Prometheus and Courageous Love

This past Sunday our wonderful volunteer Ed Tick told the story of Prometheus and how he brought fire to the people. He linked this story to courageous love – one of our UU jagged rocks.

I would like to thank Ed Tick for coming to our UU RE Zoom classes this year. We now have several children who are into myths and could help teach the next unit!

Easter Around the World

Last Sunday Rev. Rachael accepted my challenge and explained Easter in about 5 minutes during our Time for All Ages. Not easy to do! There are a lot of videos, mostly cartoons, that attempt this feat, but I thought we should hear it straight from our UU Minister’s mouth. It was a lot to take in and I am not sure how much was absorbed by young and old, but that’s how these important holidays go. We build our understanding of the holidays as we grow.

In our RE Zoom we talked about the Easter story and then I showed the children photos of how Easter is celebrated around the world. I used this blog for most of my information and then searched the internet for images. We ended with images from Antigua, Guatemala. I was lucky enough to see their traditions first hand in 1999 so I could talk about what it was like to be there.

We ended up talk about how it can be fun and interesting to learn about other religions and the travel it could involve. During Covid it is hard to remember what traveling was like, but one day we will have that option again!

Second Zoom Passover

“Chag Samech”

“Happy Festival”

During the whole congregation Time for All Ages we watched this informative and short video about an Ethiopian Jewish Family in Israel.

During our RE Zoom I read the children the book Only Nine Chairs which you can see read here. It is a very silly book, but it brings up quite a few Seder rituals:

Then we talked a little about the Seder Plate:

Temple Beth El Community Passover Seder. The Seder Plate consists of symbolic foods that have an important significance in retelling the story of the exodus from Egypt, which is the focus of the ritualistic meal. The plate contains of a lamb shank, green lettuce, charoset, parsley, crushed horseraddish root, a egg, an olive which represents peace and an nontraditional item, the orange, which represents inclusivity to all types of people. (Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

And finally in honor of the four questions asked at a Passover Seder, we asked questions! Lots and lots of questions! AND we didn’t try to answer them all.

Spring Equinox

This was a Whole Congregation Sunday which was all about balance. Here is the section of the service that I was in charge of.

Rev. Rachael and I thought we would use the Spring Equinox as an excuse to talk about balance because as you might know during on the day of both the spring and fall equinox there is the same amount of day as night.  It turns out that with a little concentration, a person can use breath and movement to calm themselves.  So, you might be saying, “Of course I know how to breathe!”  Well that’s true.  We are alive because we take breaths and exhales without thinking about it too much.   But it is one thing to breathe and another thing to breathe deeply, balancing your inhale and exhale.  Today we are going to take a few minutes to practice breathing deeply and equally with a technique called Box Breathing.  

I found a cute video to help us visualize this technique.  (We watched until 1:40)

Besides breathing, there are ways people can practice and maintain good balance while you are moving about in this world.  Since we are all sitting in front of Zoom, and most of us are in chairs, I did a little research and discovered that chair yoga is a thing.  And I found a practitioner, her name is Dianne Bondy, who demonstrates a fun and simple way to build balance in movement.  For those of you who can not or do not want to move through her routine I encourage you to continue practicing your breathing while the video plays.  We don’t want anyone to get hurt so you need to use your best judgement.

We watched from 28 seconds to 2:54.

Now, can you guess what I am going to ask you to do?  Yes, let’s try to move and breathe deeply and evenly at the same time in our own ways.  Move in a way that is comfortable with you and if you can,  whatever you do on one side of your body, do on the other side.  We will move and breathe at our own pace for the next minute.

Let’s take a deep breath in together, now exhale.

Light and dark.

Left and right.

Up and Down.

Inhale and exhale.

When you are feeling overwhelmed, scared, stressed, sad, angry or tired I encourage you to try box breathing and moving with intention.  

Stereotypes Can Hurt

This past Sunday we talked about stereotypes.

A stereotype is a picture, idea or belief many people have about a person or a group that is based upon how they look, their religion, or other characteristic. It does not look at differences among individuals. Stereotypes may be untrue or only partly true. 

What is a problem with stereotypes? What harm/damage do they do? They can lead to people judging a group of people based on just a little knowledge – which might not even be true.

During the lesson we looked at pictures while talking about stereotypes that we have heard. Below are just two examples. Boys only like Legos and girls like dolls. Scientists are white men with crazy hair like Einstein.

What should we do if we hear someone using a stereotype, even if it sounds like a compliment? Stand up and say, “Hey! That’s not fair!”

This conversation connected back to …. you guessed it! Our first four UU principles!

1st Principle: We believe that each and every person is important.

2nd Principle: We believe that all people should be treated fairly and kindly.

3rd Principle: We believe that we should accept one another and keep on learning together.

4th Principle: We believe that each person must be free to search for what is true and right in life.

Breathing and Movement

This past Sunday we talked about how it had been a year since we were last together in the UUSA building. We thought about all of the things that take a year and how we all have had different experiences during this past year. Some of the experiences have been sad, and others have been good. Some good advice for kids can be found here: https://kidshelpphone.ca/get-info/let-it-out-how-cope-feeling-sad/

Then we spent time talking about breathing exercises we know. Here is one we have used in service before:

Then we talked about combining breathing with movement and I shared several of my favorite yoga poses. There are a lot of yoga videos out there and it is important to find the right one for you.

But what does this have to do with UU? Well, if we can take care of ourselves and we feel good about ourselves then we will have the ability to take care of others! Here are the first three principles. That we connected to self care.

1st Principle: We believe that each and every person is important.

2nd Principle: We believe that all people should be treated fairly and kindly.

3rd Principle: We believe that we should accept one another and keep on learning together.

START WITH YOURSELF!!

Greek Myth- Creation Story

This past Sunday Ed Tick told us the ancient Greek creation myth. Apparently there are a lot of different versions and even our Greek myth experts didn’t know the one he told us. After each creation Ed asked us to draw what we imagined the creation would look like. The pictures above show what one of our 1st graders imagined for Night and Light, Sky and Earth. What brings all of creation together according to this Greek Myth is LOVE and through LOVE we are all connected. And this ties in very neatly with our UU Principles!

In the process of going through the story we talked about how cultures all over the globe have their own creation stories and how many of them have similar characters and symbols. We will explore these common traits as the year progresses.

Equity

After a zoom version of Simon Says we dove into a discussion about the seven principles. With a little time the group remembered four out of the seven principles ( UU Seven Principles ) and then we talked about the proposed 8th principle. We focused on the words “diversity,” “beloved community” and “racism.”

We listened to a new principle song which includes the 8th Principle!

Following the eighth principle discussion we took at look at the following picture.

We discussed what these drawings show and we focused in on the difference between equality and equity. In a future lesson we will hopefully have time to talk through different scenarios. For a first round, I’d say the children did great. Connecting these pictures to their understanding and the meaning of symbolism is hard work. We also connected this type of work to discrimination with this photo.

We ended with a quick scavenger hunt for things in our house that reminded them of the 7th Principle: We believe in caring for our planet Earth, the home we share with all living things. After a short period of running around we came up with a plastic bottle (to remind us of how much work we have to do), several plants, and glasses of water.

Love Brings Us Together

This past Sunday the RE Ministry organized a Zoom Breakout Service based on LOVE and it went great! Each member of the Ministry took part of the service and facilitated a small group. In the small groups we introduced ourselves, discussed a love poem or quote about love and we practiced the sign language to go with the chorus of Bob Marley’s One Love. The RE Ministry thought since we can not sing with our voices together on zoom (chaos!!) that we could sign together and build some movement into our worship.

Here is what I said when we came back into the “main room” after our break outs:

Thank you so much for participating.  I hope you had some meaningful moments and you got to know some people you might never have met before.  What is nice about this service is that it builds on the service we held last week when we talked about Spiritual Practices.  So far we’ve sung together, we’ve read poetry together and now… we are going to dance together!  If you can’t remember the sign language, use your body language to communicate your love. See below for the signs we learned and the Bob Marley song.

This past Sunday was a perfect example of how a group of lay people can come together and plan a beautiful and meaningful service. Rev. Rachael and I both hope that more people in our congregation will want to learn how to plan and participate in services so that our society can really feel like OUUR society. I hope that the children who were with their parents felt good about participating and I hope that the new people who joined us felt comfortable in joining in.

Next week we’re taking a Zoom break for the school holiday which just happens to be Valentine’s Day!

Rebecca

Spiritual Practices

This past Sunday was a whole congregation Sunday. Rev. Rachael and I incorporated singing, meditation, dancing and prayer into the service.

During my portion of the service I led everyone through a hand meditation. The practice is one way to calm yourself and focus your thoughts. Here is a YouTube video that demonstrates how to do it.

We learned a wonderful song called Shine on Me. Here is is one version of the song sung by Rev. Cleveland:

And then we prayed together and in the process made a group Wordcloud which looked like this!

GOD… (or whatever name you prefer) WE… (are tired, hopeful, sad) SO… (please give us hope, love, light).

There are many ways to practice your spirituality. The important thing is that you keep trying out different practices until you find one that you like. So… learning is a form of practice too!!