Archive for August, 2018

Aug 27 2018

September Journal – Taking It Home: A New Series

Published by under Minister's Musings

Taking It Home: A New Series

by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones,

with help from the Soul Matters Sharing Circle


Welcome, everyone, to our new congregational year 2018-19! This year and next—the two years of this Interim Period with Susie Idzik—will be exciting times for all of us at FUCSJ. We will be looking within and among us for how we can best embody our Unitarian Universalist faith. We’ll be more explicitly exploring how we can make tangible and real First Unitarian’s mission: to Make Love Visible in all we say and do. Please do take a look at Susie’s essay in this edition to learn more about the plans already afoot!

Like the old joke about “how do you get to Carnegie Hall,” I’m convinced that the only way to strengthen our capacity to live the life-saving, life-giving core of Unitarian Universalism is to “Practice, Practice, Practice.”

So this year I’m launching a new series for our monthly newsletter. Instead of another essay—another set of ideas and stories, which we pour our hearts into offering in worship every week—I want us all to have some way to take these ideas home. How can make our monthly themes practical, life-changing guides?

Each month I will offer one or two Spiritual Exercises that you and your family can try on. We’ll call this series “Taking It Home,” based on a family-oriented program from the UUA. And the spiritual exercises will come from our Soul Matters Sharing Circle of UU congregations diving into the same themes—and from our own creativity. I hope we will all give them a try! Here’s the first one. [or, if what follows is printed in a different place: You’ll find the first one on p. xx of this newsletter.]


[NOTE TO NEWSLETTER EDITORS! The opening section can be printed apart from the actual “Taking It Home” piece below, as long as you point folks to where the “Taking It Home” piece can be found. If you place it elsewhere, you can change the by-line above to just my name and then move that by-line to the part below. Clear as mud, right?? ? Thanks!]


Taking It Home: Creating Your Own Vision Statement


Companies—even congregations—write vision statements, but we rarely write one for ourselves. Let’s use this month to fix that. Simple, clear, and memorable statements of vision inspire us, help clarify our choices, and motivate us to get out of bed each morning. Without them, we may wander. With them, we choose and shape our own path. It’s one of the best gifts we can give ourselves.

And it’s not really that hard to give ourselves this gift. It’s doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the best personal vision statements are short and simple, even just one sentence. Try making it less intimidating by narrowing the timeline. Instead of trying to write a vision of what you will make of your entire life, just focus on what you want to accomplish this year. For instance, try answering one or both of the following questions:

“How do I want to be different when this congregational year comes to an end in June 2019?”

“What do I want to have done when this congregational year ends?”

Are your thoughts and feelings already stirring? Dive in!


For More Inspiration:

Would you like some more inspiration? You might like these videos about writing your “life sentence”:


Here’s a great seven-page essay that offers a road map to creating your personal vision statement:


For Visual Learners:

Some of us are visual learners, so instead of writing your personal vision statement, try creating a visual representation of it. This popular technique is called vision-boarding. Here are two good sites that explain what a vision board is and how to go about creating one:


Share What You Create:

Dear ones, please do share what you create! Bring your vision statement or vision board to your small group. Go over it with a friend or family members. What do they see in what you have created? Send a copy of it to me:, and let me know if we can share it in October’s newsletter. And come to worship on Sunday, October 23, when we will play with this practice in community!


The Power of a Vision:

When I think of the power of creating a vision for my life, I think of James Baldwin’s beautiful quotation: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” We all have aspects of our lives we would like to change. Most of us would like to be more consistent agents for love in our families and our world. Let’s experiment together with creating a vision statement that can guide us through the year to come!


With faith in the power of our visioning, and with deep love for all of you,


Rev. Nancy



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Aug 27 2018

September Journal- In Our Own Voices: What does it mean to be a People of Vision?

Published by under Minister's Musings

In Our Own Voices

September 2018: What does it mean to be a People of Vision?

The Practice of Intentional Imagination

“In Our Own Voices” captures congregants’ thoughts and feelings on the theme of the month. This year, our Worship Associates offer their first responses to each theme, in hopes that they will inspire you, too, to ask:

  • How does this theme relate to my life?
  • What does it inspire in me?
  • How does it trouble or perplex me?
  • How can it help us our Unitarian Universalist faith?

What does it mean to be a People of Vision and to practice Intentional Imagination?

  • It means to expand awareness. To behold possibilities. To appreciate growth.
  • We envision a future we can realize. We build our collective faith in who we are and our existence and our capacity for the expression of love. With an intentional and imaginative vision, we can overcome our fears and strengthen our faith. We can articulate that which we are sure will come, and guide ourselves into more perfect examples of love.
  • To be a people of vision is to see clearly, truthfully, harmoniously, in alignment, with “all/and” glasses on.
  • Lifting blinders and self-limitations à sudden clarity!
  • Vision is what motivates, drives, and inspires us. It’s what we dream about—our goals and ideals. What we want.
  • How do we know where to go without spending time figuring out what we want?
  • Vision armors and protects us as we go about our daily jobs. It nurtures and sustains us. It enraptures us.
  • Vision is part imagination. What does the future hold?
  • Nothing would ever be accomplished without vision. Look at Jules Verne imagining things that wouldn’t come to be a reality until much later. And at Steve Jobs imagining and bringing to reality things that seemed impossible. A visionary or imaginer who wants to bring dreams into reality must be inspirational and a good leader (or delegator). Vision and imagination are dandy, but there have to be action and goal-setting in order to make visions a reality.
  • With regard to church: As we strive to build the Beloved Community, it takes intention and imagination to move toward that goal.
  • The word intentional is a bit problematic for me. What about brainstorming, daydreaming, and so on, without a set goal in mind? These are key to visioning what is yet to be!
  • In creative imagining, we spend time imagining utopia, then we envision our progress toward it. But the counterpoint lies in appreciating where we are. We are a culture built on “progress”; we’re never satisfied. I’m not talking about complacency but rather about recognizing the good in what is. Here’s the both/and: Taking stock and appreciating what-is can go hand in hand with recognizing that change happens and that we want this change to move us forward.
  • Where does our vision come from? What does it mean to have a vision? Does everyone have a vision, or is it a gift? Are those who have “visions” special? What about drug-induced visions? Are they real? How much are visions based on experience? What is the purpose of a vision? How can we encourage visioning? Should we?
  • If we take a day at a time and live in the moment, why is visioning important … or is it? Does any change come without a vision? Whose vision do we follow? How does visioning influence society—and whose vision is it? When policies are related to a vision, it is important to know our leaders’ vision.
  • Is “vision” an ableist word? To be inclusive, do we need to eliminate all words that are a part of being human—words that refer to the senses, to physical activity, and more? I agree with attempting to include everyone, but I feel that the focus on these words does not increase inclusion. Actions—such as making sure the room is accessible, being sure that everyone can be included in the discussion and exercises, planning alternate but equally strong activities for when something does leave someone out—those are what embody inclusion.
  • Look more deeply into hymn #20 in the gray hymnal, “Be Thou my Vision.” Why is that re-worded but still high-falutin’ and theistic hymn even in our hymnal? (See Eleanor Hull’s translation from 1912 and other bits of history in Wikipedia and beyond.) Let’s challenge people to come up with modern language with the same essential meaning. Is that the story behind Thomas Mikelson’s writing the words for #298 “Wake, Now, My Senses”?
  • Dreams, inspiration from dreams. Perspective, binocular vision. Headlights will show only so far, and that’s all we have to go on. Theodore Parker in his 1853 sermon “Justice and the Conscience”: “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”

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