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.
This past Sunday we discussed Climate Change upstairs and downstairs we talked about the Connecticut River which flows by our neighboring towns, including Sunderland and Hadley. The CT River is an incredible watershed system that starts on the Quebec and Vermont border and runs all the way down to the Atlantic eventually joining the salt water in Connecticut. On Saturday the 28th of September the UUSA will be joining the Connecticut River Conservancy in a massive cleanup initiative that they organize every year. To prepare for that work I thought we should get to know the river and how our work connects to the UU principles.
To prepare for the clean up day we talked about the plants and animals that live along and in the river. I handed out small print outs of about 20 different species to the kids who were sitting in a circle. I then asked them to think about what their animals ate or who ate their plants and when a connection was made we passed a ball of yarn and strung a yarn link between the two. Soon we had a web of crisscrossing yarn to symbolize the connections between the plants and the insects and the fish and the birds and the mammals. Then we talked about what would happen if pollution started to effect different species and one by one the connections were broken. When we were left with nothing but a pile of snipped yarn I asked how the activity helped to demonstrate one of our principles. A few of the older children knew the answer. The seventh principle of Unitarian Universalism states, ” Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”
After this activity I had two more for the children to do. The younger children looked at photos of the river and drew pictures. The older children wrote letters to Dunkin’ and Cumberland Farms because it turns out that a lot of the plastic and Styrofoam that is picked up from the river comes from those two stores! Hey Dunkin’ and Cumberland – stop serving food in plastic and foam!!
This past Sunday was our Water In Gathering Ceremony. (For more on the original water ceremony click here.) Our new minister, Rev. Rachael, changed a lot of things around including the chairs. We were all facing each other like we were in a really big wide boat! And for the first time in years we had an inter generational service to celebrate coming back together. We have a lot to look forward to this year and I look forward to sharing my Sundays with all of you.
This coming Sunday we will start upstairs and be sung down and our topic of the morning will be… the Connecticut River.