Dear Ones,

I’ve got a hodge podge of little things to share with you this month. Linda and I are adventuring in Ireland October 1-10 (I’ll be back at the job on Saturday the 14th—leading Session I of the Belonging series). I have been a Celtophile ever since I was given my first Clancy Brothers album, The First Hurrah! (1964), when I was maybe nine or ten. Recently I discovered that Celtic music pairs wonderfully with gym workouts. One spring morning while I was tackling random hills on the stationary bike to the tunes Brian O’Donovan was spinning on his WGBH Boston Public Radio show, Celtic Sojourn, I heard that he and Robbie O’Connell, a Clancy nephew and musician, were leading a musical tour of southern Ireland. We signed up! We’ll be seeing the sites around Clonakilty (Cork), New Ross (Wexford), Clonmel (Tipperary), and Ennis (Clare), plus enjoying guests and “sessions” most evenings!

My Ancestry DNA analysis last year revealed that 23% of my DNA is Irish in origin. Even though I haven’t yet tracked down the names of those ancestors, I am grateful to be able to explore in situ the roots of my deep resonance with Celtic music. And Speaking of gratitude, on Sunday, September 17, I declared this this year in our Fellowship as “A Year of Counting Blessings.” What does that mean? It means we’ll be taking regular opportunities on Sundays and at other times to lift up our personal and collective gratitude for gifts received and goodness noted. For instance, look for the appearance of a Gratitude Book on a music stand in the foyer or Sanctuary. One Sunday a month I will read a composition of what is written there as part of the service. Anyone can write in it any time, anonymously or not, about a blessing they have received for which they wish to give public thanks. This is a time, in our country and our Fellowship, for making sure we notice and share the good things that are still happening every day. All is never lost. How can we keep from singing?

NOTES: 1. Our orientation to UUism and UUFSB, called Belonging, starts on Saturday morning, October 14th. Yes, it’s a newcomer class, but if you’ve never taken it—no matter how long you have been with us—please consider attending as a way of serving new seekers and as a renewal of your own connection to this faith and community. Stories, conversation, learning and good food! 2. Our very popular contemplative evening services called “Vespers” is returning. We’re offering four services between now and June and the first is Friday, October 20th, 7-9 p.m. 3. I am presenting a 4-hour introductory workshop on nonviolent (compassionate) communication on Saturday, October 28. This is a profoundly effective method of communication in times of peace and conflict. Join us! Sláinte (slawn-cha), Cheers!