Sometimes, life just feels really busy– especially in the autumn months when families are often busy with back to school, back to church, and back to fall sports and activities. New friends, new routines, new teachers, and lots of new information can feel overwhelming and can make us all feel a little cloudy, or even a little short-tempered.
So we take time together to light a chalice, name what it is we hold on our hearts and minds, breathe, find our calm centers, and ease into the new year, together. This is what Soulwork Sundays are all about– finding that craft, activity, book, movement, friend, that helps clear the cloudiness from our hearts and minds so that we can listen, learn, love and grow.
Join us as we Grow and Serve together and explore spiritual practice as a family:
Upcoming Soulwork Sundays:
February 5th, 2017
March 12, 2017
May 28, 2017
Spiritual Practice meets Homework. Combat homework stress and join us for an introduction to spiritual practice that frames an hour of homework help and crafts alongside church friends. 6:30-7:30pm
Interested in tutoring or sharing your spiritual practice with others? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
WBUUC youth have been exploring materials: wood-burning tools, saws, hammers, paint, string, T-shirts, tiles, glue guns, paper, canvas, cloth, frames, and sand….
Most projects are individual, but we are also creating a work of art for the new resource for homeless youth, North Star Youth Drop-In Center. This week, we will add words of hope and encouragement for the young people visiting the center.
We lit a chalice and said a blessing before getting to work on the painting. Our goal: to send light, and hope out into the world. Love is beautiful, as we know this installation will be.
Grow and Serve Makers Space runs Sundays from 10:00 to 11:15 all summer.
This week has been yet another in a series of terribly difficult weeks. Many of us have more questions, more confusion, and more fear than we know what to do with.
When senseless tragedy strikes, often it is young voices that are able to speak the words that we desperately need to hear. This week is no different.
In Hogwarts, your young UUs were asked a huge question: How can UUs use our magic to shield the world from the Dark Arts?
Each House responded differently, but there are some beautiful common threads:
- “Stand up for a friend.”
- “Be nice and don’t curse stuff.”
- “Make friends. That does not mean fight to make friends.”
- “Be respectful. Be responsible. Be safe. Be a buddy.”
- “Show friendship – speak respectfully.”
- “Amplify the voices of others.”
- “Help others to help others.”
- “There is always more than one choice.”
And finally, from Albus Dumbledore himself:
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
Many soccer balls are made by child slaves.
WBUUC’s PeaceJam youth were shocked to learn about the brutality behind these and other items in our daily lives. They are asking administers at four schools to use only fair trade-certified suppliers for uniforms and sports gear.
Meetings start with a chalice lighting and blessing, because this work is sobering. “This is so sad,” a youth said. “A soccer ball is something we play with. And what about everything else we buy and use?”
So the group set out to find ways to identify and teach about fair trade produces. In June they will attend the Nobel Peace Prize Youth Conference with Kailash Satyarthi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for reducing child slavery in the rug industry by introducing fair trade certification.
PeaceJammers do both advocacy and service. They’ve written letters on child rights and three attended a conference on the topic. They’ve made 38 KIVA loans totaling $950 to third world entrepreneurs, cut blankets for homeless kids, and helped pack meals for low-income students – a project they hope to move into more deeply next year. New members are welcome! Write Jill at email@example.com.
They’ve had a lot of fun along the way. One night, they had a vibraphone to experiment with. The room was filled with soothing music and laughter. We yearn for every child to be free to enjoy such blessings.
Acceptance speeches by 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureates Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzi at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNZNbcf5Hd8
Educational Resource on Sports Balls and Fair Trade http://www.judesfairtrade.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Sports-Balls-Case-Study_FT-A-Better-Deal.pdf
The Big Dipper led the way to freedom.
People in slavery called it the drinking gourd as they followed it north. In other countries it’s been known as Charles’ Wagon, King David’s Chariot, a Plough, and the Leg of the Bull. Seeing and naming are creative acts. Our understanding of the divine is also shaped by human ingenuity and culture.
Young people thought hard about the creative forces that brought about humans ourselves. They played, too, with improvements they might make to the human design. One kind of human stayed full when they ate – so no one would ever go hungry again. Some were orbs of various colors, each shimmering with what they loved:
Other designs: Two heads with wings and one shining heart; beautiful circles that can never be hurt; organic interweaving between individuals; geometric shapes that change and fit cooperatively with others; gentle dragons:
Consider: What changes would you make to the human form? What changes are you actually able to make to your own spirit, relationships, aspirations, mind, body, work, daily practice?
Big Dipper article: http://www.twincities.com/2016/05/15/mike-lynch-sky-watch-big-dipper/
This Month’s Theme
Wisdom: The Practice of Unknowing
We have so much to learn from one another, and Unitarian Universalist Religious Education is so much about learning to stay awake so that we may notice the beauty and wisdom that is found everywhere, in everyone, and in every moment. This week, we practiced finding wisdom in lots of different places; from the wisdom in those who take care of us, to sitting in silence, and from the wisdom that comes from being in community with one another, to thinking about the 6 UU Sources of Wisdom.
2nd-5th graders spent time outdoors as they explored the possibility of “one square inch of silence”
Core concepts from this week’s lessons:
Pre-K: We find wisdom in our friends and relationships.
K-1: We find wisdom when we share and learn together as a community.
2nd-3rd: Unitarian Universalists find wisdom from many different sources.
4th & 5th: We find wisdom in silence.
Like plants, youth grow.
Whether they are planted in soil that is difficult or rich, they stretch toward health. Positive Youth Development is a constructive, measurable model of how “nutrient” rich a young person’s life is. I am grateful to Jacob, Elinor, and Anika – youth who helped run a workshop on it at the MidAmerica UUA Regional Assembly.
The Search Institute has identified forty assets that correlate with lower risking-taking and higher healthy behaviors in young people. Half the assets are internal -things like a sense of personal control, peaceful conflict resolution skills, or reading for pleasure. Half are external – such as a caring school climate, support from non-parent adults, or being involved in a youth group. Raising the number of assets can bring positive change across several domains at once. Like a balloon that’s more full, the young person has more “bounce” to be resilient and to aim high.
The number of assets is more predictive of youth thriving and risk avoidance than are family backgound, race/ethnicity, or geographic location – and can add nuance to understanding each of those factors. This model points the way for whole communities – not just parents – to play a role. It also can show young people specific things they can do to help themselves be more resilient.
Consider: Whether you are young or old, what simple steps can you take to be an asset for a young person in your life? Do you make an effort to let small moments count with a smile or a word of hello?
Learn more at Search-institute.org
At a nearby college, 60-70% of students are food insecure.
An, a WBUUC member and parent, started a resource center at Century College to help out. She asked for WBUUC’s partnership.
An gathered the youth twice to pack ready-to-go lunches for students, including some who are homeless.
If all goes well, we will be assembling lunches and snacks regularly, starting with the fall school year. This is a simple way for young people to show care for college students.
WBUUC youth challenged themselves at Camp St. Croix.
Twelve youth and four parents traveled to Hudson May 1st for a day of team-building, group problem-solving, and low ropes elements. No one moved out of their sense of personal control, but all the youth were asked to push their boundaries outward just a bit.
A day like this moves you, psychologically, emotionally, and physically. Individual youth came away proud of meeting personal goals, large or small. New friendships, a gorgeous day, and the surprise treat of cake made the experience fun and successful.
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” – Rachel Carson
Young teens and children planted pollinator-friendly seeds at WBUUC’s Earth Day celebration, sending some home with congregants. The older youth wrote public leaders to press for environmentally responsible policy, and did some work on a children’s book on protecting bees from pesticides. Joined by one young child, they taught religious ed classes about the monarch butterfly’s amazing life cycle, migration, and dependence on milkweed.
Thank you to everyone, across the generations, who demonstrated the UU principle of respect for the interdependent web of life. “This is our home,” said one child. “We have to take care of it and show people how to take care of it.”
Cover Image: The Eddy – artist Gerhard Hellman
This Month’s Theme
Soul: The Practice of Diving Deep
This week, we focused on building community by thinking about the gifts that we can share with each other, our loved ones and the world. We reminded each other that every one of us has something bright and beautiful to share with the world and the sharing of these gifts can make the world a better place.
Core concepts from this week’s lessons:
Pre-K: We grow our souls when we work together to build community.
K-1: We grow our souls by being together and sharing with one another.
2nd-3rd: We grow our souls by sharing our time and love with others.
4th & 5th: We grow our souls when we use our power to stand up for others