Today all the RE children but one were in OWL classes so the little one and I stayed upstairs to enjoy choir Sunday which culminated in Vivaldi’s Magnificat. It was incredible to hear such a complex piece of music played and sung in our small sanctuary. In the middle of the piece I looked over at the three year old he had his eyes closed. I closed mine too. The silences between movements were almost as meaningful as the nine movements themselves.
Thank you UUSA choir and special musical guests!
Happy Earth Day everyone! This past week while the adults were upstairs listening to readings about death and green burials, the children were watering flower seeds of all kinds and doing their best to decorate birdhouses with the most colorful paints. Jacy led a great conversation about Earth Day.
The UU 7th Principle Represented by Tiny Houses.
We are all connected. Our 7th Principle: We believe in caring for our planet Earth, the home we share with all living things.
Last Sunday we started by reading a book Extra Yarn, by Marc Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen. You can read a nice summary by the blog Off the Shelf! here. The story is about a very generous little girl who knits for her whole town which I thought led nicely into an activity involving yarn and the interconnected web we live in.
First we quickly discussed how spiders construct their webs. (Check out this slow mo video!) Having established that spiders start with a “Y” pattern, we placed the UU in the center of our web – after all that was where we were at that moment. Then the children took segments of yarn, length of their choice, and talked about what kinds of places they were connected to. We linked yarn segments to our family and our friends, our schools, our stores, our libraries, our distant relatives, our pets, and guess what we ended up with? You got it – a very cool interconnected web that symbolized our lives in Amherst and beyond.
And then the “wind” came in the form of some very enthusiastic little boys. I will end by saying that painters tape is a great invention.
Most Sundays the children participate in the first ten minutes or so of our UUSA worship service. They sit through the board announcement, the opening words, the chalice lighting and a hymn. Then they come downstairs with me (the DRE) and the volunteers for their own circle time and program. Occasionally they are invited to stay upstairs for a special whole congregational service which may or may not follow the same pattern, but usually it is more interactive than the usual Sunday. This Sunday, thanks to a volunteer mix-up, several preschoolers and a third grader stayed upstairs to listen to the youth service. I’ll get right to the point, sitting through service takes practice, but having the children participate is worth the wiggling and some chatter.
Yes, we brought some toys and some paper and scissors and markers. Yes, we were on the side balcony. Yes, there was movement and whispering and two adults trying to listen and monitor, but there were other things – there was dancing! There was sharing! There were moments of eye contact, there was waving and there was the end of the service the children were included in the congregational closing circle. A giant closing circle compared to our little one downstairs.
A father of one of the five year olds told me he was happy his daughter experienced the service because just the week before she had asked him, “Daddy, what do you do upstairs?” This week she got to hear him sing with the choir. She shared something that makes her afraid during sharing time and she helped the three year old dance, whenever music was played. She was just as engaged, maybe even more, than some of the adults! Another mother shared that her third grader was so intrigued he was taking notes on the order of service. She could also tell that watching and listening to the youth run the worship made him realize his own future potential.
To get back to my point, sitting in service takes practice, but like with many things, practice is good for all of us, no matter how old we are. And with practice we get better. In this case, maybe practice will mean less coloring and cutting and more observing and listening. In this case, it means the adults around the children will have to learn to focus and rise above some wiggling and whispering, unless the children are moved to dance, and then maybe the adults should join in.
Lets listen and sing and dance when we are moved, and let’s do it together. I urge congregations and my congregation to think seriously about including the children more often.