The Minister's Blog

Laurie Stuart
Laurie Stuart serves as UDUUF Consulting Minister. Her long-standing belief that promoting dialogue and engagement can help communities shape their destinies is manifest in her work at the Fellowship, its outreach ministry through the Upper Delaware River Roundtable and her community journalism work through The River Reporter. Currently a MDiv student at Starr King School for the Ministry, her writing combines a well-grounded sense of community, creative expression and a love for the beautiful landscape and communities of the Upper Delaware River Valley. She has maintained a blog since 2006 and an archive of writing can be found at


Here's my first improvisation with putting my harp in the key of D and improvising like I do on the piano and Reverie Harp. Very pleased with this first attempt.

Let me know what you think.

My friend Munro posted this quote to his Facebook page today and I thought it was amazingly fitting to our topic of the month. Virginia Kennedy spoke about reciprocity in her guest sermon on April 1st. I'm looking forward to our service of shared readings on ethics on April 15.

Here are some of the links that I visited when putting together yesterday's service on Compassion.

Armstrong on Charter for Compassion

This month, the Fellowship is exploring the topic of possibility. Interestingly enough, member Bob Santee passed on this video that he "happened" to receive this week.


I take myself out to the woods. I am looking for possibility. I am looking for clarity and a bit of fresh air.

Sometime back I read "Homecoming" by John Bradshaw and did the exercise of writing to my "inner child" by using my opposite hand. It had a profound effect on me and accessed a different part of my brain. I have since used that technique to access wisdom that seems to come from beyond me. Here's what emerged yesterday:

When all is lost, go back to basics.
Kiss your husband and children deeply,
Pay your bills; clean your house.
Find a past time you enjoy.
Pray and be grateful for whatever comes your way.

Don't forget to drink water.
Go outside.


One of my main tenets is that all things lost are found. I can only hope that it is true for me, for all of us.

It's not that I'm physically lost, it's that I'm emotionally adrift. It may or may not show to the casual observer, but it's apparent if you look closely into my eyes. It could be the continuing grief of the loss of my younger brother this past fall. Although I think feelings of disconnection has been going on for awhile. Perhaps a lifetime. Perhaps all of our lifetimes.

Today's musing:

There are patterns in everything based on their inherent qualities.

They change and they stay the same.


It was there in the woods on the side of a small road that borders the west branch of the Ten Mile River. A small shrine, a Mary figurine. I discovered it when I was driving the back roads of Tusten following Hurricane Irene.

I stop there everyday now and sit, waiting for inspiration, guidance, and a bit of solace. Generally, there is some thought that comes to mind.

Twenty-five years ago today, my house burned down. I remembered and did the math while listening to a story about a church burning down and a button box lost. Told as part of UULTI (Unitarian Universalist Leadership Training Institute), held in Ocean Grove this past weekend, I think the point of the story was to reveal a truth that historically our institutions have collective treasure and knowledge that we would do well to remember.

Perhaps it was a tale about resilience.

I miss you.

I miss you and I think of you everyday when I am in the garden. I snap pictures of the broccoli growing or the cauliflower and I think about how you could watch how my garden grows. I think about how I am happy that I get to watch you grow.

It's summer; and the gardens here in Upstate New York, where I live, grow and grow. I know, because when I lived with you when I worked in Tampa General Hospital as a chaplain, that it's too hot in Florida in the summer for gardens, even though I and your dad tried to grow tomatoes.


A cauliflower grows in my garden.


This morning, with my overall's getting longer and longer as I worked, I reclaimed the bed where the peas had been growing. I pulled the diseased vines and placed them carefully in a heavy plastic bag. I don't really know what was wrong with the peas; it could have been mosaic or maybe, as my sage farmer friend Greg Swartz put it in a recent email "Peas don't like having wet feet for extended periods of time, aka this season!")


I hurry out in the morning; I have no time to work my 30 morning minutes in the garden. I take a quick picture just to remember.

I read the second installment of my Spirituality and Practice e-course, "Pausing with Terry Hershey" and he talks about how there are two spaces in our lives. One for hurrying and accomplishment; one for reflection, silence. Check out this video explanation.

The pause


Future cumcumber


Eggplant parm. Yum.

I am in the garden early this morning, working in the cool of the day. On my mental list is the tying up of the tomatoes.

I flit from one task to another and am sure that I have attention deficit disorder. Chastising myself for thinking too much, I tie up some of the tomatoes, side dressing them, and the cucumbers with lovely sheep manure that Stephen picked up for me from Fallsdale Farm last Wednesday.


I spent the first hour of my day composing a blog post that talked about the three New York Times articles that I read this morning, which had me marveling at how many less-than-adequate decisions, particularly concerning asset use, that we could possibly make. And while I was jumping back and forth to retrieve the links, so that you could read the articles if you were so inclined, I jumped off my blog input screen without saving and lost it all.

Here was the scripture from the Ten Mile River Baptist Church service on Sunday, May 30, 2011. While we only chanted the first line, as the sun streamed through old glass windows, reflecting the green of the cemetery beyond, I was inspired to finish the passage in song today.

Let us consider how to stir up one another to love
and good works,
not neglecting to meet together, as some might do,
but by encouraging one another,
especially as the day draws near.
Hebrews 10, 24 & 25

I find this commercial interesting because it is selling people a dream and an opportunity to wake up.


My morning musing has led me to the writing of 12 luminaries on on how to stay grounded in the midst of turmoil, and how we can all help the people of Japan during this difficult time. I especially like this passage:

In this morning's multi-gen service called "Helping Hands," I used the major version of Prayer for the Water of the World and the minor version to illustrate that the tone of our communication makes a difference.

Which one touches you?

Here's the major (the original that I played following praying the prayer of Masura Emoto at noon on March 31, 2011. You can follow the transition of the third line.)

Anatomy of a Service.jpg

The making of the multi-gen service, "Helping Hands"
Green equals ritual liturgical element
Yellow equals music
Pink equals concept
Purple equals story explaining concept
Blue equals interactive ritual

Too fun!

Here's the explanation:

Masaru Emoto (Messages from Water) issued a request for prayers for the waters around the nuclear power plant of Fukushima. He said there was no answer to the unfolding crisis in conventional action and that human energy could affect water even as far away as Japan. He asked that people pray the following message:

“The water of Fukushima Nuclear Plant,
we are sorry to make you suffer.
Please forgive us. We thank you, and we love you.”

Preparing for Sunday's "All You Need is Love" multi-generational service.

Tuning into heart energy and trying to keep in mind, body and spirit that it is our love that reaches into the world and makes meaning and abundance where there is doubt and fear.

It sounds like it’s raining when I step outside in my snow boots and long raincoat. There is a crust on the snow and I make way to the woods to the right of the house. I choose that direction because I assess that there will be less resistance in the snow that is under the canopy of the white pines.

I stop and look closely at the ice-covered branches. I contemplate that while the outside of the pine needle is frozen, on the inside there is energy and warmth. I enter the woods and gaze at the snow covered branches and underbrush and think about my breath.

The dew was already frozen on the grass when I went out last night at 5:30 p.m. to pick parsley and beets for last night's dinner. Stephen was fixing a baked chicken, stuffed with rice, apricots and some of our dried apples and peaches. (I don't know if meal choice was because we spent Thanksgiving in New York City with some 25 relatives of our respective families, and had no Thanksgiving-like leftovers, but the small stuffed bird, the roasted potatoes, onions and beets were a wonderful end to the Thanksgiving holiday.)

The wind blows and the pine trees sway in the side field, just beyond my bedroom window. Sitting in bed, propped up with pillows, I watch as the branches dance, each one to a slightly different rhythm. I note that they move with the wind and always, always, come back to stillness. With a large gust, I imagine that the truck of the tree sways as well.