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BUUF Announce

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Your weekly newsletter of events and issues 
At and Around 
Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship 

For every individual searching for spiritual meaning, 
Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
provides a welcoming and caring religious community 
dedicated to diversity of thought, social and 
environmental justice, 
and peace for all.

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Joys and Sorrows

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Twenty-two BUUFers attended BUUF's first Sunday gathering via Zoom on Sunday, March 15th, lovingly hosted by Lisa Fuller and Gretchen Ohmann. We listened to some recorded music and a brief recorded sermon. All BUUFers had an opportunity to share their joys and concerns. Many expressed concern about family members in high risk groups, in foreign countries where Covid-19 is spreading rapidly, or in industries not amenable to working from home. BUUFers also expressed concern about the lost income some families and businesses will face and the challenges children and their families may encounter with the closing of schools and libraries.  

In terms of joys, it was wonderful to have some out-of-town BUUFers join Sunday's virtual gathering, including Jeff Green and Glen & Suzi Smith. Jeff shared how the required social distancing has brought he and his wife closer together. Julie Williams is happy that it is getting warmer and she will be able to work in her garden soon. Katharine Lion is recovering well from her hip surgery.

Gretchen, Lisa and others are planning to continue with the virtual Sunday gatherings on a weekly basis. More details can be found later in this newsletter. 

It is a joy to share that Rev. Jim McConnell, Rev. Roger Brewin, Rev. Hunter Leggitt, and Clark Gilpin (Professor Emeritus of the History of Christianity and Theology in the University of Chicago Divinity School), have decided to write and share letters to the fellowship every few days, while in-person services are cancelled, to help address the spiritual needs of the fellowship. Be on the lookout for an occasional "Special BUUF Announce: From the Minister's Desk" arriving in your inbox. These messages may also include cheerful reminders of our BUUF family, such as photos of past events and services. Feel free to submit additional images, poems or thoughts that might bring cheer or encouragement to fellow BUUFers. In this time of limited social contact, it is especially important that we continue to share our joys, our concerns, our emotions, reflections and artistry with one another.

To share your joys and sorrows with the larger BUUF community send an email to Office@BerrienUU.org or contact Rev. Jim McConnell at Minister@BerrienUU.org or 574-229-6536.

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Sunday Services

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Virtual Sunday Gatherings: Join via Computer or Telephone

Virtual Sunday Gatherings 

In-person Sunday services are canceled through at least April 12th (Easter Sunday). In lieu of regular Sunday services, Gretchen Ohmann, Lisa Fuller and others will lead an informal online gathering (aka ‘Zoom meeting’) each Sunday. We’ll use this gathering to check in with each other, hear concerns, and share joys. Your attendance will be welcomed!

To join BUUF’s Sunday Service Zoom meetings simply click this link: 
https://zoom.us/j/509672964
Meeting ID: 509 672 964

If you join via computer but can’t hear or speak to the group, you can join by phone also. You will be prompted to enter the Meeting ID: 509 672 964 before joining the meeting. 

Read more or add to your calendar.

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Special Messages

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From the Minister's Desk...

"Perhaps So."

“… as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.” Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense in the George W. Bush Administration

Right now, there is a whole lot we do not know.  We do not know how long the Covid-19 pandemic will last.  We do not know how many of us it will kill.  We do not know if we will lose loved ones or if we will ourselves succumb.  We do not know what will happen to the world’s economy or what effect the pandemic will have on our already ailing planet.  

When so much is unknown, it is right to turn to the wisdom of the Tao.  The central premise of the Tao is that Light and Darkness are twins which arise mutually.  You can’t have one without the other.  Think of the Yin Yang symbol which is a representation of the intertwined nature of light and dark.

There is a story from the Taoist tradition that I like very much.  It takes place 1000 years ago in a small fishing village in China.  A young girl from the market, the daughter of a merchant, and a young apprentice fisherman, both of them teenagers, fall in love.  They do not tell anyone.  The young girl becomes pregnant.  In a few months she begins to show.  Her parents are outraged that their daughter has been violated.  They storm and roar demanding that the young girl tell them who the villain is who impregnated her.  The girl remains silent.  The weeks go by, yet the drama in the merchant’s home is unrelenting as the girl’s parents rage on, demanding that she reveal the identity of the baby’s father. 

One day, worn down by her parents' anger and the constant drama, she lies and blurts out that the father of her unborn child is a Taoist, an old man, in his seventies, who lives in a hut down by the water’s edge.  The merchant gathers a crowd and proceeds down to the shore and confronts the old man, calling him a lecher, a rapist, and a wanton destroyer of maidenhood. 

The old man responds, “Perhaps so.”  The mob burns down the old man’s hut. 

Weeks later, the baby is born. Full of righteous anger the merchant again assembles an angry crowd and takes the baby down to the waterside where the old man has rebuilt his hut.  Thrusting the baby into the old man’s arms, the merchant says, “You are the coward who raped my daughter.  This is your baby.  You should be responsible for her.” 

The old man says, “Perhaps so.”

The old man takes the baby and for two years raises her as a kindly grandfather would.  She, at two years old, is a happy toddler.

In the meantime, circumstances have changed for the young couple.  The young man has acquired his own fishing boat and the young girl is a bright light of management skills in her father’s business.  They decide to get married.  After they establish their household, they begin to yearn for their child.  The couple confesses to her father who, after some stormy rhetoric and much self-recrimination, assembles some friends and goes down to the Taoist’s hut.  Hat in hand, he bows deeply to the old man, apologizes, and asks for his granddaughter.  Without a word, the old man hands over the child.  The merchant again bows deeply and humbly asserts that the old man is a truly good and most virtuous person.  The old man responds, “Perhaps so.”

In the age of Covid-19, Light and Dark seem to be storming around us like the giant vortex of a hurricane.  The Tao teaches us that we should not be tempted to throw ourselves into the harsh winds of drama and blame that rage all around us. Our place is in the calm eye-of-the-storm where we, like the old man in the story, retain the emotional energy and spiritual wherewithal to do the right thing.  There are babies to raise, people to take care of, and many opportunities to love.

Many BUUFers have come forward to create a web of caring so that we can help those in need during these troubling times.

If you or someone you know needs help of any kind or you just want to talk to someone other than your cat, call 574-229-6536. Same number if you want to help.

Peace and Love,

Jim

The way that can be spoken is not the eternal way.

The name that can be named is not the eternal name.

                                                                  Lao Tzu

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Thoughts from Your DRE...

(Katharine Lion)

At first, I didn’t take the coronavirus seriously. There was talk about needing to shut down and socially isolate. My first response was to say, yeah right, I don’t have time for that. I have a surgery coming up, I have to schedule generous souls to help me with my child while my husband works. I have this plan to get surgery, take a week off & return with gusto, leading a mindfulness workshop only one week later. Then I have to plan x, then y, then z, already living in my mind into April and May. I actually scheduled a program for June, I was already living in June.

We all have lives like this whether we’re parents of young kids juggling them and one to three jobs, housework, extra-curricular activities, pets and on and on. Or we’re retired and juggling our social calendar with our volunteer calendar and quilting baby blankets for our great-grandkids. We might be in our 50’s & 60’s working longer than we want to, putting off our retirement to pay our kids’ college tuitions. The thing that connects us these days is how busy we all are, how we seem to go-go-go all the time.

So of course our first response to a social-distancing shut-in is to rebel with I can’t, I’m too busy! But for me, when it looked like there was no other choice, I took a deep breath & looked out the window. I sat there for five minutes just doing nothing. It occurred to me then, with a huge sigh of relief, what a blessing it will be to just exist, with no plans, with nowhere to go. No meetings about meetings, no library or school functions. No nothing, just time and the chance to drop the reigns of such tight control over my life.

What a gift time & quiet is. Something we don’t get very much of in our day-to-day lives. And I thought about how collectively our world is suffering so much. Between the systematic injustices, constant othering that leads to mal-treatment and even genocide. So much suffering on so many levels, it seems insurmountable. When a person is in the midst of trauma and abuse, they can’t see the other side, they can’t see a way through. It isn’t until they are safe with some distance that they can start to see a future for themselves.

Perhaps this collective slow-down, this chance to take a break, can help us to refocus, can help us find our future and one that benefits us all. I’ve already seen it manifesting. We are coming together for one another, even beginning with the act of creating a social-distancing shut in is an act of selflessness for the greater good of the community. It is a physical step out of our separate personal lives and into the life of the community. To top that off, there has been an out-pouring of support; people offering to share their food, their toilet paper, and favorite brands of bidets!

So here is my call of action to you, my beloved community, don’t try to work through all of this generous gift of time, don’t clean your house twice a day, don’t overly schedule your kids with homework their teacher sent home plus every educational website you can find. Instead, stay in your pajamas all day and make pancakes for dinner, watch movies together as a family, read books, be silly, tell jokes, and for gosh’s sake; stare out the window & dream up fantasy worlds where life is fair.

And if you find yourself with too much time & are looking for something to do, check out these 8 free, 30 min-workshops on healing, reflection & learning through creative process.

The Artful Soul from WorkshopMuse.

As a side note, this is just a reflection. I wouldn’t in any way wish to downplay or dismiss the seriousness of the coronavirus, the food insecurity some will experience or the potential economic impacts that are sure to come to a lot of people from this social distancing.

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A Prayer for Uncertain Times

by Molly Remer, UU Women’s Circle Leader

May I act with compassion,
remembering the irreplaceable
of the threads of human connection.
May I maintain a spirit of curiosity,
generosity, and creativity.
May I extend a hand when needed
and retreat when necessary.
May I exercise wise discernment.
May I remember to step outside
under a wide sky.
May I sweep my arms up and open
and then bring them down,
palms to the earth,
feeling the steady thrum of life
weaving the whole.
Placing one hand on my heart
and one on my belly,
may I be inspired, nourished, and restored
by this matching pulse within.
May I allow myself to pause
and witness the tender terrain
of uncertainty
and choose to inhabit it fully,
allowing not knowing, maybe, and if
to drift around me on the winds
of change,
while I take
another step
on solid ground.

 Submitted by Gretchen Ohmann

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Announcements

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BUUF Annual Member & Friend Survey

Please Respond by March 22nd

The Berrien UU Fellowship (BUUF) Board is asking for feedback on what's working well at BUUF, what could be improved, and what goals we should set for the future. Your input will help with planning for the future of BUUF. Please take a few minutes and complete the annual survey by March 22nd. The BUUF Board will tally the results and provide them to the fellowship. Please click here to complete the survey.

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Upcoming Events

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Mindfulness Workshop: Mandala Making

Mindfulness Workshop: Mandala Making

Saturday, March 21, 10:00am - 11:00am 

Come connect to our community on Zoom. We will catch up with one another, learn a bit about mandalas. And using whatever materials we have on hand, try making some. No artistic skill required. Mandalas represent the whole of the universe. Making a mandala requires repetition & rhythm making it is a wonderful tool for meditation & for practice of staying in the moment. Some helpful materials might be: paper, pen, thin sharpie or other marker, pencil, ruler, compass or traceable circles of various sizes (lids work great).

BUUF is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: BUUF Mandala Making group

Time: Mar 21, 2020 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/144944370
Meeting ID: 144 944 370

Dial by your location
 +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 144 944 370

Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/adDbBv6HLe

For questions or more information, contact: DRE@BerrienUU.org

Add to your calendar.

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Other Upcoming Events

Dedicated BUUFers are looking into various upcoming events and whether to cancel, postpone or conduct them in an alternative fashion. This includes:

• BUUF Book Club Meeting

• Preparing and serving meals at the Benton Harbor Soup Kitchen

• Future Citizens Climate Lobby meetings (BUUFers tuned into this month's meeting via Zoom from their home computer)

Please stay tuned for more details! 

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