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Greetings from Pastor Lee Barstow

January, 2023

Dear LCC Community,


Among the many year-end and new-year articles being published these days, one popped out at me. From the New York Times, it was titled “The 7-Day Happiness Challenge: Try these simple steps for a joyful, more connected 2023.” I decided to take a look.

The article describes the results of an 85-year-old study to see what makes people happy. It was begun in 1938 by Harvard Medical School with 724 participants from two groups: Harvard sophomores and teenage boys from poor Boston neighborhoods. Every two years, all subjects were asked detailed questions about their lives. The study has now expanded to include three generations and more than 1,300 descendants of the original subjects. It is, says the Times, “the longest-running in-depth study on human happiness in the world.”

What has the study found? “From all the data, one very clear finding has emerged: Strong relationships are what make for a happy life. More than wealth, I.Q. or social class, it’s the robustness of our bonds that most determines whether we feel fulfilled.” To learn more, including a TED talk by the current director of the study, and a CBS Morning interview with him, see I highly recommend the TED talk.


Strong relationships are what contribute most to our happiness. I love this, in part because it reinforces what Jesus of Nazareth tells us are the two most important “commandments:” Love God and love neighbor as oneself. It’s all about relationship. 

The Times’ happiness challenge suggests actions we can take to improve our relationships. The first one (today as I write) is to schedule an eight-minute phone call with someone you have been out of touch with but whom you care about. Anyone can spare eight minutes, says the prompt, and the result is more happiness… for both! I will report on the other suggestions in next month’s Clarion, but I can tell you that my eight-minute conversationvproved the point today, with a cousin I haven’t spoken to in a long time. (They recommend setting an eight-minute limit as a “hard out” for each person.)

As we take our first steps into 2023, may we set our sight most fervently on goals to strengthen our relationships… with God, with loved ones including friends, and with folks we encounter in passing. May we make those quick phone calls…may we pay close attention to people we spend time with, letting go of preconceptions to allow new bonds to form… may we give ourselves time to experience wonder or to pray or to meditate or however we mind our relationship with the divine mystery of creation. Because these are the actions on which our well-being depends.

Peace and blessings,


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