Upon reflection, this month’s theme of “Becoming” seems particularly appropriate to the times we live in.
For the past year, we have been in quarantine, isolated in a way that most of us have never experienced before. As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more and more widely available, we are beginning to consider what our post-quarantine life will look like.
During this in between and planning time, it seems a fitting time to reflect on who we have become and are becoming due to this massive shake-up in our lives. How have we changed? What lessons have we learned? Who am I becoming? And who are we becoming together?
My hope is that we have all found blessings and things to be grateful for in this pandemic time, and that we can hold on to those gifts as we move forward together and figure out our new normal. Rather than trying to go back to the way things were, what would it be like to reimagine our lives to incorporate those gifts and lessons into our lives going forward? Instead of falling back into old patterns, perhaps we can dream up new ways of being together, supporting each other, learning together and worshiping with one another. Who and what do we want to become at this moment in time?
I think right now we have a wonderful opportunity to begin again in love. I hope you will join me in imagining what that might look like.
This pandemic has been hard on everyone, but parents and students have a unique set of struggles. And as we are recognizing a year since lockdown began, it seems that right now things seem even more difficult. I want you to know that you are all amazing, both the kids and the parents who are doing their best. YOU ARE ALL SUPERHEROES!
The following post by Christine Deregowski says it better than I can.
I’ve lost a year with my kids battling over school and I’m done.
My seven year old and I were in the midst of our usual asynchronous day battle. I had his writing homework in my hand from school. He’d written several full, well-thought-out sentences.
But he won’t do the same for me, at least not without a fight.
I told him he didn’t have to write about his best day like his teacher asked, he could write about his worst. He could write about whatever he wanted as long as he wrote a few sentences.
He said he’d get in trouble. He said he was doing a bad job in first grade. He was on the brink of tears but didn’t know why.
And it hit me.
Instead of getting frustrated and pushing the assignment, I sat down with him at his desk in his superhero bedroom.
I said “you won’t get in trouble and you can’t fail first grade. In fact, you’re kind of a superhero yourself.”
He sat up in his chair just a little and looked at me with disbelief.
I said, “Do you know that no kids in the history of kids have ever had to do what you’re doing right now? No kids in the history of kids have ever had to do school at home, sitting in their bedroom, watching their teacher on a computer. You and your friends are making history.”
A visible weight lifted from his seven year old shoulders, “What does that mean?”
I told him it means I haven’t given him nearly enough credit for rolling with the punches. I told him how proud I am of him and his friends. That kids this year are doing the impossible and they’re doing a really great job.
I apologized for not saying it sooner and more often. A little tear fell down his cheek.
We’ve thanked everyone from healthcare workers to grocery store employees but we haven’t thanked the kids enough for bearing the burden of what we’ve put on their shoulders this year.
We’ve said kids are resilient, and they are. But they are the real superheroes in this whole scenario for having ZERO say in their lives but doing their best to adjust every day.
We closed his school-issued laptop and spent the rest of the day playing. This was supposed to be temporary and here we are a year later still trying to hold our head above water.
This is our home and I won’t turn it into a battle ground anymore over something we can’t control. Something that no longer makes sense.
Hug your little superheroes today and don’t forget to cut them the slack we’ve given everyone else.
In mini-worship this month, we have been talking with the children about their unique and special talents. We all have things that only we can contribute to the world. We can use these gifts and talents to improve our own lives, the lives of our families, friends, and the larger world.
Sometimes it is as simple as sharing a smile or a kind word. Sometimes it is something requiring specialized education, complex reasoning skills, or artistic talent. Whatever your talents, skills, and gifts, you have something special and unique that only you can put into the world.
During our worship service on Jan. 24, we co-created a word cloud with examples of what we are inspired to put into the world. If you were not able to participate in making the word cloud, I hope you can use it as inspiration for some of your own ideas. If you were able to participate, I hope this serves as a reminder of your inspiration.
Never forget that you are special. There is love and magic and beauty that only you possess. I encourage you to regularly spend time sharing your unique and special gifts to bless the world.
“All of us need all of us to make it.” – Rev. Theresa I. Soto
Even though we humans haven’t been making use of the church buildings, it seems that the puppets and stuffies have been having a wonderful time. And hey seem to have welcomed Rev. Dan’s new puppet friend Winston the Wolf to join their fun!
They have been making crafts:
Playing in the nursery:
Having circle time:
And celebrating the holidays!
Hoping you all experienced as much holiday magic as the stuffies and puppets did.
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!