Here’s How to Practice Being Thankful

Here’s How to Practice Being Thankful

It has been my practice for the past few years to share something I am grateful for each day in November. And in December, I post a virtual Advent Calendar of Kindness. Each day in December, I post something small that people can do to make the world a better place.

This year, as I posted my daily gratitude posts, I was very aware of how much I need to practice being thankful.  Gratitude has been essential to my mental health and has helped me have enough motivation to continue my work.  In this busy time of the winter holidays, I encourage you to take some time to remember what you are grateful for.  Share your gratitude with others and, if you can, give other people something to be grateful for as well. 

If you are having a hard time feeling grateful or joyful, here is a meditation that may help.

Meditation on Gratitude and Joy

By Jack Kornfield (https://gratefulness.org/resource/meditation-on-gratitude-and-joy/)

Let yourself sit quietly and at ease. Allow your body to be relaxed and open, your breath natural, your heart easy. Begin the practice of gratitude by feeling how year after year you have cared for your own life. Now let yourself begin to acknowledge all that has supported you in this care:

With gratitude I remember the people, animals, plants, insects, creatures of the sky and sea, air and water, fire and earth, all whose joyful exertion blesses my life every day.

With gratitude I remember the care and labor of a thousand generations of elders and ancestors who came before me.

I offer my gratitude for the safety and well-being I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the blessing of this earth I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the measure of health I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the family and friends I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the community I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the teachings and lessons I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the life I have been given.

Moving Forward in Gratitude

Moving Forward in Gratitude

It’s hard to believe that it is already November!  It has been my tradition for the past few years to share a daily gratitude post on social media throughout the month of November. It feels like right now there is so much to be grateful for! 

We will soon be able to regather for church services and activities in person. Most of our children will soon be eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations. Life feels so valuable and precious, and I am grateful for so many things.

I have so much gratitude for the WUUC congregation and your commitment to maintaining the connection of our beloved community throughout the past year and a half. I have witnessed so many instances of love, compassion, kindness, creativity, and hard work from you all as we have navigated this new world we live in. I want you to know that your contributions have been seen. Your dedication is appreciated, and I am so grateful for you.

As we move forward into the next phase of our congregational life, I rejoice in this beloved community and am deeply grateful for all of you.

Peace and Laughter,

Bridget

An Overview of RE

An Overview of RE

Hello WUUC! 

Below is a summary of the programs that we are planning on offering for the children and youth this year at WUUC.  If you have any questions or would like more information on any of these offerings, please let me know.

Elementary and Preschool Programs:

Mini-worship:  Mini-worship is an online 15-minute worship service geared toward children that takes place at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings prior to the large WUUC worship service. 

Twice monthly in-person (outdoor, masked) events: These events will feature a main project as well as other options for the kids. They will primarily be a chance for the kids to connect with other kids and families, and will not utilize a specific curriculum.  

PNWD Collaborative Online RE: The leaders from several churches in the PNWD are collaborating to offer a weekly online RE class for students in Kindergarten – Fifth grade. This will offer our children a chance to be in class with more than just one or two students. And we will be able to take advantage of resources from several congregations. The elementary class will explore UU values and identity through stories and discussion while building caring community with one another.

Middle School Programs:

1. Monthly in-person (outdoor, masked) events:  These events will primarily be a chance for the youth to connect with one another, and will not utilize a specific curriculum. The youth may choose to do some fundraising events, social justice projects or other community projects, or they may just want to get together to have fun.  

2.  Crossing Paths:  WUUC is offering a year long class on Sunday evenings called “Crossing Paths.”  Crossing Paths was designed for middle school students, but we will open enrollment to all members of the congregation ranging from Middle School to Adult. We will learn about nine faith traditions: Unitarian Universalism, Judaism, Catholicism, Protestant Christianity, Evangelical Christianity, the Quaker tradition, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism.  Each section is made up of four weekly classes and will include a visit (virtual or in person) to another faith community and/or a discussion with a faith leader from that tradition.

3.  PNWD Collaborative Online Junior Youth Group: The leaders from several churches in the PNWD are collaborating to offer a weekly online middle school youth group. This will offer the youth a chance to be in a youth group with more than just a few students. They will get a chance to know UU Youth from other congregations around the region and form connections. During our time together, our focus will be on building community and having fun together while deepening our understanding of how we live our values in the world and how we answer the “big questions” for ourselves.

High School Programs:

1. Monthly in-person (outdoor, masked) events: These events will primarily be a chance for the youth to connect with one another, and will not utilize a specific curriculum. The youth may choose to do some fundraising events, social justice projects or other community projects, or they may just want to get together to have fun.  

2.  Crossing Paths:  WUUC is offering a year long class on Sunday evenings called “Crossing Paths”.   Crossing Paths was designed for middle school students, but we will open enrollment to all members of the congregation ranging from Middle School to Adult.   We will learn about 9 faith traditions: Unitarian Universalism, Judaism, Catholicism, Protestant Christianity, Evangelical Christianity, the Quaker tradition, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism.  Each section is made up of 4 weekly classes and will include a visit (virtual or in person) to another faith community and/or a discussion with a faith leader from that tradition.

3.  PNWD Collaborative Online Youth Group: The leaders from several churches in the PNWD are collaborating to offer a weekly online youth group. This will offer the youth a chance to be in a youth group with more than just a few students. They will get a chance to know UU Youth from other congregations around the region and form connections. The first few sessions will focus on getting to know one another and exploring meaning making and our beliefs. Youth will have the opportunity to choose what they would like to explore for the remainder of the year after the first couple of months. 

4. Trip to GA in Portland in June: The youth will have the opportunity to travel together to Portland, OR in June for the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly.  Fundraising and preparation meetings for that trip will also happen throughout the church year. 

Wizards and Rainbows and Minecraft, Oh My!

Wizards and Rainbows and Minecraft, Oh My!

photo by Nikita Jukov from Flikr

This summer, WUUC combined with several other congregations in the Pacific Northwest to offer online summer camp opportunities for our children. I had the honor of being a “professor” at the Wizarding camp for ages 5-13 and leading the Rainbow Path camp for grades K-2. There was also a Minecraft Camp for grades 3-5. Each camp was a week long. We learned so much and had so much fun!

My take-aways from our Zoom Summer Camps:

  • As always, I was amazed by the creativity of the campers as they created art, music and skits.
  • The youth counselors (high school students from the congregations) were so fabulous!  They brought excitement, technical expertise, compassion, joy and so much leadership skill to the job of guiding the younger campers.
  • The collaboration of the DREs, volunteers and other congregational leaders was such a blessing. When plans had to change at the last minute, or unexpected things arose, there was a network of wonderful people who seamlessly picked up the pieces and put them back together. It was a true group effort.
  • The young people in our congregations exhibited so much kindness and patience during camp. They were understanding of tech issues, varying levels of education and skill, and so supportive of one another in ways that warmed my heart.
  • The campers’ intelligence and willingness to learn brought me so much hope.
  • The joy and laughter we experienced together reminded me that we can still share meaningful moments if we are willing to open ourselves to the silly, the strange, try new things, and are willing to bring our whole selves to our interactions with others.

Hopefully, next year we can hold camps and summer activities in person, but in the meantime, let us follow the example of our youngest congregants and embrace the joy and fun in the times that we can be together, whether in person or virtually.

It Takes a Village: What Can We Create Together?

It Takes a Village: What Can We Create Together?

Hello Beloved WUUC Community!

As we begin a new church year and think about our in-person-gathering plans, it is once again time to think about how each of us will share our time and talents with one another.  One of the most important concepts of Unitarian Universalism is to support one another as we grow and learn. Sometimes we focus on our own learning, and sometimes we focus on helping others along their journey. This year, I want to invite you to consider a volunteer position that does both: Teaching!

Several of our current teachers are taking a well-deserved break from teaching this year, and many of our youth volunteers have graduated and are moving away. As a result, we need  Religious Education teachers and volunteers at all levels: Nursery/pre-school, elementary, middle school and high school. In addition, we will probably need facilitators for all levels of Our Whole Lives (OWL) comprehensive sexuality education classes.  

We have many new families with children who have been attending our virtual services and I am envisioning a vibrant  and revitalized religious education program this year. But in order to make that a reality, we need your help.  

So, I encourage you to think about your talents. What do you have to share? Do you like telling stories or crafting or cooking or making music or art or building? Could you help teach meditation or dance or games?  Do you want to share your passion about a social justice issue with the next generation? Are you invested in politics or philosophy or nature or sports or coding? What skills and talents do you have that you could share with the young UU’s in our congregation? Or maybe you don’t know how your particular gifts could be shared. Just let me know. I am more than happy to work with you to figure out how your gifts and talents can fit into our Religious Education program this year.

I know it can be intimidating or seem like a big commitment. But if we have enough volunteers, the commitment isn’t too great.  And I promise that the kids at WUUC aren’t so scary.  They are an amazing group of young people who constantly provide profound insights and teach us as much as we touch them. And you will not be alone. You will have all of the support that the Religious Education Committee and I can provide.

It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes the commitment of our whole church community to raise our children.  I can’t wait to see what we create together!

Peace,
Bridget

Let’s Not Rush

Let’s Not Rush

As we get closer to reopening church, it is tempting to try to rush back into the building and try to “get back to normal.”  We miss each other and need connection.  AND as a faith community that strives to live into shared values, the decisions of how and when to reopen, and in what capacities is not as simple as it is for businesses.

CB Beal, a consultant on welcoming and inclusion, wrote an amazing blog post on the subject from a Unitarian Universalist perspective. It is long, but I think it is very much worth the read. For those of us not involved in the decision-making process, it highlights things that the reopening committee is considering and gives us a perspective as to why this process is not as simple as it may seem from the outside.

The link to CB’s post can be found here: “Thoughts About Inclusion Before Reopening: So Close We Can Taste It”

Please be patient for a little while longer.  We will soon be together again.  We just need make sure that we are all safe and included when we are.

Love and Laughter,

Bridget