The DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church exists as a beacon of liberal religious thought and practice. Amid the challenges and changes of a chaotic world, we aspire to proclaim and embody the possibilities of meaning in human life, of freedom in human thought, and of peace and justice in human community.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sunday Service: Irrational Hope - Sunday December 7th, 2014

Irrational Hope
Reverend Tom Capo
Preached Sunday December 7th, 2014

I offer this poem by Vineet Bansal for your reflection:
What hope means
Hope is bright shining light which keeps darkness at bay
Hope is gentle cold breeze on a hot summer day
Hope is to remain positive when going gets tough
Hope is seeking more when others think you had enough
What hope means
Hope is dreaming of tomorrow
Hope is simmering under sorrow
Hope is sparkles when tears are in our eyes
Hope is a beautiful thing & beautiful things never die
What hope means
Hope is as light as a feather
Hope keeps all of us together
Hope is ubiquitous and free of cost
Hope is the last thing ever lost..... 

David McRaney in his book You are not so smart wrote:
    “The misconception: If you are in a bad situation, you will do whatever you can to escape it.  The truth: If you feel like you aren’t in control of your destiny, you will give up and accept whatever situation you are in.
    In 1965, a psychologist named Martin Seligman started shocking dogs.  He was trying to expand on the research of Pavlov—the guy who could make dogs salivate when they heard a bell ring.  Seligman wanted to head in the other direction, and when he rang his bell, instead of providing food, he zapped the dogs with electricity.  To keep them still, he restrained them in a harness during the experiment.  After they were conditioned, he put these dogs in a big box with a little fence dividing it into two halves.  He figured if [he] rang the bell, [the dog] would hop over the fence to escape, but it didn’t.  It just sat there and braced itself.  They decided to try shocking the dog after the bell.  The dog still sat there and took it.  When they put a dog in the box that had never been shocked before, or had previously been allowed to escape, and tried to zap it—it jumped the fence.  [McRaney asserts:]      You are just like these dogs…The leading theory as to how such a strange behavior would evolve is that it often springs from all organisms’ desire to conserve resources.  If you can’t escape a source of stress, it leads to more stress, and this positive feedback loop eventually triggers an autonomic shutdown.  At its most extreme, you think if you keep struggling you might die.  If you stop [struggling], there is a chance the bad thing will go away.”  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sunday Service: Food and Religion - November 23st, 2014

Food and Religion
By Reverend Tom Capo
Preached on November 23, 2014

    What is the significance of food as it relates to spirituality or religious tradition?  In Steve’s story, little Carrie travels to different homes looking for her brother, but instead finds various cultural dishes made with rice.  Just like Carrie, I spent much of last week exploring the ways in which various religions include food in their rituals and traditions.  In this journey from virtual house to house, I was surprised by what I feasted upon.
    Our journey starts with the Sikh religious home. The Golden Temple Complex is the Central worship place for Sikhs around the world, and it is in Punjab, India.  The Sikhs are serving a free communal meal known as Langar.  The concept of `Langar' is a very old tradition of great importance for the Sikhs.  This tradition was started by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak. It was designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people regardless of religion, caste, color, creed, age, gender or social status.  This was a revolutionary concept in the caste-ordered society of 16th century India where Sikhism began. In addition to the ideals of equality, the tradition of Langar expresses the ethics of sharing, community, inclusiveness and oneness of all humankind.
    Let’s now head to the Christian religious home.  I grew up Catholic and I felt I had some knowledge of this religion and food.  Communion.  The little wafer and a sip of wine that is given out in remembrance of Jesus Christ.   According to the Catholic faith, this wafer and wine is transubstantiated, actually becomes, the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  In Protestant Christian traditions, this wafer and wine is either though to be consubstantiated, that is, becoming the body and blood of Christ while still being wafer and wine, or is thought of more metaphorically, not actually changing.  The wafer and wine are used to remember Jesus, his wisdom and life.  But what is interesting to me is that this tradition of bread and wine didn’t really become part of the worship service in the Catholic Church until the time of Constantine around 313 CE.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sunday Service: ISIS and the Middle East - November 16th, 2014

   ISIS and the Middle East
By Reverend Tom Capo  

    “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up swords against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; but they shall all sit under their own vines and fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid.”  This quote from the Jewish Bible prophet Micah is a statement of hope for our world.  I wish I could say that this is happening right now, but I’d have to be blind to the many wars and atrocities that are occurring in so many places.  This image of the Tao with peace and justice represents the complexity that we face.  I believe all of us would prefer that the human race would sit together peacefully under vines and trees with no-one prodding us, through words or actions, to be afraid, but that, most emphatically, is not the world we live in.  How do we balance justice with peace? 
     What has been on my heart for some time has been the group ISIS, also known as ISL or the Islamic State or Isil or Daesh.  This splinter group from the Al-Queda network has taken over vast swaths of Iraq and Syria.  They are well armed, extremely well-funded, and have lots of people from around the world volunteering to fight for them.  They have used mass killings, beheadings, intimidation, and fear to control their own soldiers as well as the people in the cities that they have taken over.  As far as I know, they seem to have no interest in peaceful dialogue as a means to their ends.   Unitarian minister, Transcendentalist, orator, and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.”  So how do we reach an understanding with people who have no interest in any understanding beyond, “join us or die?” How do we reconcile Emerson’s lofty philosophy with the fact of a violent fundamentalist group whose rampage must be halted?
    I am increasingly disturbed and, let’s be honest, afraid of what they are doing and what they might do.  I am having some flashbacks to feelings that I had during 9-11 when the twin towers were destroyed and the country was afraid—having experienced a  catastrophic foreign terrorist attack on United States soil for the first time in modern history.  I remember my irrational fear while interacting with a Middle-eastern stranger in a grocery store a few days after the attack.  Yet, after a time, I was able to find an inner peace. I chose not to live in fear; I chose not to give power over my behavior to a group that wanted me to be afraid; and I chose not to treat my Middle-eastern and Islamic brothers and sisters differently because of what some extremists chose to do.
     What’s helping me cope this time is an experience I had about 6 years ago, while serving in Cedar Rapids.  Tensions were high between the Jewish and the Islamic communities due to what was going on in the Middle East.  People here in the United States had family and friends who had been wounded or were in imminent danger due to the fighting in Israel.   The Rabbi at the time defended the right of the people of Israel to protect themselves against the bombings of innocents, and one of the Imams compared the Israelis’ persecution of the Palestinians along the West Bank to the Holocaust.  They took this dialogue to Facebook, and predictably, the tension between the two groups escalated.  A number of faith leaders in Cedar Rapids, of which I was one, decided to hold a Peace service on neutral ground, the Unitarian Universalist church that I was serving.  Both the Imam and the Rabbi were invited and attended.  They consciously put aside their reactive and inflammatory words.  The Rabbi said a beautiful, elegant, and loving prayer for the Palestinian children along the West Bank.  Then the Iman stood up, thanking the Rabbi for his words while he shook his hand, and then prayed for peace for all the people who live in Israel.  Some of you may be sitting there thinking, “so what? That didn’t solve the conflict in the Middle East.”  And you’re right, it didn’t.   But it did bring peace to our own multi-national community.  In a sense, we thought globally and acted locally, and the result was peace between the Jewish and Islamic communities in Cedar Rapids.
    The Rabbi prayed for the children, just as we did today in our prayer.  But again I wonder what is the balance between protection and love—how do we know when we go too far in one direction, thinking of protection, and believing that we are at war primarily because we are safeguarding the world for our children or our children’s children?  Mother Teresa wrote:  “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”  The Rabbi and the Imam remembered that we belong to one another, but there are so many in our world who forget.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sunday Service: Spiritual Practices - November 9th, 2014

Spiritual Practices  
By Reverend Tom Capo  
As one of my spiritual practices, I read and reflect on a number of passages from different religious traditions.  Many of the passages I receive by email each day.  On October 26, I received this passage from Eknath Easwaran, the founder of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation: “Without a tank full of gas, no car can drive very far. The mind, too, needs a full tank of vitality to draw on for patience, resilience, and creativity. Filling that tank every morning is one of the most practical purposes of meditation. The test of your meditation is: How long can you be patient with those around you? In the beginning, you should aim to make it at least to noon acting like the proverbial angel.  Most of us, however, even if we start with a full tank, have little control over the thousand and one little pinpricks that drain vitality as we go along: worry, vacillation, irritation, daydreaming. By lunchtime the indicator may be hovering around empty.  Then it is that you have to be acutely vigilant. The tank is nearly empty, but by sheer effort and deft defensive driving, and using the mantram, you manage to coast through to the end of the day without any serious accidents.  The more effort you make, the more endurance you gain. The next day you may find the tank itself a little larger; you start the next day with a greater capacity for love and patience than before.” A spiritual practice, at least from my perspective, serves a number of purposes:  filling our vitality tank, grounding us in the truest part of ourselves, opening us up for enlightenment or deeper understanding of ourselves and the world, and connecting us to something greater than our own desires, needs, and feelings.

Ok, so, those are some purposes, but what the heck is a spiritual practice?  Well, let’s start with characteristics and then consider a definition that might be useful, that might help us to decide what spiritual practice we could incorporate into our lives or what characteristics we might add to our current practices.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sunday Service: Environmental Justice - October 19th, 2014

Environmental Justice
By Reverend Tom Capo
10 19 2014

The story of Jonah and the Very Big Fish is memorable.  When I was young all I remember is Jonah getting eaten by the whale and traveling around the sea.  But as you heard there is much more to this story.  Jonah didn’t want to help or warn the people of Nineveh because he didn’t feel they were worthy—they were wicked and an enemy of Israel.  Eventually he gave in and passed on the message and the people changed.  Now I am not Jonah nor are you.  But aren’t there times, when you feel like feel like a Jonah?  You try to tell others about the need to care for mother earth.  You do it over and over and again, until you just get tired.  You don’t think people are hearing you anyway, so why tell them one more time?  Like Jonah, you come to think of those people who refuse to listen as enemies.  People who aren’t helping mother earth, who are denying climate change, who aren’t going to listen to you anyway because they’re just, well, “wicked.”  You find no motivation within yourself to keep speaking truth to power, because power just doesn’t care.  So where can you find the motivation to continue working for environmental justice?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Resources: Those Who Are Homeless

Reverend Tom's powerful sermon last Sunday was paired so well by music, story, and video.  Asking each of us to start seeing the person behind the box - to start giving to all in the ways we can.

We encourage you to watch, listen, read some of the amazing pieces that helped make the sermon so powerful.

In addition, if you can give of your time, your energy, or your resources DUUC works with the following local groups to end homelessness and provide temporary (and long-term) housing.

DuPage County PADS

Bridge Communities

The Lady in the Box written by Ann McGovern
(find it at your local library or hometown bookseller!)

(Youth RE Director Steve Cooper reads The Lady in the Box)

Make Them Visible Campaign Video

Would You Harbor Me?
Song by Ysaye M. Barnwell 
Performace by the Choral Project (almost as flawless as our own DUUC choir's performance!)

Song by Paul Simon and Joseph Shabalala
Performance Ladysmith Black Mombazo

DUUC congregants were invited to decorate some of the boxes that will be used for  Sleep Out Saturday.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Spotlight on UU: Steve Connet

**Editor's note:  we took a break over the summer from our monthly spotlight.  Each month we ask congregant from DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church (DUUC) five questions and post their responses here on our blog.  We hope that old friends get to know each other better and new friends can find a friendly face when they visit!**

Spotlight on UU
Five Questions with DUUC Congregant Steve Connet

How did you find DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church? 
My parents were introduced to the church by a childhood friend of my moms.  I sort of came along for the ride.

What makes you keep coming back?
The feeling that other congregants are part of my family.

What has been your most memorable moment here?
I don't have a single memorable moment.
(Editor's note:  Steve may not want to commit to one single moment but he has been part of many memorable moments for the rest of us!  He is a friendly face, formidable Quiddler opponent and giver of incredible hugs!)

Where is your favorite spot to sit in the sanctuary? Why?
I haven't found "my spot" yet.  I find myself in the A/V loft more often than any other location.  At least in part because I enjoy seeing what is going on behind the scenes (on those days when I am not actually working there).

What are you currently participating at here at DUUC? 
I am currently on the A/V, Visitor Relations and Buildings Committees and also work as a Greeter.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sunday Service: Those Who Are Homeless - October 12th, 2014

Those Who Are Homeless
Reverend Tom

I have had many experiences with homeless people.  As I share some of them with you, I ask you to reflect on your experiences with people who are homeless.  

I was one of the initiators of a homeless emergency shelter program in Cedar Rapids called Family Promise.  I felt this was a vital program; it provides shelter for three intact families—meaning the father and male teenagers could join the rest of the family in the shelter, which is not the case in most homeless shelters—these three families would stay within church buildings at night and a day shelter during the day, if they were not at work or in school.  However, it wasn’t until I actually spent time with one homeless family in this program that I came to understand how being homeless profoundly affects a person.  I mean I knew from what I had read and what others had said to me, but my friends that is very different from actually spending time with someone who is homeless.  I brought a meal to a mother, her preteen daughter, and 6 year old son.  As we ate she talked about how she had a job but did not make enough money to buy a vehicle or rent an apartment.  She was trying to get a better job, and had hopes of leaving the Family Promise program very soon.  Her daughter was very quiet as we ate together, and after the meal found a corner in the church building to sit and read.  Her son was a ball of energy.  He wanted to play and had no-one to play with.  So I spent an hour or so throwing a ball around a large community room with him.  He seemed to really have a great time.  But having so much energy was taxing on his mother, who at times, demonstrated an abruptness with her son that showed the pervasive exhaustion that being homeless can cause.  I understood on a visceral level how this young woman craved someone to affirm her worth and dignity.  As she first entered the room for dinner, her depression weighed so heavily on her shoulders that she walked hunched over and her eyes were downcast.  After some time in conversation, with me, though it could have been anyone who would listen to her, her eyes brightened, her body seemed to gain some strength, and she eventually relaxed enough to lean against the table as we talked as if we had known each other for years.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

About that homeless, mentally ill, and intoxicated man

**Editor's Note:  The service on Sunday October 12th was an incredibly moving sermon on the easily forgotten human element of homelessness.  The following post was written by DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church congregant, and frequent blog contributor, Ruth Elliott.**

Today the service was about homelessness. I wrote this in the Spring, and thought it was appropriate for the blog today. - Ruth Elliott

Dear Well Intentioned Friend,
I know your intentions were not unkind when we talked the other day. I'm certain you had no idea the affect your story would have on me, and I'm somewhat ashamed I didn't speak up more clearly at the time.
homelessOkay, here's the thing. Your story? About your daughter's dance class being threatened by a lone homeless man, the one where the instructors bravely hid all the girls (who 'were practically dressed in bikinis') in the locker room to protect them? The story where the lone homeless man who may have been intoxicated, who likely was mentally ill  (spoken with your voice lowered), had come into the lounge near the studio and sat down to watch the tv, you remember? Do you remember telling me how horrified you were, what danger these girls were in. Do you remember when you first described the man that I said, poor thing, he was probably just looking somewhere safe to rest?
Here are some things I didn't tell you. I have worked with homeless people for the last ten years. Yes, many are mentally ill, many are alcoholic or addicts or both. All of them suffer greatly. All of them are human beings, who love and are loved by someone. I didn't point out that mental illness and substance abuse are medical illnesses, just like cancer, or diabetics. I also didn't mention the reason many of them are homeless is because of inadequate resources to treat these disorders,and the tremendous negative stigma that goes along with being homeless, with being an alcoholic, with being an addict.
At one point while you were describing in great detail how horrifying and dangerous this man was, I did manage to quietly say, just like my son. I don't think you caught my meaning. I don't think you understood that what I was saying was that my son is homeless, that my son is mentally ill, that my son is an addict, that my son has curled up in all sorts of places trying to get some sleep, some comfort. I don't think you realized that while you talked about saving these girls from this threat, all I could see is the countless cruelties that the homeless, mentally ill suffer, that my son suffers. The diseases themselves and the heartbreak they cause to families are bad enough, but the stigma that well intentioned people attach to them and then use as a justification to treat them badly, as something less than human, and something not worth compassion, or love or comfort, the stigma is the worst of it all.
Change mentally ill to someone with cancer, with diabetics, suddenly it seems horrifying that someone suffering from cancer, or uncontrolled diabetes would be ostracized, would be seen as a threat to children.
Eventually all I could see was someone treating my son with the horror and disdain you very eloquently described, all I could see was the pain and the humiliation he has suffered. All I could see was my little boy being threatened, and there was nothing, absolutely nothing I could do to save him. All I could feel was all the pain and the heartbreak of the last several years as I fought to keep my son sane, sober and safe. You see, my well intentioned friend, I too am a mother, a very protective one, and I do understand the overwhelming desire to protect my children. My daughters took dance when they were young, I did my time sitting in studios, going to recitals, I do understand that part, to this day I would do anything to keep them safe. I also love my son with the same intensity, and I have done, and still do everything I can to protect him. Sadly with his disease part of doing what's best for him and my daughters is to let him hit a bottom so he can hopefully one day come back to me.
I couldn't tell you any of this. All I could do was to cover my face to hide the tears and run away. When I got to my car I sat for a very long while until I stopped crying and could drive home.
The other thing I didn't tell you is what I may have in common with the homeless man, I'm an alcoholic. I was raised by one and am related to several. The disease runs rampant in my family. I've been told to say I'm a person in long term recovery, meaning I'm sober and have been so for quite some time. I don't generally tell people this, because unlike, say cancer survivors, there aren't any coloured ribbons, or fun walks for alcoholics or addicts, even the clean and sober ones. People don't look at you as someone who has fought - and remains constantly vigilant - against a chronic and deadly illness, and survived, people see a drunk, an addict, someone who has a flaw in their moral character, someone who cant' be trusted, someone you can't leave your children with (yes, I have been at the receiving end of all these attitudes) people look at you as something that is less than normal people. That's why I don't generally share that about myself. That is also why when you told me about the homeless man the first thing I felt was empathy for him, and the pain he must feel at fear and loathing that he experienced in your daughter's dance studio, and likely just about everywhere else he goes.
I didn't tell you any of this, because these things are usually too raw for me to say out loud. These things have brought judgement and negative stigma on me and my family, and some days I'm just not up to saying out loud that this is wrong. This is so very wrong. That it is not okay to view people as less than. No is less than anyone else. I think if people could get that straight in their heads the world could be a more compassionate and beautiful place.
So, maybe, next time you see a homeless person, someone who is mentally ill, intoxicated,maybe, you could let some compassion enter your viewpoint, and not let fear guide your thinking and actions, maybe you could lead with kindness and compassion, just a little at first. Or maybe you could, just for a moment, reexamine the way you view the homeless, the mentally ill, the addicted, the alcoholic. Maybe that could be a start.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sunday Service: A Hunger for Justice - October, 5th, 2014

A Hunger For Justice
Reverend Tom Capo
October 5, 2014

We affirm justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.  I’m going to ask you the same question I asked last month when we explored “Beloved Community.”  What does “affirm” really mean to us, individually and as a congregation? What does “affirm” really look like? Many of you do work in the community, or perhaps in your jobs, to help others, to fight injustice, to educate those who are unaware of the some of the human, animal, and ecological crises our world faces.  I know that many of you are yearning, hungry for justice, equity, and compassion in our world.

What does it mean really mean to be “hungry for justice?”  Are these just words we bandy about during coffee hour and snack after the service?  “Here, have some fair trade chocolate.”  “Thanks I am hungry for justice!”  Is it a personal question?  “I got detention because I was sitting next to the person who was disrupting class.  But it wasn’t me!  I was just sitting there!  It’s totally not fair and I’m going to get my parents to file a complaint!  I am hungry for justice!”  Or is it a different kind of personal question?  “I’ve read the Unitarian Universalist Association’s 2013-2014 Common Read Behind the Kitchen Door, about wage inequality and unfair working conditions in the majority of our nation’s restaurants.  I am hungry for justice and I’m going to do something about this.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sunday Service: Not Just I, Community is We - September 21st, 2014

Not just I, Community is We
Reverend Tom Capo

A long long time ago
I can still remember how the music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe the’d be happy for a while
But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step
Great works of art, music included, ask the viewer or listener to bring a little of themselves into the experience.  Thus, the meaning of art or music is constantly shifting little, nuanced by whatever the viewer’s or listen’s life, wherever they are on their journey.  Don McLean, the writer and composer of “American Pie” never really talked about what he was trying to say when he wrote the song.  Many other people have attributed meaning to it.  Some say that McLean was talking about the turbulent 60’s, some that McLean was expressing regret over the death of the civil rights movement, some that McLean was bemoaning the death of danceable rock and roll music.  Some have written that McLean was grieving for what he perceived as the death of religion and other traditional ideas from his childhood.   Others have found what they believe to be references to rock musicians Buddy Holly,Janis Joplin, and the Beatles, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and politicians President Jack Kennedy, and Senator Bobby Kennedy.  And we hear names in the song, including communist and socialist revolutionaries Vladimir Lenin, and Karl Marx, in addition to the Catholic Trinity, the father, son, and holy ghost, and actor James Dean.  What could this song have to do with beloved community?  So, how does “America Pie” speak to us about being in covenant with one another as a beloved community?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sunday Service: How Do We Love Another - September 14th, 2014

How Do We Love One Another
Reverend Tom Capo

I often use the phrase “Beloved Community.”  Do you wonder what I mean by that?  Have you ever asked yourself “how do I act if I am part of a beloved community?”  I’m curious about what each of us means by this term.  I believe we are all on the same page with community—a group of people gathered together for a purpose.  But what about beloved?  Are we talking about infatuation, puppy love, conditional love, parental love, soul-mate love, divine or spiritual love, patriotism (love of country), tough love, self-love?  No matter how many definitions or synonyms you might find—and there are a lot—chances are none of them completely captures the full meaning of love.
I have come to believe what the great psychoanalyst Erich Fromm says about love: “Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.”  In other words my friends, love is not a feeling.  Although it is so very easy to assume that it is.  Really, love causes a feeling; love is a decision you make, and decisions you continue to make, in order to create an experience that is described as love.  

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sunday Sermon: Ingathering Service & Water Communion - September 7th, 2014

Ingathering Service 2014
Water Communion
Reverend Tom Capo
Story--The Water Bearer's Garden  (Reverend Tom)
(From uu & me! Collected Stories, edited by Betsy Hill Williams; Boston: Skinner House, 2003). 

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on one end of a pole that he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it. At the end of the long walk from the stream on the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. For two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master's house.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."
"Why?" asked the bearer, "What are you ashamed of?"
"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house.
Because of my flaws, you have to do all this work, and you don't get full value from our efforts," the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt sad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on our side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.
"We all have our own unique flaws. We are all cracked pots. In the great web of life, nothing goes to waste. Don't be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them, and you too can be the cause of beauty. Know that in our weakness we find our strength.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sunday Sermon: Where Are We Going - August 17th, 2014

“Where Are We Going” 
By Reverend Tom Capo

Here is a future of Unitarian Universalism: Chalice Man and his Friend, the Flame, save people from fundamentalist beliefs and spread the message of Unitarian Universalism to all those in need of our free faith telling everyone that they meet about a faith home where people can responsibly search for truth and meaning without creeds or dogmas.
Actually, this probably isn’t the future of Unitarian Universalism.  But what is? 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sunday Sermon: Who We Are (in Unitarian Universalism) Today - August 10th, 2014

“Who Are We (in Unitarian Universalism) Today”
By Reverend Tom Capo
August 10, 2014
The God of Abraham said to Moses: “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
Now you might wonder why I started out with this excerpt from the Jewish Torah.  Well, to explain this, let me start with a little about myself.  I grew up Catholic and when I was in High School I realized that I no longer held the same beliefs as the other people in my church.  I did not believe that women shouldn’t use contraception; I didn’t believe that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose whether to have a child or not; I no longer believed in the Trinity—a Father-God, Son-God, and Holy Spirit-God, all in one.  I found myself unable to participate in Communion or Confession; I could no longer even say the Lord’s Prayer.  I felt in exile from the faith of my childhood.  And I quickly realized that I would no longer fit in any Christological faith home.  I was in exile from all Christian churches, an exile that was imposed by myself, yes, but also imposed by churches that would only welcome me if I accepted and professed their dogma.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Human Spirit with Rev. Tom

Sunday marked the beginning of a new chapter at DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church (DUUC) as Reverend Tom Capo lead his first Sunday service.

You can read all about Rev. Tom's journey join DUUC HERE and share in our excitement to have him as the minister to our congregation and local community.

Rev. Tom will be contributing to this blog and in time we hope to have his sermons (both video and script) available for all through this forum.

In addition we are pleased that he will be journaling his own experience in ministry at:

His first posting is up and we invite our congregants and friends to read his First Reflection.

We also welcome you every week to join us on Sunday for our service, coffee/lemonade social hour, and youth religious education

*Remember - through August we hold one Sunday Service at 10:00am*  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Summertime at DUUC!

Picnics, watermelon, bike rides, swimming, flip-flops,  BBQs, and popsicles.  We all look forward to different things in the summer!

Here at DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church (DUUC) we celebrate summer with our sermons, adventures together, activities on-site, and a change in our service schedule.

Starting this Sunday, June 15th, we will have one regular service at 10:00am.  Please mark your calendars for service:  SUNDAYS AT 10:00am

We just kicked off the summer with our annual BBQ, a pancake breakfast (see Chef Michael on our Facebook page) and have lots more fun planned!  Please join us this summer and add DUUC as one of your summertime pleasures!

Dates to remember as follows:

Sunday 6/15:  Sunday Service and Youth Religious Education @ 10:00am

Saturday 6/21:  Summer Solstice Celebration @ 4:00pm

Sunday 6/22:  June 22nd, 2014:  Sunday Service and Youth Religious Education @ 10:00am

Sunday 6/29:  Chicago Gay Pride Parade
(a group from DUUC will walk together in support of the LGBT community meeting at DUUC at 9:00am to carpool)

Sunday 6/29:  Sunday Service and Youth Religious Education @ 10:00am

Sunday 7/6:  Sunday Service and Youth Religious Education @ 10:00am

For more details on our service topics, or contact information for the above mentioned events, please check our our church newsletter HERE

Monday, June 2, 2014

Our Minister, Our Friend: Celebrating the Ministry of Emmy Lou Belcher

On Sunday we celebrated the 25 years of service in UU Ministry of Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher.  It was a tremendous celebration fitting for Emmy Lou. Emmy Lou has served our community at DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church (DUUC) since 2005 with spirit and compassion, a fire for social justice, and a desire to connect with her community.

We invite those of you who were not able to attend the celebration to view the video of the service here.

DUUC has benefited greatly from the leadership and care Emmy Lou has given to both the individual members at DUUC and to our congregation in whole.  We wish her all the best as she begins this new chapter, and all the adventures that will come with it!

Thank you Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Speak flowers, speak! Our UU Flower Communion

Speak flowers, speak!  At the end of each service year we gather together to celebrate the time we have shared together, the community we have worked to build, and to wish the summer season in.

Please join us for our  Flower Communion on Sunday June 1st at 9:30am.

This annual ritual of our church is called the Unitarian flower communion. Developed by the Unitarian minister in Prague, Czechoslovakia, before WWII, it has become a favorite of many of our congregations. Bring a flower with you, and bring the children as this a time for the whole congregation to participate together in a ritual.

From the Unitarian Universalist Association the beauty of the communion is described this way:  
The significance of the flower communion is that as no two flowers are alike, so no two people are alike, yet each has a contribution to make. Together the different flowers form a beautiful bouquet. Our common bouquet would not be the same without the unique addition of each individual flower, and thus it is with our church community, it would not be the same without each and every one of us. Thus this service is a statement of our community.

Please visit our website HERE for current events and directions.  For more information about the flower communion please feel free to visit the Unitarian Universalist Association.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Unbroken Circle: Mental Health Awareness

DUUC Editor's Note:   May is Mental Health Month.  In addition to the national advocacy for and awareness of mental health issues our congregation has been working on creating an atmosphere of understanding and care in regards to mental health.  We recently hosted a training seminar for Mental Health First Aid  and our pastoral care group is working to strengthen our community as a place for support.  In this blog post one of our congregants, Paul Sellnow, explores the taboo behind mental health and shares with us a piece of his own journey.  For more information on mental health issues and awareness visit the National Alliance on Mental Health

A few days ago, one of my coworkers arrived at the office just before lunchtime and announced "I'm late because I had to drive my wife to the doctor's office. She broke her arm roller skating last night." He did not seem the least bit embarrassed by his wife's apparent lack of rinkmanship, nor did he appear to have any reservations about her character or strength of will.

Most of us are comfortable talking about physical injuries and ailments. I've broken three bones, and each of them has a story behind it. I'm not the least bit squeamish telling you that I have had my gall bladder removed. I hesitate slightly when mentioning my incident with thyroid cancer, only because the "C" word can cause needless consternation on the part of listeners. (Completely treated, more than five years ago, no cause for concern.)

Other topics in our lives may be more intimidating. Some of us may feel awkward talking about money or political views, concerned that relationships with those of different positions may be strained. Some of us may be reluctant to discuss sexual orientation or religious beliefs, worried that family or friends may not approve and may even break off relations and cut us out of their lives. These can be difficult conversations, but a healthy respect for the inherent worth and dignity of the other person will often get us through.

Mental illness, however, retains a stigma in many people's minds despite years of progress in diagnosis and treatment. I've never heard anyone arrive late to work saying "sorry I'm late, my wife had a schizophrenic episode and I had to have her committed." Yet everyone should know that mental illness is a brain disorder, not a character flaw or a lack of willpower, and definitely not a choice. We should be able to talk about it as openly as we would an appendectomy or tonsillectomy.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Life with addiction, mental illness and stigma

DUUC Editor's Note: Our fellow congregant,Ruth Elliott, has graciously shared with us her family's journey of addiction, mental illness and facing the stigma that goes with each. Ruth previously shared this story with our congregation and we appreciate her sharing it again here.

It started about 9 years ago with a handwriting tutor.  In grade three Graham’s handwriting was terrible. I found him a handwriting tutor and drove him there three times a week until we realized it wasn’t having any effect on his handwriting. Over the next year it became clear it was something more than sloppy penmanship, it was like his brain was going way too fast for his hand to keep up. I found him a psychologist, had him tested and to absolutely no one’s surprise he was diagnosed with ADHD, and so started a long and inglorious period where I became an expert on 504 education plans, communicating with teachers, school social workers, and psychologists. I learned everything I could about the –constantly changing - prescribed medications and while I was at it I tweaked his already pretty healthy diet in an effort to improve his concentration and focus. At some point he told me he was seeing colors that weren't there, I had his eyes checked – all normal, and chocked it up to an intelligent and creative kid’s imagination.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spotlight on UU: Susan Birk

Spotlight on DuPage Unitarian Univeralist Congregant:  Susan Birk
(Each month DUUC spotlights a member of our congregation and asks them for a peek into their relationship with DUUC)

How did you find DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church?
We used to go to Diversity Dinners, which is run by DUUC member Stephanie Downs Hughes. One night, we were supposed to bring an image that really meant something to us. Stephanie brought a framed image of the 7 Principles. When she read the 7 Principals, it was the first time I had ever felt a connection to a religion of any kind. I didn't know anything about Unitarian Universalism, but the 7 Principles embodied the ideas I already believed in. My husband, David, was reading about the Jefferson Bible and Thomas Jefferson’s connection to Unitarianism. That led him to the DUUC website. We decided to visit DUUC. We've been members for about four years.

What keeps you coming back?
We love many of the services by Emmy Lou Belcher because they inspire us to work on being better people. We like that they’re both spiritual and intellectual.
We've met so many wonderful people here. This is an activist church that is really involved in supporting the community. The green thrust is
especially important to me.

What has been your most memorable moment here?
The new member recognition service when we became members. That was when I realized I
had really made a commitment to UU-ism. I felt like I had found my spiritual home.

Where is your favorite spot to sit in the new sanctuary?
I somehow end up in the front on the right a lot.

What have you participated in here at DUUC?
I’m on the Public Ministry, Marketing and Green Sanctuary committees. There are so many ways to get involved!

Get to know Susan and our other fellow congregants at our next service or activity!  You can find what we are doing, both at sanctuary and in our community by visiting our website!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Heart Talk: Youth Religious Education

Photo Credit: "Rainbow paper heart bunting" by the green gables Flickr 
©Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

We are midway through our Spring session of Youth Religious Education (Y.R.E) 
here at DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church. It is great to see our young congregants meeting together, forming friendships, and discussing great things together. 

This session, in our 1st - 6th grade classes we are using a new (to us!) curriculum called Heart Talk for Kids©. 

Heart Talk for Kids© is based on Compassionate  (Nonviolent) Communication. Curriculum designers Debbie Berkana and Veronica  Lassen, were inspired to create Heart Talk because of their passion for creating  more connection and peace on the planet. 

The main intention is to create a space where people truly see each other. This 
space of respectful connection is a place that honors the ‘inherent worth and dignity of every person.’ It is a space that allows us to live our UU values. Each lesson in the curriculum includes specific references to one or more UU Principles.

Sample of Lesson Topics:- Heart Talk Introduction - Observation - Feelings - Human Universal Needs- Requests - Self-Empathy - Exploring Anger - 6th grade classes, we are using a new (to us!) curriculum - Gratitude and Celebration - Observation in Nature - Empathy and Conflict Resolution Empathy for Others - Anger, Empathy and Conflict Resolution - Peace and Contribution 

If you have a child in the Y.R.E program we encourage you to spend some time discussing their classroom theme for the day and their thoughts on the topic. OurY.R.E children have amazing insight and the lesson themes encourage openness and discussion.

For more information on Heart Talk for Kids© or the research that led to its creation please visit:www.heartvistas.com Debbie and Veronica live in the Pacific Northwest and arecommitted to growing luscious tomatoes, happy children and peace. 

www.cnvc.org : international Nonviolent Communication (NVC) website with information on NVC activities worldwide. You can also find a list of feelings and 
universal needs there.

www.nonviolentcommunication.com : Puddledancer Press, publisher of NVC-related materials. It includes many articles on parenting, NVC in schools, mediation, restorative justice, interviews with Marshall Rosenberg, etc.