This past Sunday some of the Sanctuary Keepers, their families and I went to the top of Mt. Orient in Pelham. When we got to the good view a few kids realized that we were not at the top and I even though I told them the top did not really feel like a top, I agreed to take them while the others settled in for lunch. Another 100 feet on the two explorers agreed that the top was “just trees” and we could go back.
Sometimes when you get to the top of something you realize that the “best” spot or moment was actually found on the way up…
Have a wonderful summer everyone!
This past Sunday we held our annual flower communion and the sanctuary was filled with the scent of summer and the colors of fellowship and hope. The children participated in helping to bring the flowers into the sanctuary and then helped to distribute them later on in the service.
Rev. Steve spoke about the origins of Flower Communion which the UU summarizes here.
We also took the time to recognize our graduated high school senior, Anna, who is heading off into the world and our two preschoolers who are graduating to the elementary RE program.
Thank you to all who have helped to make our RE year special. This summer we will provide Child Care during our services except the last Sunday of the months of June, July and August.
The Sunday of Memorial Day weekend we took a walk to the nearby public park to enjoy the sunshine. Yes, the slides were too hot, but the swings were fun, the fairy house was simple to construct with a lot of helping hands and several children played gaga using the shade of a tree as the boundary. We ate our snack of watermelon, blueberries, strawberries and cookies and then it was time to go back to church.
Children explored two different concepts in mindfulness, the striving brain and the experiencing brain. Children learned that every time they notice a thought or a feeling that they were practicing mindfulness! We talked about striving thoughts and how they can grab on to each other like monkeys. We played “Drop the Monkeys” while discussing the effects of busy thoughts on our bodies. Next we read the book “Slowly Slowly” by Eric Carle and later noticed how slowing down can help to calm a busy mind. We played close attention to our body and breath sensations while moving slowly. Later we played games that used movement and music to practice slowing down and speeding up.
This past weekend was very exciting. Friday night RE sponsored a sign making, pizza party and Meet Rachael party for all those who were in support of the UUSA marching in the Northampton Pride Parade. Many signs were made, pizza was eaten, Rachael was able to mingle and meet most of our families and allies.
Saturday, May 4th we gathered, mingled with the Northampton UU and marched about a mile to the fairgrounds. It was pretty incredible to be part of such a large group of people all feeling the pride, the love and support of each other. At one point the marchers were funneled into a mass of people and for a moment you couldn’t tell who was marching and who was standing still. My favorite moment was when someone yelled, “We love UUs. You are so reasonable!” After we finished marching the Northampton and Amherst UUs sponsored a table at the fairgrounds and we handed out UU literature to interested people.
Sunday, May 5th Rachael Hayes was in the pulpit. During her story for all ages she asked the children about our Tiffany window The Angel of the Lilies. I think it might have been the first time some of the children really looked at the window. Downstairs we made our own stained glass out of tissue and construction paper and some children chose to color in a black and white I made from a photo of our window. We talked a little about the window and I asked the children about angels. We didn’t get very far with that discussion so we’ll have to get back to it.
And we voted!! I asked the children to vote with markers and if they wanted to list why they were voting yes or no for Rachael to become our settled minister they could. The result was a unanimous yes! And upstairs it was a YES too – so – welcome Rachael Hayes! Go to the UUSA Facebook page to see the post and all of the celebratory photos.
Two years ago I cut out an article from the UU World Magazine about Beatrix Potter and this past Sunday I finally did a lesson about her work and her life. At 150, Beatrix Potter continues to delight was written by Kris Willcox. There were several facts that caught my eye and in turn informed my Sunday lesson:
- Beatrix Potter often disagreed with her teachers and still persevered, becoming an extremely successful artist and writer.
- Potter carefully studied mushrooms and lichens that grew around Dunkeld, Scotland and discovered an undocumented process of fungi reproduction from spores. She presented her discovery to the Royal Botanical Society much to the chagrin of all of the male members.
- Potter controlled her own money, even after getting married late in life.
- Potter bought a large farm and became a very successful farmer.
- Potter donated more than 4,300 acres of Lake District farmlands to the National Trust which is one of the world’s first conservation organizations.
After reading Potter’s short story about Miss Moppet we discussed our own experiences with teachers who we don’t agree with and why it is important to keep learning and growing on our own. From there we moved to our tables where children chose different natural objects to draw – a split open orange, a beetle, shells of different sizes, a radish, a piece of a pepper, some feathers and a sprig of Japanese Knot-weed.
Back in our closing circle we wrapped up the lesson linking Potter’s life to the UU Principles and the children mentioned the three I have listed below:
1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Passover and Easter don’t usually fall on the same week, but this year the two holidays arrived together and the children at the UUSA celebrated with an egg hunt and a matzoh snack. We had 15 children between the ages of 2 and 12 and our volunteers hid the eggs accordingly. After the plastic eggs were found, the children were given hard-boiled eggs to decorate with crayons and everyone had as much matzoh as they could eat.
And in case some of you are wondering, the vacuum most definitely came out during clean up!
Thanks to all who made the morning fun.
Happy Spring everyone!
What Do You Do With A Problem? by Kobi Yamada is a wonderful book about a little person who is scared by a problem, but then decides to face it head on and learn from dealing with it. Last Sunday our group discussed problems we have faced and what we learned when we dealt with them. Then we took a step back and talked about Climate Change which is of course no small problem! The children discussed solutions including some like: “we should all walk instead of drive” and possible inventions that we could develop to reduce our carbon emissions like a carbon vacuum.
Following our check in and discussion we made clay sculptures of inventions, faces of people dealing with problems and one child drew symbols on clay tablets. One of the cool things about having a small group is that even when we stop our “formal” discussion, once our hands get busy with the RE craft our informal chat starts up and this is usually when I see the “magic” of RE happen. Kids share ideas, materials and get to know each other through doing and being together.
The K-2 and 4-6 OWL groups finished their programming with two very different celebrations, but with equal enthusiasm and joy. The K-2 group celebrated everyone’s birth with cupcakes and cookies. And 4-6 wrote recipes for healthy relationships. Check out the photos below. Thank you to all of the families for attending each Sunday – regular attendance is key to the OWL program. With OWL finished we will start up our regular Sunday routine – upstairs to start! Happy Spring!