The Native American Spirit
The Reverend Cynthia A. Frado led the congregation in a celebration of the wisdom of Native American Elders. With Rev. Frado, the congregation consecrated a Medicine Wheel and listened to the sound of the drum. Rev. Frado hoped “the drum beats would carry people to that place where the heartbeat of nature speaks to your own spirit.”
What would you say the 11th Commandment should be? This past Sunday we talked about the Ten Commandments and how they were similar and different from the UU Principles. Then we read The 11th Commandment which is filled with children’s ideas and drawings of what they think the 11th Commandment should be. My group thought it was interesting that the children featured were from many different kinds of faiths, but they were all basically saying the same thing – we should be good to each other.
Our activity was not exactly related, but in the spirit of creativity and reuse and recycle, I gave the children each 8-10 Guest at Your Table boxes that were left over from the past years’ campaigns. I suggested they could write the Commandments or our Principles or their own thoughts on the sides, but most just wanted to build without guidelines.
There was a lot of glue involved and some colored paper and tape.
Perhaps “Have fun together!” should be the 11th Commandment?
And in the spirit of having fun together, the High School Youth group took a hike up Bear Mountain at the Notch. We had a heartfelt discussion about how walking and being outside can be a worshipful experience. We checked in and we talked about things we can do to let our representatives know we don’t agree in nuclear weapons and war. One of the teens suggested looking online for sites that provide scripts for different topics and representatives’ contact information.
Thanks to all the teens who participated!
This week children used stones as part of their practice bringing their attention to the present moment. They experimented with using their senses as a tool for focus, noticing the sight and feel of stones. Children tried it a couple of different ways, both guided and using a chime as a signal. Later children chose a special stone to keep in a pocket to as a special reminder of qualities that they would like to develop. All kids enjoyed using acrylics to paint the rocks with special symbols.
The children spent the first part of the morning thinking about who they are, what they like, where they like to do things (inside and outside), favorite colors, animals and other important questions. Following the list-making, while they listened to Julius Lester’s book Let’s Talk About Race, they used mirrors and a variety of media to create self portraits.
Lester’s book is a frank discussion written at a child’s level of understanding. What I like about the book is that when you read it out loud it feels like Lester is sitting next to you. The conversational and personal tone makes this difficult subject perfectly normal and every day which is what I think is necessary in order for our children to feel comfortable with the subject. Lester emphasizes that yes, we are all different on the surface and we all like and dislike different things, but deep down, we are all made up of the same bones.
“I am a story. So are you.” – Julius Lester
Unfortunately, there was no time for the children to share details about themselves so we will have to find some time next week. We did have a quick minute to refer to our UU principles and see that Lester, like UUs, advocates for treating people equally.
This year’s water communion took on new meaning since Hurricane Harvey had just devastated the Houston area and Irma was churning up the Florida coast at the very time we were in worship. In an effort to acknowledge the pain, suffering and destruction Rev. Frado led the children in a water pouring ritual that named all the good things we get from water, but also the power of water to take things away.
Congregational RESPONSE after each line: We respect water for all that it gives and all that it takes away.
We need clean water to drink.
We need clean water to bathe ourselves.
We need clean water to grow food.
We need clean water for all the animals of the earth.
We need clean water for the fish and plants in the oceans and
We need water when the land is too dry.
We need to respect the power of water when it floods the land.
We hold in our hearts all those who thirst for water and all those
who have been harmed by it.
We, ourselves, are living streams, and we meet and merge to
become one strong community.
Downstairs we got reacquainted with each other which included writing a new covenant and sharing our joys and concerns.
Our activity for the morning was challenging. I split them into three groups and gave each group a bottle of “dirty” water (water with food coloring, dirt, wood chips, stones). I asked them to figure out how to clean their water and told them they could use the supplies on the table (cotton balls, cotton and muslin cloth, duct tape, various plastic containers and funnels of different sizes).
Oh, how hard it can be to wait your turn, to get people to listen and to figure out jobs so no one feels left out! At the end of the activity (about twenty minutes) each group shared the technique that worked the best for their group. We wrapped the activity up by talking about filters and water systems and how important they are for us to be healthy.
Our certified preschool teacher, Jacy Armenti, will be providing child care during the hours of service on the following dates: 7/9, 7/16, 7/23, 8/13, 8/20, 8/27, 9/3. There will be activities and games available for all ages, including structured investigations and questions to solve every week. Every child will have their voice heard, be part of the community and have fun! If there is no childcare, fidget toys and art supplies are available for children to use during the service.
On 6/18 and 7/30 there is a congregational pancake breakfast. There will not be childcare offered on these Sundays, but families are welcome to come.
This past Sunday we celebrated Flower Communion – perhaps the most colorful and best smelling service we have all year.
The Flower Ceremony, sometimes referred to as Flower Communion or Flower Festival, is an annual ritual that celebrates beauty, human uniqueness, diversity, and community. Originally created in 1923 by Unitarian minister Norbert Capek of Prague, Czechoslovakia, the Flower Ceremony was introduced to the United States by Rev. Maya Capek, Norbert’s widow. In this ceremony, everyone in the congregation brings a flower. Each person places a flower on the altar or in a shared vase. The congregation and minister bless the flowers, and they’re redistributed. Each person brings home a different flower than the one they brought. – UUA
We also celebrated our many new members. Each new member received a certificate, a pin and a rose. Welcome to our new members!
And finally, because we are following our Safer Congregation policies we always have two adults in a room with youth and children, this means we need a lot of volunteers. Thank you to everyone who helped make RE possible: Tom, Lesley, Ashley, Louise, Susan, Kate, Ben, Chaz, Maura, Karen, Karen, Jim, Alysson, Lisa, Jason, Mary, and Amy.
For the children in the congregation – nice job sitting through the service and helping with the flowers!
Think about it – everyone is on their own path in life and we all cross different kinds of bridges. This past Sunday we celebrated our two five year olds who graduated from preschool and will be joining the elementary program next year. To celebrate all of the children sang the UU Principle Song and Magic Penny.
In the second part of worship we had a Bridging Ceremony for our high school seniors. The ceremony included handing them each a rose with thorns (because life can be pretty thorny at times), gardening gloves (because our congregation wants these young adults to know we are there for them), books (and bookmarks) to go along with each of their interests and hand painted mini chalices for them to take on their upcoming journeys. Each senior took a few moments to tell the congregation where they are headed this summer and next year.
Thanks to all who helped to make this day special.
This past Sunday the children walked to War Memorial Park to share memories of the year, memories of those people and pets who have died and also to have fun together. Thank you to the chaperones who accompanied the children and I just want to say how amazing our Preschool Teacher – Jacy is as a teacher, friend and leader!
The preschool class has been discussing the 7th principle this month. With the help of some older classmates (K-2), we recycled some “beautiful junk” into statues, animals, and buildings of our own design!
While this creative business was happening downstairs, upstairs we had 15 Coming of Age youth (7th-9th graders) go through a moving ceremony with the congregation and parents and relatives. The highlight of this ceremony for me is when each youth reads their “I believe” statements. The tearful moments come when the parents hand their youth back their childhood toy and then gives a coming of age present. The presents ranged from sweet to serious to silly. All beautiful!
Thank you to all who helped to make the youth feel welcome and taken care of. And thank you to the older elementary youth who stayed upstairs to listen.