Universal Heart Newsletter and Book Club

Hospitality this Christmas *  Book news at your Universal Heart Book Club (including my “Book of the Year”)*  Retreat in a Day, Auckland, 26 January  2013 * Sydney service this Sunday, 16 December 2012 * YouTube talks – direct support  * Visit www.stephaniedowrick.com for a new interview on living the sacred

Dear Universal Heart Networkers,

Heartfelt greetings as the holiday season approaches! Is this a time of more than usual activity for you? It will be for many. However, I am also aware that this is a period of loss and loneliness for some…and if this is so for you, please know that you are very much in my thoughts and prayers. In fact, whatever your emotions at this pre-Christmas time, it is certainly worth considering how you could step up your efforts to include others and offer quiet kindness and hospitality wherever there may be a need. Hospitality – and openheartedness – are key expressions of love. And it’s a renewal of love that this season of holiness is really about, rather than tinsel or turkey!

Hospitality is also a quality that we may sometimes need to offer to ourselves, accepting if not welcoming any aspects of ourselves that are less glowing or honoured. We may, for example, be struggling with so-called negative emotions or attitudes that are holding us back. Yet accepting ourselves in our complex wholeness will allow us to gently transform those emotions – or the thoughts that reflect and drive them – far more effectively than if we deny them or burden ourselves with self-blame or mistrust.

How encouragingly we talk about and to ourselves is part of this and is something I often refer to on my public Facebook page (where I offer almost daily inspirations). It will also be part of this year’s “Retreat in a Day” in Auckland on 26 January 2013. If you will be in or near to Auckland, I’d love to see you there and share that day with you. Our theme this time is “Gaining Ground” and what I mean by that is gaining greater security within so that you can meet events and situations with renewed interest and choice. It will be a practical, lovely day. Bookings with Mana Retreat Centre (http://www.manaretreat.com) and of course book with them also if you are planning to come to the so-special 2013 Easter Retreat.

Our thoughts, attitudes – and the behaviour that flows from them – has, as the Buddhist teaching reminds us – the power “to change the world”. This is brilliantly demonstrated in Barbara Kingsolver’s unmissable new novel Flight Behaviour – which is my Universal Heart Book Club “book of the year”. More below.

Also see my note below re “One Earth. One Voice” – a landmark event where we will sing and unite globally!


There is still time to buy books for Christmas and way beyond, and while I am certainly trying to shop less and “use up” far more, the book world – including writers – is in quite dire need of more participation, and especially more buying of books that are not about sport, cooking, celebrities or war! I’ve written about “reader activism” for the Universal Heart Book Club and do urge you to visit that site often and enjoy the wonderful articles and reading suggestions there – as well as watching the video reviews. These are books that support our collective  wellbeing: our Universal Heart. And we are making quite sure too that they are all a pleasure to read (not just “good for you”). We have articles on some absolutely exceptional books. However, my favourite for the year is Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour/Behavior (depending where you live!). I hope that my review makes it irresistible for you. You will also be struck by Walter Mason’s review of Sharon Snir’s Little Book of Miracles which avoids all sentimentality but reminds us poignantly through true stories of the value of life. (I couldn’t resist adding this image of pure joy, celebrating life to the full!) It’s your Book Club. Do participate.

Pure joy!


I’m so grateful to those of you who are buying your books – including audio books – from “my” bookstore (that’s the link) which is hosted by Collins/Seek here in Australia. Everything is discounted by at least 10% and while the site isn’t great to look at – nothing I can change  –  the service is very reliable and postage is only $6.95 even if you order a hundred books! (Wouldn’t that be a treat….?) They have all the books we are recommending via the Book Club, plus virtually anything else you could wish for – including my new children’s book, THE MOON SHINES OUT OF THE DARK. If you are reading this outside Australia, we also have global on-line bookstore links on the Book Club site.


Are you in Sydney – or nearby? Then join us please this Sunday, 16 December at 3pm, for our final spiritually inclusive/interfaith service for the year. It’s difficult for me to explain adequately how refreshing it is to be at a service where everyone “belongs”. Our music is always glorious, and will be on Sunday. (Heather Lee is singing O Holy Night… Any of you who know her voice will also know this is not to be missed. Congregational singing also.) Details below.

On Christmas Eve, 11pm, I will offer the service jointly with Rev Ian Pearson at Pitt Street (264) Uniting. Again, a treat with beautiful music and an unconditional welcome to all.  This service makes Christmas holy for me.


Once more, a reminder that thanks to Brad Harris you can SEE my talks from the interfaith services via this interfaithinsydney on YouTube link. Please enjoy them. You can also HEAR some wonderful singing at the same link. Listen to “Joyful, joyful” and feel massively uplifted!

(Details follow of events.)

May people everywhere embrace peace.  May you and your loved ones have a blessed Christmas and New Year, and live in peace.
Warmest wishes to each of you, Stephanie Dowrick

DETAILS OF EVENTS (please feel free to pass these on to any others who may benefit)

Interfaith service, Sunday 16 December 2012, 3pm Since 2006, offering exquisite music and universal, uplifting teachings. The 3rd Sunday of each month at 3 pm (NOT January) these services may meet your needs for peace and spiritual renewal.

Details: Interfaith services with Reverend Dr Stephanie Dowrick. Music Dr Kim Cunio and Heather Lee. Pitt Street Uniting Church, 264 Pitt Street, Sydney 2000. Nearest cross Street is Park. Some street parking. Excellent public transport (Town Hall). Services around 75 minutes. Tea, coffee, fellowship and a welcome to all. Joyful singing before the service: 1.15-2.15pm with Elizabeth Lecoanet.

Saturday 22 December  8.30 am for 9am global moment!! Join us for special singing at Pitt Street, celebrating the global vision “One Earth. One Voice“. Free breakfast supplied by OzHarvest.

Monday 24 December 11pm  Christmas eve service with singing, prayers, blessings, all welcome. Pitt Street (264) Uniting Church, Sydney.

26 January 2013  “Gaining Ground”: Retreat in a Day, Auckland, NZ. Modest cost. Lunch. Great company while setting the compass for the year ahead. Bookings: Mana Retreat Centre.