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!
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.
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.