciate all four seasons, when I know we will begin to have light later into the day.
2) Last week, as I was coming home from late-day errands, noting how early it was for it to be dark, one car at a shopping center exit was insistently coming into the flow of traffic, although we on the roadway were moving steadily. Not wanting to hit that car,…
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What is our underlying concept of Thankfulness?

What is our underlying concept of Thankfulness?

Tomorrow, in our society here in the United States, we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. This break in our usual life routines has many layers of meaning for us.

Indeed, on one level, we can take stock of where we are in our lives and what we have accumulated and feel a sense of gratitude. This level of reflection, of course, usually means we are comparing our state in life with others – leading to the typically unsaid, but thought – “I am glad I am in better shape then ….” (fill in the blank with several others you know). This thankful attitude tends to keep our competitive juices flowing.

On another level, we can approach this Thanksgiving Day, from a more relational perspective. We feel a sense of gratitude for the many people in our life - family, friends, co-workers – who have given something of themselves to us, improving our sense of well-being. Of course, this level continues to remain on the more, “I feel loved and supported by …
As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I am once again drawn to one of the cores of Spiritualism, the religion I follow in my church as its Lay Minister.This core concept is Natural Law, a collection of many natural laws.Spiritualists believe in natural laws that have been created by God/Source.When we follow these natural laws, life runs along smoothly, directing us to develop fully on our spiritual paths.When we do not follow these natural laws, problems arise that will thwart our spiritual progression.

Natural laws can be found easily in nature itself: the change of seasons, the cycle of day and night, the erosion of mountains and the courses run by rivers.Disturbances in the health of our planet may be attributed to the consequences of ill-advised human activity.

There are many natural laws involving human relationships.The “Golden Rule” tells us to treat others as we would like to be treated.The greatest of the natural laws is the natural law of love.To give love to others is to encourag…

Time and Space

"We must not forget that it is not a thing that lends significance to a moment; it is a moment that lends significance to things."

In his 1951 book, The Sabbath, Abraham Joshua Heschel  lays out the two worlds in which humans operate, space and time.

Neither space nor time is "bad" in Heschel's thinking.  But when we think of reality as only be the world of space, then "reality to us is thinghood" and "the result of our thinginess is our blindness to all reality that fails to identify itself as a thing."  Stop and think about whether or not this is true in the way you live.  Is there "poetry" in your life or only "prose?"  Is there beauty or only utility?  Is there sharing or only acquiring?

Those things that are often most important to us are not "things" in the sense we can touch or see or smell them.  It is true about love, about happiness or contentment, or even something like family.  Yet our lives are ofte…

The Real Me- Lessons From a 13 Year Old

I had a blog post all ready to go.  And then I went onto Facebook and saw this posting. After reading this post, I changed my blog entry completely.  The Facebook post was made by a colleague who works as an inclusion specialist at a large Jewish congregation in Westchester.  This woman is my mentor and my friend, and every time we interact, which is not as often as I would like, I learn something hugely valuable from her.  She passed on the beautiful poem (below) from a family that she has gotten to know over the years.  The son has Tourette's Syndrome and is celebrating his Bar Mitzvah this weekend.  In honor of his (becoming a) Bar Mitzvah, her son has dedicated himself to informing the public about Tourette's syndrome and becoming an advocate for kids like him. The mom has written this poem about her son's daily struggles and asked that synagogues read the poem from the pulpit this Shabbat. So far, 21 synagogues from around the country have signed on!

I thought it was …

Thin Places

Iona, Scotland, 2013
On All Saints Day in my tradition, and many Christian traditions, we remember those people who have passed from this world. We pause to recall the ways people who have died have touched our lives and who, even in their death, continue to touch our lives. We tell stories, light candles, and remember that we are connected with all who have gone before. On Sunday evening at Setauket Presbyterian we will gather to remember members of our community who have passed. Last Sunday our children decorated cards for the families who are grieving. These cards are colorful, bright, and a reminder that love is not ended by death. My grandmother used to tell me that this time of year is when the veil between heaven and earth is at its thinnest. She is someone who, even though she died in 2000, continues to impact my life - I like to think that veil is always somewhat thin. 
In 2013 I spend a few months living on the small Scottish island of Iona. The founder of the Iona Community
It is common practice for Unitarian Universalist ministers and their congregations to include in our Letter of Agreement (contract) provision for a sabbatical every five to seven years, accrued at a rate of one month per year, for up to six months. I’m in my ninth year of service with the UU Fellowship at Stony Brook and last year, finally, I felt the time was right to take a sabbatical. So last winter, January through March, I left my congregation to it’s own good governance, with guest coverage for every service I would have led, and emergency pastoral care coverage by various other UU ministers on our island through an exchange program we formed just for that purpose. I had two aims for the use of my time: a combo solo (with spouse) and group-tour trek down the National and State(s) Civil Rights Trail in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, and a deep immersion into Jewish studies. 
In my pursuit of the dive into Judaism, I joined North Shore Jewish Center’s (NSJC) sixteen week Juda…