Green Slime and Gratitude

This past Sunday I knew UUSA member Janis Gray was giving the sermon and in it she was going to talk about a green slimy dessert that was a traditional part of her family Thanksgiving dinner.  Can you guess what I decided to do during RE?

Before I answer, I’ll let you know that during Joys and Sorrows we talked about how Thanksgiving is both a time of joy and a time of sorrow.  Many Native Americans call Thanksgiving the Day of Mourning and it is important that we acknowledge how terrible the Pilgrims were to the native people who lived on this continent before they arrived from Europe.  It is also important to remember that not everyone has enough food to eat or a warm place to sleep.  So, while we take the time to share a meal and family, let us not forget our past or our neighbors and friends who may not have enough.

Janis’s funny story about her family’s green dessert gave me the perfect excuse for us to make non-edible green slime!  It turns out green slime is easy to make and not surprisingly, a big hit with the children.  Here is the recipe:  two Tablespoons Corn Starch, one and a half Tablespoons dish soap and a few drops of green food coloring – mix, mix, add more soap, add more starch, keep mixing and kneading until you get the consistency you want.  The more you mix and knead, the better the slime becomes!

Once we got to the point where we could pull our slime and not have it stick to our fingers we took turns reading poems about gratitude in a book called Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes.  The book has beautiful messages and pictures.

Between the slime and the gratitude poems I think the children are set for Thanksgiving!  Parents, you’ll be happy to know that this version of slime dries pretty quickly so you probably won’t be finding it all over your house.

Enjoy the time off school and work and remember, if you need help or support in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

 

Tasting Grief and Gratitude

This past Sunday we had a Whole Congregation service led by Rev. Rachael.  It was good to see the children looking interested, sleepy some of the time, alert most of the time, participating in the taste meditation focused on grief and gratitude.  Listen – ding – chew bread – listen – ding – chew bread (repeat 10 times!).  The challenge was to chew slowly and make the bread last.  Many many people lined up to drop a glass stone in the Joys and Sorrows vase.

I believe that children need to learn to sit through worship and ritual that isn’t all about them.  As a teacher I told my elementary school students that one of THE MOST important skills in life is to be able to sit still and look interested even when you are not.  It is my hope that in learning how to sit through worship children will learn to appreciate more and more of the service until one day they too are taken through the arc of emotions the Sunday worship leaders strive for when planning the service.

I am hoping Rev. Rachael and I can work together to do these types of services more and more.  This service was all hers and I was grateful to participate in it and share it with the children.  It was a service that was truly good for all ages.

Our sanctuary had only three seats empty.  Amazing.  To be able to worship with so many is a joy.

 

Universal Signs of Love

This past Sunday we explored the Second Principle by learning about the Side With Love campaign work that UUs have embraced as integral to our work.

“SIDE WITH LOVE LOVE IS A PUBLIC ADVOCACY CAMPAIGN THAT SEEKS TO HARNESS LOVE’S POWER TO STOP OPPRESSION. IT IS SPONSORED BY THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST ASSOCIATION AND ALL ARE WELCOME TO JOIN.”

The Side With Love campaigners wear bright yellow t-shirts when they are out and about and I thought it would be fun for us to make our own.  We had a great time as you will see in the photo gallery below.

Talking About Race and Campaigning with Principles

This past Sunday we read the story Not My Idea, by Anastasia Higginbotham.  Not My Idea was difficult to read because conversations about race are hard, but oh so very necessary.  There are no easy answers, but the message is clear – children need to learn about our US history, white systems of power and supremacy and how racism affects people every day in every way.  Downstairs we talked about the book and the children talked about the fact that their parents often will not tell them what bad things are in the news and how this makes them feel.  I found this site which parents and guardians might want to check out.

Children’s Books

Following our check in we talked about voting and I read the book Vote FOR ME by Ben Clanton.  (Spoiler alert!)  Not surprisingly, the independent mouse who stuck to the issues won the storybook election.  After reading the story and thinking about the candidates’ behaviors I gave them the opportunity to crack open the dress up box, make up a character and pick a UU Principle to turn into a campaign slogan.  Since the Sunday’s group included children from Kindergarten up through 4th grade I was prepared for a wide interpretation of the activity, but in the end everyone got right to work and a few even took advantage of costuming to change their identities. 

What were the two top themes?  “Be kind in all you do and each person is important!

While the children were drawing I read the book Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box, by Michael S. Bandy which is about a young boy who goes to vote with his African American grandfather who in the end was denied the vote because he could not read the constable’s illegal reading test.  At the end of the story the young boy, now an 18 year old young man goes to vote for the first time with a picture of his grandfather in hand.

Today is Election Day  – Go Vote!  Your voice counts!

“Vote for Purple Dog for President!!”

 

Cooking for Lucio

Last Sunday our RE children could tell me which Principles related to cooking for Lucio Perez, a Guatemalan man who has been in sanctuary at the First Congregational Church for the past two years.  In looking to link the corresponding principles I found this on the The First Parish in Lexington (MA) website:

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.

  • Respect the importance and value of each person
  • Offer fair and kind treatment to everyone
  • Yes to spiritual growth and learning together
  • Grow by exploring ideas and finding your own truth
  • Believe in your ideals and voice your vote
  • Insist on justice, freedom and peace for all
  • Value our responsibility in the web of life

The RE children named Principles 1,2,4,5 and 6.

After a very quick explanation we got right to work and divided into three stations – one for salad making, one for lasagna making and one for pie baking.  By the end of 45 minutes all of the children had taken a turn in the three stations and we had three significant dishes for one of our families to take home to bake and deliver on Monday.  Thank you to those who donated the food for us to prepare.  Lucio – we hope you enjoy the food!

UU UNO

This past Sunday was a whole congregation service centered on the UU United Nations Office, the work that the office does and the experiences of Ally (teen) and Kate (adult chaperone) at the past Spring Symposium.  You can check out this year’s Symposium here.  Rev. Rachael reflected on the work that the UUA has done, but also the work that remains to be done.  We were encouraged to take some deep breaths because, yes, there is a lot of work we still have to do.

During the TIME FOR ALL AGES Kate Rice read Intersection Allies: We Make Room for All by C. Johnson, L Council, and C. Choi.  I highly recommend this picture book for families interested in talking about how to be good allies. 

Building bridges between our divisions, I 

Reach out to you, will you reach out to me? With

All of our voices and all of our visions,

Friends, we could make such sweet harmony

During the service children had the opportunity to color in a visual Order of Service which had drawings that related to the different sections of the service, including the Gender Unicorn.  The worksheet shown below was included in the regular orders of service.

Image result for gender unicorn transstudent.org

Mindfulness of Emotions

When you wake up in the morning, what do you think of?  Are you grateful?  Annoyed?  Happy?  Sad?  Grumpy?  Silly?  Then during the day what happens to that emotion as you go about your business?  You probably start to feel more and more different emotions.  Two Sundays (yes, I am behind) ago we had our first Mindfulness lesson with Lesley and she led us through this wonderful demonstration.

  1. Each child got to say a kind of feeling they have when they wake up, they chose a glitter to represent that feeling and they put some of the glitter in a vase of water.   The vase represented our minds.
  2. When everyone had named an emotion, we each got to take a turn naming an emotion that we feel during the day and while we named the emotion we stirred the glitter.   The stirring represented all the things we do during the day.   As we passed the spoon around the glitter (emotions) swirled around the water.  We are all very busy!
  3. Then we put down the spoon and we all took some deep breathes and noticed that when we did, the glitter emotions began to slow down and come back to the top of the water.

So, take some deep breaths in order to see how you are feeling!  Don’t let your hectic day make you feel all mixed up inside.

 

1st Principle

This past Sunday was dedicated to the UU’s First Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person.  Or as the children like to say, “Each person is important.”

We started the morning upstairs for the beginning of service.  Reverend Rachael read a story about a snowflake that I have heard many variations of, but this particular version was found in the book A Lamp in Every Corner.  The moral of the story (as they say) is that no flake is the same and many flakes are significant.  Downstairs we continued the discussion, but instead of snowflakes we talked about people.  I asked, if we are all important and worthy, then what do we do when someone is behaving badly?  How should we deal with a person who is not being kind? Is someone who is a bully still important?  Still inherently worthy?  The children came up with a variety of strategies including asking an adult for help, avoiding the person and talking to the person.

We then split into two groups.  The younger children read the story I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien which is a wonderful book about children from other countries coming to America and starting at a new school.

 

 

The older group started a people map which is an idea I got from Tapestry of Faith.  In order to help them understand how important people are in their lives we started out by identifying everyone in our immediate family and then moving on to extended family, friends and people we know in town.

Principle Challenge!  Learn the UU Principles by heart at some point this year!  Younger children can learn the simplified version and I encourage the older children to memorize the more complex version.  At the end of the morning I handed out a principle accordion flyer.  If you and your child did not get one, come and find me!

 

Forgiveness

This past Sunday we talked about the Jewish High Holiday of Rosh Hashanah.    Rosh Hashanah is a time of rejoicing, a new year celebration and also a time for personal introspection.  It is a time to forgive and ask for forgiveness.  We were fortunate to have a mother from Israel come in to talk about her experiences growing up celebrating the holiday and to share our sweet treat of apples and honey.

We then did two different mindfulness exercises.   The first exercise was centered around the Rosh Hashanah ceremony called Tashlich which means to “cast off.”  For this activity we wrote down something we wanted to forgive ourselves for and forget on a little piece of paper and then we threw the paper into a bowl of water and watched our words float, wash out and sink.  We incorporated quiet thinking time as we watched our words become soggy and unreadable.

The second exercise was based on mindful eating.   I placed a plate of apples and honey in the center and asked the children to talk about eating and tasting and all the different parts of the body that help us smell and taste.  (It was difficult with the food in the middle!)  Then we took a minute and a half to chew and smell and taste our apples and honey.  After one slice we spoke again and then we tried it again.

To end the day I read the book New Year At the Pier by April Halprin Wayland.

Shana Tova!!

Backpack Charms and Coming of Age

The Thursday before this past Sunday, youth, children, parents, Rev. Rachael and I made over one hundred backpack charms using twine and beads of all kinds.  Then this past Sunday we had a whole congregation service that involved Reverend Rachael blessing everyone’s backpacks, totes, purses, gym bags, knitting bags – things we all carry with us out into the world.  During our time for all ages Rev. Rachael asked what a blessing was and without too much prompting a few children announced their ideas.  The charms were passed out and then Rev. Rachael asked us to close our eyes (or not) and send our good thoughts (prayers) to our handy objects.

Here is a blog I found written by a UU about how people can think of the word “blessing” in a non-secular way:  https://www.uuchurchmuncie.org/redefining-blessing/

The second major event of the Sunday was when the Coming of Age youth came up with their parents and their childhood objects.  Jenn Chylack, Rev. Rachael and I led a short ceremony during which the youth handed over their beloved object for their parents to keep safe for a year while the youth are on a journey of discovery.   There were more than a few moist eyes in the room.

Be well.