Solemnity & Play (December)

Video – Solstices Explained

As we celebrate the approaching Winter Solstice, here is a playful explanation of their origin – along with appreciation of the beauty they offer to our planet!

Story Book – This is a Serious Book

Contributed by Andrea Young

A solemnly playful story for all ages!


December is a time full of festivals and holidays. These are opportunities to contemplate the passing of time, to consider our place in the world, and to spend with people dear to us – weighty matters that go to the heart of who we are!

These are solemn questions, balanced by the playfulness that go with them – we take these occasions seriously… and we have fun with them, finding joy as we seek deeper understanding.

Outside of Sundays, we can Take the Theme Home with these resources, as we share this search together.
–Rev. Rod

Article – The Importance of Play (The Atlantic)

The Atlantic makes its case for Play:

Video – More Than Fun (TED Talk)

And, if you prefer to watch, here’s Stuart Brown giving a serious talk about Play.

Comic – Play-by-Play (XKCD)

Ever wonder what the game of baseball looks like to an outsider?  Here’s one take on it:


Theme for November – Healing the Spirit

Film – My Life as a Dog

Contributed by Pat Lucey

An endearing tale of a 12-year-old boy who seeks healing as he copes with challenges in his life.  Available through the Ottawa Public Library, via Kanopy streaming:

Featured Author – Dr. Paula Reeves

Contributed by Nancy Rubenstein

Want to find out more about “the heart’s intelligence”?  You can explore the wisdom of Dr. Paula Reeves in her site:

Poem – Last Night As I Was Sleeping

Contributed by Lorna Erickson-Fraser

Article – Canada’s Impossible Acknowledgement – The New Yorker

An outside perspective on the value – and challenges – around land acknowledgements in Canada:

Article – The Invisible Workload that Drags Women Down – Time

Exposing one way in which invisible workloads affect genders differently:


Feeding Our Awareness – Menu

As we move into our theme of Healing the Spirit in November, we have a full course of resources to feed our awareness on our ongoing conversations on racial justice and anti-oppression, which are central to our prophetic role at the Fellowship.

To help us be well-fed for our Teach-in on White Supremacy on November 5, here is a menu of short, digestible resources.  This is a full buffet of different media, including a generous helping of Canadian content!  Help yourself to single servings, or try out the entire menu!


Appetizer: a sweetly accessible analogy of Tallness and Privilege (3-minute Read) explaining privilege with a palatable dash of humour.

Side-dish: a spicy video explaining that nebulous term – Intersectionality – with a feminist flavour (4-minute Watch).  It is seasoned for a younger palate, but will intrigue the more adventurous gourmands.


Canadian Combo: Looking for a Canadian experience?  Try out this sampler by Robyn Maynard, offering a powerful blend of Black Lives’ Experience in Canada (8-Minute Read)

And by our chefs from CBC Radio, you can savour this interview of Dr Nell Irvin Painter (33-Minute Listen)

Take-out Option: In a hurry?  Take it to go!  This Article of the Interview with Dr Nell Irvin Painter (3-minute Read) will give you a taste of her main points.


Prix Fixe: A specialty of the House – our own Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed has a rich overview on The History of Black Lives in the UU Tradition (40-Minute Read – UUA Article), adapted from his Minns Lecture earlier this year.

For a fuller experience, you can also watch the Original Lecture – simply click on the link and choose the option for Minns Lecture 1.  You can pick-and-choose to watch the Lecture Only (54-minute Watch) or get add on the works, with the Full Video (1h47m Watch), including the Q&A session at the end.


Dessert: Still curious?  Top up your awareness feed with this Confection (15-Minute Read) by Lori Lakin Hutcherson.

Bon appétit!


Theme for June: Spirit of Summer 2


(Photo: Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel, Ottawa 2017)

Article – Ikebana: An Ancient Art of Complex Simplicity

This article tells one student’s story of learning the paradoxical beauty of Ikebana flower arranging.

Video – How It’s Made – Fireworks

The bouquets of fire we often see around summer holidays have a story of their own – here’s part of it!

Featured Unitarian – Rev. Wendy Luella Perkins

The Beauty Blessing we sang at our Flower Communion is one of the many originals by Rev. Wendy Luella Perkins, a community minister in Kingston, Ontario.

You can see some of her work here:


Theme for June: Spirit of Summer 1 – Rev. Dr. Heather Fraser Fawcett

Meditation – By C. J. Stevens

Green things growing are a sacrament.
The tiny flower in this stray plant
Is just as catching to the soul or mind
As the roses that proud in the corner stand,
And green things growing have a stubbornness.
They say to winter, to drought, to time, to us,
Wait until summer, until next year. Wait.

Featured Storyteller – Jon J. Muth


Story – Zen Tales – Jon J. Muth – 9780439634304

Featured Artist – Claude Monet

A history of Monet’s Village:

Monet’s Art:

Summer Music!

Those Lazy Crazy-Hazy-Days of Summer – Nat King Cole


When the Night Hears My Song – Bedouin Soundclash


In and English Country Garden – Jimmie Rodgers

Interview – Joanna Macy

Joanna Macy — A Wild Love for the World


Meditation – By Eric Williams

Let us bless the Earth,
And all that is steady and firm.
Let us bless the Sky,
And all that is open and filled with light.
Let us bless their union,
Holy and without ceasing.
Let us bless their children,
The bounty of field and forest,
Stones, plants, animals, and all living things.
May the gifts of the Earth and Sky
Strengthen, refresh, nourish, and heal the peoples of the Earth.

Theme for May: Choices 2

Now With More Dimensions!

Activity – Deeper Images

See this in 3D – No glasses required!

Viewing instructions:

  1. Cross your eyes until you see four images.
  2. Allow the two middle images to merge so you only see three images in total.
  3. Let your eyes adjust on the middle overlapping images until the picture adds depth!

Have trouble seeing the 3D effect?  You’re not alone!

Not everyone can cross their eyes!  And not everyone’s eyes work the same.  You can also appreciate these two, slightly-different images on their own!

[Photo: Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel – Backyard (Mexico City, 2010)]


Video – Is This What Quantum Mechanics Looks Like? – Dr. Derek Muller

Wave or Particle?

Why choose one or the other? Quantum mechanics allows for more than one answer at a time! This video displays some of the complexity of particle physics with appealing visuals.


Story – What Pet Should I Get? (2015) – Dr. Seuss – ISBN 9780553524260

A new story from the late Dr. Seuss! It has a “quantum” ending when all options are possible!


Movie – Back to the Future II (1989) – Robert Zemeckis

Also featuring 2015 is a story of time travel into the future as it might have been two years ago… when people wear two ties, and every choice has the potential to alter the space-time continuum!

Now on Canadian Netflix.

Theme for May: Choices 1

Challenges and Choices


Free Will – Sam Harris – ISBN 9781451683400 – suggested by Mike Jan

A belief in free will touches nearly everything that human beings value. It is difficult to think about law, politics, religion, public policy, intimate relationships, morality—as well as feelings of remorse or personal achievement—without first imagining that every person is the true source of his or her thoughts and actions. And yet the facts tell us that free will is an illusion.

Sam Harris argues that this truth about the human mind does not undermine morality or diminish the importance of social and political freedom, but it can and should change the way we think about some of the most important questions in life.

Choice Theory – William Glasser – ISBN 9780060930141

William Glasser’s choice theory begins with the idea that behavior is not separate from choice; we all choose how to behave at any time. Second, we cannot control anyone’s behavior but our own.
Choice theory posits most mental illness is, in fact, an expression of unhappiness. Glasser champions how we are able to learn and choose alternate behaviors resulting in greater personal satisfaction.

The Illusion of Conscious Will – Daniel Wegner – ISBN 9780262731621

Wegner argues that it is easy to show that people have the illusion that they are in control of events when actually they aren’t. Based on neurological research, he concludes that unconscious brain events cause both the intention to act and the action, but conscious intention does not cause actions.

Theme for April: Grace 3

Featured Film – Plan 9 from Outer Space – Ed Wood (1959)
One of the first films to be known as “so bad it’s good”, with pacing, dialogue, and special effects so offbeat they are comical!


Video – On the “Historical and Future Trajectories of Black Lives Matter and Unitarian Universalism” – UU Planet, April 1, 2017
Rev.. Mark Morrison-Reed, who has previously served at First Unitarian in Toronto, offers a comprehensive history of Black history in our tradition.

Article – Interim Co-Presidents See ‘Opportunity to Re-Center Ourselves – UU World April 21, 2017
Want to know more about the conversations on race that have been brewing this month at the Unitarian Universalist Association? This article is a good place to start.

Theme for April: Grace 2

Meditation – on Bread by Thich Nhat Hahn

You, me, the trees, the birds, squirrels, the creek, the air, the stars are all phenomena. There is a relationship between one phenomenon and another. If we observe things deeply, we will discover that one thing contains all the other things. If you look deeply into a tree, you will discover that a tree is not only a tree. It is also a person. It is a cloud. It is the sunshine. It is the Earth. It is the animals and the minerals. The practice of looking deeply reveals to us that one thing is made up of all the other things. One thing contains the whole cosmos.

When we hold a piece of bread to eat, if mindfulness is there, if the Holy Spirit is there, we can eat the bread in a way that will allow us to touch the whole cosmos deeply. A piece of bread contains the sunshine. That is not something difficult to see. Without sunshine, the piece of bread cannot be. A piece of bread contains a cloud. Without a cloud, the wheat cannot grow. So when you eat the piece of bread, you eat the cloud, you eat the sunshine, you eat the minerals, time, space, everything.

One thing contains everything.

With the energy of mindfulness, we can see deeply.

(from Going Home Jesus and Buddha as Brothers, by Thich Nhat Hahn)


Recipe – Simple Bread

Want to make more bread like we did this past Easter? Missed out on the service? Here is a version of the simple bread recipe we used for our “Flour Communion”!

(Note that we used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose)

Theme for March: Presence 2

Neverending Stories

Featured Film – The NeverEnding Story (1984)

A young reader faces the real-life power that dreams can have when imagination is nourished – and the dangers when people give up the power of imagination and give in to fear.

(available in DVD at the Ottawa Public Library)

You can also try the book and get immersed in the meta-narrative of Fantasia!

The Neverending Story – by Michael Ende


Video – A New History for Humanity – The Human Era (Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell)

A neat animation featuring the landmarks of human civilization since 12000 years ago.  On Sunday, we’ll see a calendar that places us in the year 12,017 HE (Human Era).


Short Story – Fred and Bonnie Cappuccino

Boundless Love Nurtured Family with 21 Children – The Montreal Gazette

A news article featuring our Bonnie and her husband, our Minister Emeritus, Rev. Fred Cappuccino.


Unitarian Biography – Bonnie and Her 21 Children – Fred Cappuccino

Or, read the fuller story… in book form!  Book available at: