Marking Milestones

Marking Milestones

I celebrated a birthday last week—not a particularly notable one, but enough to prompt dinner table discussion about what qualifies as “old”.

Then this week I accompanied Graham for one of his work events (something I rarely do, despite how often he accompanies me on mine). We attended a celebration of thanksgiving in honor of the retirement of the school headmaster with whom Graham has worked for the last 15 years—we enjoyed music, personal reflections, prayer, and lots of love to mark the occasion.

These observances have me thinking about the teaching to which I was introduced several years ago, out of brain science—about how our brains mark anniversaries, whether or not we attend consciously to those milestones.

That’s probably why many religious traditions’ liturgical years observe the same things again and again and again, annually. Because we—our brains, our bodies, our spirits—need to mark these meaningful moments. Perhaps we’re not even conscious at the time of why they are meaningful, but the observance matters, nonetheless.

With the rapidly approaching first anniversary of my father‘s death this summer, I intend to be mindful of the milestone—for him, for me, for his grandchildren. I don’t yet have a plan for that observance, but I’m thinking about it.

And I’m thinking about our worship at UUCC—our liturgical year, as relaxed and informal as it mostly is—and what milestones we might more deliberately observe together. Again this fall, we’ll have a remembrance service, and we always celebrate Christmas Eve, and many years our pagan siblings lead us in Solstice celebrations in winter and summer. But what else? (As always, I’m open to your ideas.)

Meantime, I invite you to think about the anniversaries and milestones in your life that deserve your special attention and care.

With love,


  1. Karin A Remington

    Thanks for prompt, Paige.

    Several places where I’ve worshipped have included a moment somewhere in the service each week for people to recognize their special anniversaries – weddings and birthdays mostly, but sometimes other events.

    This reminds me of some research about “thresholds” (the physical ones – doors, room dividers, etc.) being part of why we often forget what we were about to go and look for or go and do. Having a little mindfulness when crossing thresholds seems like a wonderful practice.

  2. Bob Schurter

    Once upon a time UUA had an RE curriculum for young children called “Holidays and Holy Days” which aimed to introduce the children to world religions by understanding and participating in their yearly religious observances. So, how about celebrating the Jewish New Year, Duvali, Ramadan and a Buhdist holiday or two by Sunday Services designed to educate us adults about the history and meaning of these Holy Days

  3. Jim Wu

    I am warmed & delighted when we Veterans are asked to stand and be recognized because 1) it’s a Thank You for your (you & your family’s) service & sacrifices and 2) it’s a reminder to me & others How Real these events were in Our Lives. It helps me to better understand WWII was not just history, but was a critical part in the lives of many many people. After Don Blamberg’s memorial service last week, a WWII veteran named John introduced himself to me. I honor & salute those men & women … including JOHN, UNCLE DAVID, AUNT CLAIRE & UNCLE PETE., UNCLE BILL ….

  4. Becky Reese

    Water communion and flower communion are annual UU rituals that I value highly. I was disappointed that flower communion was at the Easter service this year because a) I generally don’t celebrate Easter at church, and b) it was too early in the growing season this year for flowers to be blooming in backyards. I missed it, but I love participating in it.
    I wonder if we might celebrate a “Founder’s Day” — or month, depending on how detailed our historical records are about UUCC’s first gathering. It might also be nice to remember/honor periodically (probably not each year) the dates for major congregational accomplishments such as building completion, remodel 1 & remodel 2.

    Also, what about honoring the establishment of the Endowment Fund and including an opportunity for people to contribute and/or be reminded of opportunities for end-of-life planned giving. If the emphasis is on honoring the reasons for having an endowment and appreciating those who have served on its board and/or very generous donors, (as opposed to primarily a request for money), I think this might be a productive and financial-stability supporting thing to honor.

  5. Michelle Domangue

    I haven’t been attending services that often, but I have resolved to do better this summer. I’m always rewarded when I go! Yesterday’s service focused on Memorial Day through the stories of Japanese-Americans (with much as well about African-Americans) was very moving and beautiful, although very sad, as well. Music made it memorable.

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