As we approach the holiday season, I am once again experiencing feelings of loss. Loss is all around us. There is the loss of our ability to be near family and friends, the loss of jobs, of homes, of traditions.
It is so easy to get caught up in mourning what we have lost in this pandemic. We are also being asked to come up with creative ways to live in this new normal when our creativity is often tapped out. It can be quite overwhelming. And all of these feelings of grief and loss and anger and sadness and overwhelm are real, true, and valid.
But as Rev. Dan pointed out in his sermon on Oct. 25, it is important to think about, “What else is true?”
There are some truths that I have found helpful in those moments. Hopefully, some of them will ring true to you as well and provide glimmers of hope in these difficult times.
Perfection is impossible.
· You are enough. Even if all you can manage today is to order food delivery and watch some TV, that’s okay. Do what you can do. You are enough. You are loved. You are not alone.
· Everything is perspective. All advice, even from experts, comes from a specific perspective. Only you truly know yourself and what you really need. This will be different from what other people need for themselves. Comparison of yourself to others is never accurate and rarely useful.
· Don’t get caught up in the fallacy that “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” That’s not true. People are given more than they can handle all the time. That is why you have other people in your life. You are part of a community full of people who want to help you. You don’t have to handle anything alone. Reach out if you want/need connection or help. We are here for you.
· The first principle of Unitarian Universalism applies to you, too. You have inherent worth and dignity no matter what you do or don’t do. You do not have to produce anything or perform in a specific way in order to earn your worth.
You can do hard things.
· You have a track record of making it through 100% of the hard times in your life. You can do this, too.
Together, we can get through this. Take care of yourself and each other.
As we move into October and our Soul Matters theme of Deep Listening, I am reflecting on how important it is to listen to the call within our own hearts, to periodically take time to reflect on our lives and discern the next best steps on our path. Each of our journeys is unique and we are the only ones who can determine how we want to exist in the world.
With that in mind, we are offering two different programs within our senior youth group this year. The 9-11 graders will have the opportunity to participate in the Coming of Age program throughout the year. Coming of Age (COA) is a first step in developing a lifelong skill of discernment about what it means to live a life of faith, individually and as part of the larger Unitarian Universalist (UU) faith community.
The senior class, most of whom completed Coming of Age when they were younger, will meet once a month to discuss the issues and learn skills to help them transition into young adulthood. There are many decisions to make as one moves from adolescence into adulthood, and it is more important than ever for youth to revisit their individual values, and how to live those values in the world.
I invite you to
support our youth in whatever ways you are able this year as they all do the
challenging work of personal discernment and development. Keep them in
your thoughts and prayers, volunteer to be a Coming of Age mentor, participate
in social justice activities with them, send cards or notes, listen to them
when they speak or share, or maybe you have some other ideas!
By Bridget Laflin
Director of Religious Education
Summer is winding down and we are ramping up for a church and school year like no other. All of us are feeling the pressure of figuring out how to create a new normal during these challenging times. WUUC’s Religious Education Committee is no different.
But we are very excited about the upcoming church year and the offerings we are preparing for religious education for children and youth. We will be kicking off our fall RE program on Sept. 20. Here are just a few highlights:
All Ages Interactive Chapel on Sunday mornings
Online Bitmoji RE classroom that students can access whenever they want
Social justice projects for junior and senior youth
Coming of Age program for 9-11 graders
Monthly online regional youth cons
We will be
reaching out to ALL members of the congregation to ask for support for our
online RE programs. Since much of the content will be pre-recorded and
the children will access it at their convenience, we will be looking for people
from the congregation to make short recordings so that our children get
exposure to the faces and voices of their church family. We will be
looking for people to record some of the following things to share with the
Chalice Lightings / Extinguishings
Reading or telling stories
Craft / art demonstrations
Movement exercises (body prayers, yoga, dances etc)
Demonstrate a skill (building, cooking, garden etc.)
Messages of encouragement / affirmation
We can’t wait to share in the experiences of our talented
By Bridget Laflin
Director of Religious Education
Will you breathe with
me? Take a deep breath in slowly. Exhale slowly. Repeat as many times as
necessary to feel a bit of calm.
Let’s just take a
minute and remember that we love each other. At the very least, remember that I
love all of you.
This pandemic is causing
a lot of fear. And when we are afraid, we hold onto whatever we think will keep
us safe. We have difficulty thinking clearly. It is so easy to create an us vs.
them and forget that we are all interconnected and dependent on one another.
The truth is that there simply isn’t enough information about this virus. Statistics are unclear due to inconsistent testing, reporting, etc. Long-term effects are unknown. There is no vaccine yet, and speculations abound as to when or if it can be developed; much less the effectiveness of this potential vaccine when/if it is developed. It may be years before we have those kinds of answers.
What we do have right
now is each other.
difficulties, and lack of physical contact can all cause or contribute to
depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
And depression and
hopelessness can be as deadly as any virus.
Let’s think about how
we can support each other rather than focus on the illusion of separateness. Remember
we are ALL interconnected.
That might mean working
on our humility; admitting that we might be wrong and that we don’t have all of
the information. It might mean digging deep to find grace and compassion. It
might mean putting in time and effort to search for the deeper fears and
motivations for our own actions. It might mean looking for what is underneath
other people’s anger and addressing that rather than reacting to the anger
This is an incredibly
trying and difficult time, my friends. And I believe that loving-kindness and
compassion can get us through this together.
It is not in any way
simple or easy, but I believe in us.
I love you. You are not
Justice and Peace,
Stewardship season is upon us again. It is the time in the church year when we are thinking about our pledges, our resources, what we want to give to the church, and what we feel we can afford. It is also the time of year when we plan our annual church budget, which is a true reflection of our values and what we deem important as a congregation.
And so, it seems to me, that it makes sense that we review where we are focusing our money and energy, and what values are being reflected by our choices. As a community, we are doing a lot of wonderful things, but it has everyone spread pretty thin. I feel that acutely in the Religious Education (RE) program. Parents, students, teachers, volunteers and leaders are all juggling so much. It is difficult for anyone to commit more time to anything, including religious education. This has resulted in smaller attendance numbers and fewer volunteers.
In order to best utilize the resources that we do have, the Religious Education Committee has come to the decision to scale back the Sunday morning RE program through the end of May. This means that there will be two Sundays per month in which the children will experience the worship service with the community rather than going to class. (Nursery and pre-school RE will continue every week.) I look forward to the community bonding that we can experience by sharing more worship services with our children.
And even though we are cutting back the number of classes, we
are still in need of more volunteers. As you review your commitments to
WUUC, perhaps you can make a small sacrifice and volunteer to help with one RE
class between now and the end of May. Just one Sunday morning would
reflect that you value the religious education of our community’s
Thank you for all that you do to make WUUC a special and sacred
As I thought about the January and February Soul Matters themes of Integrity and Resilience and how these concepts relate to our Religious Education program, I began to think about the challenges and successes that our RE program has faced this year.
This fall, we combined our First-Eighth graders into a single class on Sunday mornings. There have been amazing moments of leadership from some of our older children along with some difficult situations that come from having such a broad age range of students working together. I have witnessed some beautiful relationships form between some of the older kids and some of the younger children, and I’ve seen how frustrated both the children and adults can feel when there are conflicts due to varied expectations and levels of understanding.
All of these
types of experiences happen not just in RE class, but in many different places
in our congregation. Beautiful relationships form that might never have
happened without a shared church community. Frustrations occur when there
are different levels of understanding on specific topics. Sometimes
unexpected leaders emerge from within groups, which can be wonderful or it can
How our children and youth learn to handle these difficult situations while they are young will teach them how to resolve conflict and how to live in right relationship with other people as they grow. They learn some of these skills at school and in Religious Education programs, but they learn most from watching the adults around them. Our children and youth are watching the adult members of the congregation to observe how conflict is handled. And from us they are learning how to live in right relationship within a beloved church community.
Are they witnessing the congregation handle their disputes in healthy ways, with integrity and resilience? Or are there other lessons they are learning?
This month, let
us be mindful of what it means to be a people of resilience by working to
resolve conflicts and mend relationships in healthy ways, not just for our own
sakes, but also for the sake of the children and youth.