The last straw . . .
"This is the LAST straw!" Has that phrase ever flown out of your mouth? I must admit, I've muttered it more than once these past eight months. With all of us together all of the time, trying to manage life and work and school in a small space, engulfed in a fog of anxiety, there are moments when I have completely lost patience with the people and dog (above) that I love. You know those moments, right? The balled-up socks in the laundry, the barking at nothing, the fuse that keeps blowing, the groceries someone forgot to get at the store, the chores that never get done . . .

I said it again yesterday and suddenly thought: Hang on, why a straw? Suspecting it might be "the straw that broke the camel's back," which sounds vaguely Biblical, I decided to investigate. I turned to that infallible source, The Internet, and promptly went down a rabbit hole (yet another animal metaphor) into 300+ years of idiom usage that included last straws, last feathers, and last hairs variously piled on the backs of camels, horses, and donkeys. And after all that, it's not Biblical at all! Holy cow, I said, looking at the clock, I just wasted a whole hour on a metaphorical straw!

Or did I? I learned some things in that rabbit hole. I even had a laugh or two. Most importantly, my irritation with the people and dog I love had magically disappeared. I felt lighter. Because that "last straw" -- that final thing that made my daily burden feel so heavy, so unbearable -- really wasn't the problem. My anger was the problem.

Thich Nhat Hanh tells the story of a monk who wants to meditate alone. He leaves his monastery and rows a boat to the middle of a lake. There, he closes his eyes and begins to meditate in blissful solitude. . . until THUMP! He feels another boat hitting his. He breathes, waiting for the boat to pass. THUMP! THUMP! Eyes still closed, he feels his anger rising. THUMP! THUMP! Now he opens his eyes, ready to shout at the boatman who dares to disturb his meditation -- and sees it's just an empty boat that drifted into the middle of the lake. The monk realizes that his anger is his; it hides within him. All it took was bumping into an external object to unleash it. After that, whenever the monk meets someone who irritates him, who provokes his anger, he remembers: "The other person is just an empty boat. The anger is inside me."
This week, let's try to let go of any "last-straw" thinking. If someone bumps our boat one too many times, let's search for ways to ease the anger inside us -- a cup of tea, a quiet walk, a good book or a poem or a song, and meditation, and prayer. Let's ask those we love for a little help and understanding. Remember we are still together, even when we're apart. And the best news is that all of us are loved, all the time.

-- MZ Smith, Community News editor
Join our SUNDAY, NOV. 15 worship service via ZOOM!

It's Stewardship Sunday, and Team Brown/Geller will again lead this special service! They'll lift up the Prayer of St. Francis to encourage a way of being in our divisive society. They'll focus on this phrase in the prayer: "It is in giving that we receive." We'll consider the past eight months of the pandemic -- the times we have been moved to give, and perhaps discovered we received more in return. Lynn Brown & Diana Geller will offer short reflections, and then open the floor so others can share. If you'd like to share and have someone else read it aloud, email Lynn.

Our worship service will be online via Zoom. Anyone can join us from anywhere! Use the links at right, and join us.
To receive a Zoom link & materials for our online service this Sunday: Email us at:

To get weekly info on activities & programs: Fill out the contact form at:

For info about online services and a link to download Zoom, click here.

Rev. David Harkness
Elder Rob Trawick
Rev. Rachel Thompson
Greg Smith, office administrator
Making Changes,
Making Progress!
Pastoral search. FPCP is moving ahead in our search for a new pastor. The Hudson River Presbytery (HRP) has appointed Elder Rob Trawick to be our transition liaison, and Rev. David Harkness to moderate our Session. We have a fabulous group of pastors who will step into our (virtual) pulpit. And Rev. Rachel Thompson is covering pastoral care as needed!

New church office administrator. FPCP member Greg Smith will step into this part-time position. Greg is currently in training and will work 15 hours a week. Wish him good luck!

NY Forward plan approved. Our sanctuary remains closed to keep us all safe. But Session has approved a NY Forward plan so that we are ready to reopen when it is safe to gather for Sunday services. Our sanctuary is currently slated to remain closed until March 2021; however, Session re-evaluates this decision monthly.

Good things stay the same! We still worship together every Sunday via Zoom, and families enjoy Sunday school at home. Our Wednesday contemplative prayer group and Sunday morning adult education classes meet online each week, and our fabulous Book Club continues to meet via Zoom once a month! (See our Bulletin Board below.) Our church care network is strong -- deacons reach out to church family members, and an email group shares concerns and requests prayers regularly. Our missions -- including the Food Pantry, Midnight Run, and PAPA meals -- continue to serve hundreds of our neighbors in need each month.

We are grateful to leadership, staff, elders, deacons, members, and volunteers for your hard work, support, patience, generosity, and good humor during this exciting time of change at FPCP!
From the Green Team: A sacred duty to protect the welfare of Mother Earth

Since November is Native American Heritage Month, we offer these timely and wise words once spoken by the late Chief Leon Shenandoah to world leaders at the United Nations. Chief Shenandoah (above) lived on the Onondaga Nation reservation near Syracuse. For nearly three decades, he served as Tadadaho, chief of chiefs, the spiritual and political leader of the Iroquois Confederacy, which is comprised of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora nations. This leadership position is of immense importance to these nations, who trace its origin to Hiawatha, architect of the "Great Peace" that established their confederacy centuries before white people came to North America. The Iroquois once dominated lands between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River. Today there are about 65,000 Iroquois on reservations in New York, Wisconsin, Ontario, and Quebec.

In every nation there are wise and good men, and they should be appointed chiefs. They should be the advisors of their people and work for the good of all people, and all their powers comes from the Great Peace.

A chief must never forget the Creator, never forget to ask the Creator for help. The Creator will guide our thoughts and strengthen us as we work to be faithful to our sacred trust -- to restore harmony among all peoples, all living creatures, and Mother Earth.

In the beginning, we were told that human beings have been provided with all things necessary for life on our Mother Earth. We were instructed to carry a love for one another, and to show a great respect for all of the beings on this Earth. We were shown that our well-being depends on the well-being of the tree life and the vegetable life, that we are close relations of all four-legged beings.

In our way, spiritual consciousness is the highest form of politics . . . when people cease to respect and express gratitude for these many things, then all life will be destroyed, and human life on this planet will come to an end.

These are our times and our responsibilities. Every human being has a sacred duty to protect the welfare of our Mother Earth, from whom all life comes.
Our Bulletin Board
Join FPCP's fun and fabulous Book Club! Our Book Club is reading the novel Forever by Pete Hamill. This bestseller is an epic and magical tale about a man who arrives in New York in 1740 and remains ... forever. Cormac O'Connor will be immortal as long as he never leaves Manhattan. Through his eyes, we watch New York City grow from a tiny settlement in the wilderness to today's thriving metropolis. We'll discuss Forever on Tuesday, Nov. 17. For more info, email Bev Taylor here.
Kids: Explore big ideas! Sunday School currently takes place at home. Carolyn, our Youth Ed leader, sends families a weekly email with stories, activities, and ideas. Last week, we learned a Bible passage that begins: "For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." We heard The Byrds sing it in: "Turn, Turn, Turn." We talked about things that change -- sometimes for the better, sometimes not -- but God helps us always. Join our e-list! Email Carolyn here.
Support the next Midnight Run Our next Midnight Run will be on Saturday, December 5. We are grateful to FPCP member/elder Ron Sopyla, who is once again coordinating this outreach trip, taking food and critical supplies to people experiencing homelessness in NYC. Ron is seeking volunteer drivers to go in a caravan with him. We also welcome donations of food, warm coats and hats, blankets and sleeping bags. To sign up, or for more info, contact Ron at 
Contemplative Prayer Group We now meet online via Zoom from 7 - 8 am every Wednesday. We practice meditation and share prayers, readings, and discussion.
This group is open to everyone. It is a peaceful and welcoming experience. And: The practice of prayer may have health benefits, researchers say. Click the picture to learn more. If you would like additional information, including a Zoom link for our next morning meditation, please email us at
Please help if you can. During this health and economic crisis, we are grateful that we can serve neighbors in need through our critical mission programs like the Food Pantry and Midnight Run. If you feel called to support this outreach, we warmly welcome any and all contributions. If you are a member of our church family and can maintain your giving at this time, we humbly thank you.
To make an online donation, click the image at the left, or right here. Bless you!
Telephone: (845)-265-3220 / Email: