CliF Notes

A curriculum for families and small groups

 

 September 2019

 

Week One – September 1st

Many Paths Up the Mountain

 

Supplies Needed: Cushions, pillows, chairs, bins and/or other objects for creating an obstacle course

 

Opening Words

 

Every flame belongs to the sun.

Every drop of water belongs to the ocean.

Every beating heart belongs to the family of life.

 

Or

 

We are Unitarian Universalists (shape hands fingers up to form two “Us”)

This is the home of the open mind (touch fingers to forehead and open out)

This is the home of the flaming chalice that lights our way to truth. (cup hands thumbs out and hold up)

This is the home of the loving heart (fold hands over heart)

This is the home of the helping hands (hold hands out)

Together we care for our earth

And work for peace in our world. (join hands amongst the group)

  

Or, for older kids:

 

In the freedom of truth

and the love of justice

We bring all that we are

to shape what we yet can be.

 

 

Check in

You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

 

Centering

We’ll begin by standing in a circle, with everyone holding hands. Imagine that there is an energy which connects us that flows from hand to hand, like electricity flowing through a wire. We’re going to feel that energy as a pulse from our left hand, and we’ll pass it on by squeezing the hand that’s in our right hand. Try to keep the energy pulse going around the circle by squeezing your right hand just after then person next to you squeezes your left hand.

 

Introduction

Over the course of the coming year we’re going to be looking at religions from around the world, learning what different religions might have to teach us, and how they might connect with our Unitarian Universalist faith. We’ll begin our new year next week, the Sunday after Labor Day when many UU churches will be celebrating a water ceremony along with us. But this week will lead us into our big questions of the year: What is religion, and how do various traditions from around the world understand what it means to be religious?

 

 Story

 

“Many Paths to God” by Mary Anne Moore

 

Note: as written, the story uses puppets. You might want to have different participants read the roles of the four travelers and the narrator, or simply tell the story.

Narrator:

Once upon a time, four travelers from different lands met near a mountain. The travelers had been told that if they climbed the mountain, they would find God at the top. Around the bottom of the mountain were many paths to choose from. The travelers had each been told beforehand which of the paths to take. They also had been told that only that path would bring them to God.

The travelers met each other at the bottom of the mountain and told each other of their search for God.

Puppet Number 1:

I am trying to find God. I have been told that of all these paths, the right path to take is that one, the flowery meadow path. I have been told that if I follow it, at the top I will find God, the Great Mother of All.

Puppet Number 2:

That's interesting. I have been told that the right path to take is that steep, cliff-side path over there, and if I follow it, at the top I will find God, the Great Father in Heaven.

Puppet Number 3:

Strange that we have all been told to follow different paths. I have been told that the right path is that wide river valley path, and if I follow it, at the top I will find God, the Great Spirit in All Things.

Puppet Number 4:

Yes, this is strange. I have been told to follow even a different path. My path is the deep forest path, and I'm told if I follow it, at the top I will find God, the Great Peaceful Silence.

Narrator:

The travelers were surprised to hear about the other paths, because they were sure the path they had been told to follow was the only right one. They even tried to convince the others to follow their chosen path.

Puppet Number 1:

I'm sure my way is the right one.

Puppet Number 2:

Change your minds and come my way.

Puppet Number 3:

Don't you think it would be best for you to come this way?

Puppet Number 4:

You really ought to take the forest path.

Narrator:

But none would change. Each was sure that their way was the right way. So, bidding each other good-bye, they began their journeys to the top. As they started out, each was singing a song of praise to God. They could hear each other's songs in the distance and they all thought the other songs sounded strange. But off they went on their chosen paths. They soon were traveling alone and could no longer hear any of the others. Sometimes following the path was easy and sometimes it was hard.

Finally, each traveler neared the top of the mountain. They began to hear the other travelers' songs once again, but now they realized how beautiful the others' songs were, even though they were very different than their own. All four came to the top within minutes of each other. They stopped and eagerly looked around.

Puppet Number 1:

Oh, Great Mother of All, I have found you!

Puppet Number 2:

Oh, Great Father in Heaven, I have found you!

Puppet Number 3:

Oh, Great Spirit in All Things, I have found you!

Puppet Number 4:

Oh, Great Peaceful Silence, I have found you!

Narrator:

But all of them were seeing and calling out to the same God. Then they realized that they had all been searching for the same thing, though each had called it by a different name and each had taken a different path. At this, they reached out for each other's hands, formed a circle right there on the top of the mountain, and began to sing again. And now, as each of them sang their songs, there seemed to be only one song, a joyous song of love for God.

(From the UUA’s Tapestry of Faith, https://www.uua.org/re/tapestry/children/lovesurrounds/session9/many-paths)

  

Activity

As a group, create an obstacle course using furniture, pillows, couch cushions, boxes, bins or whatever you have available. When it’s built, come up with different rules for how the course must be completed—different start and end locations or requiring that each object be touched or forbidding touching certain items or doing the course without putting feet on the group, etc. Have participants do the course following the different rules.

 

Discussion

Which way of doing the course was best? Was it best because it was “right” or because you as an individual enjoyed it the most? Was there more than one right way to do the course even within the same rules? Did it help you do the course to have watched someone else do it?

 

One way to understand religion is that it is a way of answering questions that science can’t answer. What happens when we die? What does it look like to be a good person? What is the biggest thing we all belong to? These are questions that we can’t know the final, absolute answers to—you can’t run scientific experiments to find out. But we can look at the different ways that people across time and around the globe have tried to address these questions, and learn from them. The point isn’t to find out the one right answer or the one right path. It’s to learn about how we can be on the journey together. 

 

Closing

Have participants close their eyes for a couple of minutes and imagine a journey in which they are looking for—and find—God. Invite participants to share what the God they found was like.


 Week Two – September 8th

A Gathering of the Waters

 

Supplies Needed: Two large bowls, cup or other waterproof container per person, a variety of waterproof (or water-resistant) recyclable items, scissors or hammer and awl for adult or older children to put holes in water-tight containers, hot glue gun with glue, waterproof tarp

 

Opening Words

 Every flame belongs to the sun.

Every drop of water belongs to the ocean.

Every beating heart belongs to the family of life.

 

Or

 

We are Unitarian Universalists (shape hands fingers up to form two “Us”)

This is the home of the open mind (touch fingers to forehead and open out)

This is the home of the flaming chalice that lights our way to truth. (cup hands thumbs out and hold up)

This is the home of the loving heart (fold hands over heart)

This is the home of the helping hands (hold hands out)

Together we care for our earth

And work for peace in our world. (join hands amongst the group)

 

Or, for older kids:

In the freedom of truth

and the love of justice

We bring all that we are

to shape what we yet can be.

 

 Check in

You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

  

Centering

Sing “I’ve Got Peace Like a River” (#100 in Singing the Living Tradition)

 

I’ve got peace like a river,

I’ve got peace like a river,

I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.

I’ve got peace like a river,

I’ve got peace like a river,

I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.

 

I’ve got joy like a fountain….

 

I’ve got love like an ocean….

 

 

See the here for the tune.

 

Introduction

We’ll spend this year looking at a variety of religions from around the world. But we begin this curriculum year with a ceremony created by UUs for UUs, and practiced by many UU churches as they gather together in the fall. Called water communion, or a gathering of the waters, this water ceremony celebrates the both the ways we go on our individual journeys, and the joy of coming together.

 

Activity

We begin by gathering our water. Traditionally, each person or family brings a bit of water from some place special to them, perhaps a place that they traveled to on vacation over the summer. The magic of water is that it comes from so many places, but it is really all the same water, which travels the world. We begin by collecting water from as many places as we can find immediately around us.

 

Give each child a water-proof container, such as a cup or yogurt container. Individually or as a group, roam your surroundings looking for all the places you can find water – this might include a kitchen, bathrooms, outdoor water spigots, potentially puddles outside, a water cooler or drinking fountain, etc. If this activity is taking place in a church setting, just make sure that your water hunt does not disturb others. Each person should return to the circle with some water in their container. 

 

Story

Every drop of water that we bring to our ceremony today has been on amazing adventures. Our water, this very water, has witnessed the birth of life and the death of dinosaurs, has been a part of the body of Buddha and Beyoncé, of raccoons and roosters and race car drivers. Each tiny molecule of water has been on its own unique journey, but today I need your help in telling the story of all water.

Most of our planet is covered by oceans, the cradle of life and water's true home. What does an ocean sound like?

Now, you can't hear it, but all of the time, every day, the sun shines on the ocean, and water evaporates; it rises into the air to become clouds. If we listened very carefully, with our tiniest inside ears, what sound do you think we would hear as the earth breathes water up into clouds?

(As you relate this paragraph, create the rain storm by rubbing fingertips together, then snapping fingers or clapping lightly, then clapping harder, up to drumming hands on thighs or stomping feet. As the rain abates, follow the process in reverse.) But eventually, the clouds fill up, and the water comes down again as rain. Imagine standing on a mountain, and it begins, very gently, to drizzle, then to rain, then to pour in a full-scale mountain thunderstorm! Then, slowly, the storm moves on, the rain gets gentler, and slows, and eventually stops.

The water that falls in the mountains runs into little downhill trickles. What might that sound like?

(As the story continues, people will probably understand to continue with the sound effects. If not, encourage them to do so.)

These little trickles gather into babbling brooks and streams.

The streams continue on their downward course, eventually
joining into rushing rivers.

As the quick rivers join into great rivers they become broader and slower.

And eventually, all water returns to the sea, the cradle of life, and water's true home.

Imagine for a moment that you are floating on a warm ocean, rocked by the source of life, one tiny drop in the great wave of life.

Ceremony

We’ve collected water from various places around where we are now, but we all have been in or around water in other places, some of them very special to us. Think for a moment about water that you have been in or around in the last couple of months. Remember what it felt like, looked like, smelled like. Each of us will have a turn to pour a bit of water into this large bowl, and say what special water we are honoring. (As leader, you may wish to model, e.g.: “I pour in water from Lake Tahoe, where we swam this summer on our camping trip.”) After each person pours in some water we are going to sing a chant, which goes like this: “The ocean refuses no river, no river.” (See the here for the tune.)

 

If you wish to honor more than one special source of water, that’s OK, but make sure that everyone has had a turn before you pour water to honor another source.

 

Activity

If there is time, invite the group to work together to build a courseway through which water can flow out of the recycled materials you have available. Encourage them to lay out materials in the format they will be used, and to figure out how items will be attached. This courseway will only be used briefly, so the materials used for building only need to be moderately water-resistant. When the structure is complete, pour your gathered water from the ceremony from the top of the courseway down into a bowl, to be collected. Make sure you protect your work surface with a plastic table cloth (or work outside), as the courseway is likely to leak! You may wish to do this activity outside.

 

Closing

Water can be divided into the tiniest drops, but it will always find its way downstream to join together again. May we, like water, always find our way together in unity, whatever may divide us.


Week Three – September 15th

Covenanting

 

Supplies Needed: Easel paper and marker, large sheet of paper (easel size or roll paper) with shape of stone tablets drawn on it, pencils, markers, crayons, large paper bag, variety of items for game (optional)

 

Opening Words

 

Love is the spirit of this church,

And service its law.

This is our great covenant:

To dwell together in peace,

To seek the truth in love,

And to help one another.

--James Vila Blake (#47 in Singing the Living Tradition)

 

Or

 

We are Unitarian Universalists (shape hands fingers up to form two “Us”)

This is the home of the open mind (touch fingers to forehead and open out)

This is the home of the flaming chalice that lights our way to truth. (cup hands thumbs out and hold up)

This is the home of the loving heart (fold hands over heart)

This is the home of the helping hands (hold hands out)

Together we care for our earth

And work for peace in our world. (join hands amongst the group)

 

Or, for older kids:

 

In the freedom of truth

and the love of justice

We bring all that we are

to shape what we yet can be.

 

or, light chalice and say

In the light of truth and the warmth of love,

We gather to seek and seek to share.

  

Check in

You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

 

Centering

We’ll begin by standing in a circle, with everyone holding hands. Imagine that there is an energy which connects us that flows from hand to hand, like electricity flowing through a wire. We’re going to feel that energy as a pulse from our left hand, and we’ll pass it on by squeezing the hand that’s in our right hand. Try to keep the energy pulse going around the circle by squeezing your right hand just after then person next to you squeezes your left hand.

 

Introduction

Before we get into exploring religions around the world, we begin with an idea that comes from the Jewish tradition – “covenant.” A covenant is a promise, and agreement between people, or in the case of this story, and agreement between people and God.

 

Story

Noah and the Rainbow Covenant

Perhaps you've heard the story of Noah and the flood, from Hebrew scripture, or the Bible. It goes something like this:

Did you ever make such a mess of your homework that you just got crazy mad and frustrated and wanted to crumple the whole thing up and throw it away? That's how God was feeling, looking around at the world. "You pour your heart and soul into making this wonderful world, full of people and animals and plants—and if you think it's easy, try getting the stripes on a zebra just right—all that effort and for what? A year or two or 1,500 go by, and the whole thing is a mess. People! What was I thinking? They're rotten to the core! They lie, they cheat, they murder, they steal—there's not a decent one in the whole bunch! Dang it all, I should just start over. Obliterate the whole mess and start from scratch. Yep, I think that's just what I'll do."

God took a good look around to make sure that there were not, in fact, any decent people about to be destroyed. And it turned out that God found one good, kind, clean-living family, the family of a man named Noah. And so God went to Noah and said: "This world is just plain no good, and I'm planning on getting rid of all of the people, except you and your family. So this is what you have to do: Build a really big boat, big enough for not only you and your family, but also a pair of every kind of animal there is. I'll give you time, but you better get on it, because I'm going to rain this whole place out, and anyone who isn't on that boat is going to drown."

I imagine Noah had a hard time believing his ears, but he gathered up his family and told them what he'd heard. They, no doubt, had a hard time believing Noah, but they trusted him, and so some of the family set about building the boat, called an ark, while others went and gathered up animals. Of course, everybody else thought Noah was just plain nuts for building this gi-normous boat and filling it with animals, but Noah and his family just kept right on working.

And eventually the rain came. It rained and rained and rained, like no rain you ever saw. It was as if the sky was full of millions of fire hydrants, all opened at once. And the water got higher and higher and covered the land, and the giant boat, full of animals and Noah's family, gently rose with the water. For days and days and nights and nights the rain went on until, finally, it just stopped.

The people ran to the windows of the ark and were astonished to see blue sky. And blue water. And nothing else. Just water and sky. There was nowhere to go and nothing to do, so they waited. And waited.

Finally, Noah sent a raven out to fly around and look for land, but it came back tired, for there was nowhere to rest. Noah waited a week. Then he sent out a dove to fly around and look for land, but it just came back tired, too. So he brought the dove back in, waited another week, and sent it out again. This time the dove came back with a twig from an olive tree in its beak—it had found land! Eventually the water backed off enough for Noah to see the ark had come to rest on the top of a mountain, and there was land around them. Maybe not dry land—wet and mushy land—but land, all the same. Finally, finally, the people and the animals were able to leave the crowded, smelly ark and touch the earth. They were all overcome with gladness, and Noah made an altar to thank God for bringing them to safety.

"Welcome home," said God. "I will make a deal with you, a promise—a covenant. My covenant is with all the beings of the earth, not just the people. You go forth and populate the earth and fill it again with all your kind. And I promise never to flood the earth again. And as a sign of my covenant with you I will put a rainbow in the clouds. And every time you see a rainbow it will remind you of our covenant to create and preserve life."

(from the UUA’s Tapestry of Faith program, session one of the curriculum “Love Connects Us” https://www.uua.org/re/tapestry/children/loveconnects/session1/161655.shtml)

 

Discussion

What makes a covenant different from a set of rules or a promise? (You may suggest that a covenant involves big ideas or high ideals, and that it is a two-way commitment, not just a rule or promise that goes one way.) Can you think of modern ways people make covenants? (Some possibilities might include marriage, joining an organization or club such as Scouts, playing in a band or on a team, joining the congregation, etc.) Have you ever made a covenant? Why might a covenant be important?

 

Game

We’re going to play a game based on the Noah story in which players make some covenants with each other—perhaps a rather odd covenant. Everyone will sit in a circle, and one person will be designated as the “dove.” Other players covenant to close their eyes and keep them shut while the dove flies out of the circle to find an item to bring back. (You may either have the dove just choose something in the room, or have a bag full of items for the dove to choose from.) The dove places the item they find in a paper bag, so that no one can see it. The dove then invites everyone to open their eyes to begin a guessing game. But first, the dove either says “I covenant to tell the truth,” or “I promise to tell nothing but lies.” Players then ask yes or no question to try to determine what sort of object the dove has brought back. If the dove has covenanted to tell the truth, s/he will always accurately answer yes or no to the questions. If the dove has promised to lie, s/he will always say no when the answer should be yes, and yes when the answer should be no. Both guessers and the dove must remember the dove’s covenant about truth or falsehood in order for the guessing to work. The person who correctly guesses the item becomes the next dove.

 

Discussion

Was it hard to remember if the dove was telling the truth or telling lies? What would happen if you didn’t know whether the dove was telling the truth or not? What would happen if players broke their covenant to keep their eyes closed while the dove found the item for guessing?

 

Activity

We’re going to be making our own covenant of how we will be together during our religious education time -- promises to each other about how people will be treated.  We’ll begin by brainstorm both “thou shalls,” things we can do to ensure that everyone is respected, hear and safe. We’ll also brainstorm “thou shall nots,” things we promise not to do, for the same purpose.  Remember that this is a brainstorm, so we’ll write down every suggestion. 

Now we’re going to decide on no more than five “thou shalls” and no more than five “thou shall nots” that we all can agree to.

(Once your covenant items have been agreed on, create a “tablet,” with one side for the ‘shalls’ and one side for the ‘shall nots.’  If there is time, the group can decorate it in any way they wish.  Ask everyone to sign the tablet when you are done as an agreement to follow the covenant. You may wish to hang the completed product on the wall, to remain there for the rest of the year.)

 

Game (alternative)

If you have extra time, you may wish to play the “ark animals” game:

This activity requires cooperation, compromise, and creative communication. Divide the group into pairs, and choose a pair to go first. (If you have an odd number of children, a leader can pair up with a child.) Instruct the pair of children that they will portray a pair of animals making their way to the ark. They must both portray the same kind of animal, and the group will guess what kind of animal they are. The trick is that before they proceed across the room as their animal they must decide jointly what the animal will be. And they must make that choice without talking, and use no more than two minutes to figure out what their joint animal will be.

When the game is complete, ask what techniques they found useful for coming to agreement without talking. Do you still need to listen even if no one is talking?

 (from https://www.uua.org/re/tapestry/children/loveconnects/session1/161646.shtml)

 

Closing

Read your covenant aloud together.


 Week Four – September 22nd  

Celebration—Autumn Equinox

 

 Supplies Needed: Apples, knife, cutting board, bowl, pan, water or apple juice, sugar or maple syrup, cinnamon, stove or microwave oven or hot plate, cups or bowls, spoons, length of thick rope


 Opening Words and Chalice Lighting

 May we find light not only in this flame, but also in the brilliant leaves, the shine of apples, the glow of the world around us.

 Or

 We are Unitarian Universalists (shape hands fingers up to form two “Us”)

This is the home of the open mind (touch fingers to forehead and open out)

This is the home of the flaming chalice that lights our way to truth. (cup hands thumbs out and hold up)

This is the home of the loving heart (fold hands over heart)

This is the home of the helping hands (hold hands out)

Together we care for our earth

And work for peace in our world. (join hands amongst the group)

 

Or, for older kids:

 

In the freedom of truth

and the love of justice

We bring all that we are

to shape what we yet can be.

 

or, light chalice and say

In the light of truth and the warmth of love,

We gather to seek and seek to share.

  

Check-in

You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

 

Centering:

Please close your eyes and let your body get still. Notice your breath as it enters and leaves your body. And in this stillness, imagine that you are a tree. Feel your roots deep in the ground, your strong trunk, your spreading branches, each little reaching twig, every busy, rustling leaf. Now bring your attention to just one leaf. Imagine that you are that leaf, hanging on by your tiny stem, moving in the wind, strong and green. But it is now fall, and your color is changing. Imagine that you are gradually pulling your energy inside yourself, leaving behind the green of summer, turning to gold and red and brown. As your energy moves toward the center of yourself your hold on the tree starts to loosen. Finally, gently, you let go into flying – let the wind carry you gently, turning, drifting, soaring, until, finally, softly, you come to rest on the earth. When you are ready, open your eyes and return to this room.

 

Introduction

We are just a couple of days past the autumn equinox, the point in the year when the daylight and the night are equal. In the Wiccan, or Pagan, tradition, it is not only a time of honoring balance, but also a celebration of the apple harvest, and of the cycle of life, which includes death and letting go, as well as life and birth.

 

Story

This story is adapted from a story by the ancient Greek writer Ovid.

 

The Three Apples

The old apple tree stood in the orchard with the other trees, and all summer long it had stretched out its branches wide to catch the rain and the sun to make its apples grow round and ripe. Now it was fall, and on the old apple tree were three great apples as yellow as gold, and larger than any other apples in the whole orchard. The apple tree stretched and reached as far as it could, until the branch on which the three gold apples grew hung over the orchard wall. There were the three great apples, waiting for some one to pick them, and as the wind blew through the leaves of the apple tree it seemed to sing:

"Here in the orchard are apples three,
Who uses one well shall a treasure see."

And one morning Jerod came down the lane that passed by the orchard wall. He looked longingly at the three gold apples, wishing, wishing that he might have one. Just then the wind sang its song again in the leaves of the apple tree and, plump, down to the ground, right at Jerod’s feet, fell one of the three gold apples.

He picked it up and turned it round and round in his hands. How sweet it smelled, and how round and juicy it was! Jerod could think of nothing so good to do with such a beautiful ripe apple as to eat it. He put it to his mouth and took a great bite of it, then another bite, and another. Delicious! Soon there was nothing left of the apple but the core, which Jerod threw away. He smacked his lips and went on his way, but the wind in the apple trees sang, sorrowfully, after him:

"Here in the orchard are apples two,
But gone is the treasure that fell for you."

And after a while Alyssa came down the lane that passed by the orchard wall. She looked up at the two beautiful gold apples that hung on the branch of the old apple tree, and she listened to the wind as it sang in the branches to her:

"Here in the orchard are apples two,
A treasure they hold for a child like you."

Then the wind blew harder and, plump, an apple fell in the lane right in front of Alyssa.

She picked it up joyfully. She had never seen so large and so golden an apple. She held it carefully in her clasped hands and thought what a pity it would be to eat it, because then it would be gone and its beauty would be lost.

"I will keep this gold apple always," Alyssa said, and she wrapped it up in the clean handkerchief that was in her pocket. Then Alyssa went home, and she gently tucked the gold apple that the old apple tree had given her, into a drawer, then closed the drawer tightly. The apple lay inside, in the dark, and all wrapped up, for many days, until it spoiled. And when Hilda next went down the lane and past the orchard, the wind in the apple tree sang to her:

"Only one apple where once there were two,
Gone is the treasure I gave to you."

Last of all, Derek went down the lane one fine fall morning when the sun was shining warm and the wind was out. There, hanging over the orchard wall, he saw just one great gold apple that seemed to him the most beautiful apple that he had ever seen. As he stood looking up at it, the wind in the apple tree sang to him, and it said:

"Round and gold on the apple tree,
A wonderful treasure, hanging, see!"

Then the wind blew harder, and down fell the last gold apple of the three into Derek’s waiting hands.

He held it a long time and looked at it as Jerod and Alyssa had, thinking how good it would be to eat, and how nice it would be to look at if he were to save it. Then he decided not to do either of these things. He went home and got a kitchen knife and cut the gold apple in half, straight across, exactly in the middle between the blossom and the stem.

Oh, the surprise that waited for Derek inside the apple! There was a star, and in each point of the star lay a small black seed. Derek carefully took out all the seeds and climbed over the orchard wall, holding them in his hand. The earth in the orchard was still soft, for the frost had not yet come. Derek made holes in the earth and in each hole he dropped an apple seed. Then he covered up the seeds and climbed back over the wall to eat his apple, and then go on his way.

But as Derek walked down the lane, the orchard wind followed him, singing to him from every tree and bush,

"A planted seed is a treasure won.
The work of the apple is now well done."


Discussion

Who in the story tried hardest to hold onto the apple? Who was readiest to let it go? Do you think that Derek was holding on, letting go or neither one? Derek was able to help new apples grow at the same time that he ate his one golden apple, which was then gone. Can you think of any ways that you’ve helped something new come out of something that was coming to an end?

 

Activity

Make applesauce. You can find a recipe that uses a crockpot here or one which cooks in the microwave here.

 

Game

Play Balance Tug-of-War. The goal of this game is not to pull the other side across a line, but to find a balance point which allows the people on both ends to lean as far back as they can without falling over. If you have multiple people, begin with two participants facing each other and finding their balance pulling on the rope. Then add on people at either end, adjusting the balance as you go. Adults can play as well – you’ll just have to have everyone adjust how far they lean back.

 

Closing Ritual

Serve up finished applesauce. A small amount in a bowl should cool fairly quickly. Ask everyone to sit in a circle, and to wait before they try the applesauce. Say something like: “We won’t be planting the actual seeds of the apples we are eating. But any new idea, any new start, any new change is a kind of a seed. Before we eat our apples I’d like to give everyone the chance to share any new seeds you’d like to plant in your life, or anything that you would like to let go of to make room for something else to grow.” (It will probably work best if you model something that could be a seed, and/or something you might want to let go.)

 

Closing

Share these words from the poet Mary Oliver:

 

To live in this world

you must be able

to do three things:

 

To love what is mortal;

To hold it

against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;

 

And, when the time comes to let it go,

to let it go.


 Week Five—September 29th

Wisdom of the World’s Religions

  

Supplies Needed: Ceramic bowl, or pot with wide opening; cut-apart wisdom slips (see below); blank slips of paper; pencils; copies of coloring sheet (see below) and crayons

 

Opening Words and Chalice Lighting

 

We light this flame to guide our search for truth, and to offer light to all who seek.

 

Or

 

We are Unitarian Universalists (shape hands fingers up to form two “Us”)

This is the home of the open mind (touch fingers to forehead and open out)

This is the home of the flaming chalice that lights our way to truth. (cup hands thumbs out and hold up)

This is the home of the loving heart (fold hands over heart)

This is the home of the helping hands (hold hands out)

Together we care for our earth

And work for peace in our world. (join hands amongst the group)

 

Or, for older kids:

 

In the freedom of truth

and the love of justice

We bring all that we are

to shape what we yet can be.

 

or, light chalice and say

In the light of truth and the warmth of love,

We gather to seek and seek to share.  

 

Check-in

You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

 

Centering:

In the center of our circle is a bowl. We’re going to have a time of silence, a time to empty our minds of all the little distracting thoughts that keep us from feeling peaceful. In our time of silence, any time that a thought comes into your head, just imagine that you are placing it in that bowl, where you can pick it up later if you need it.

 

Introduction

Since we’ll be talking about various religions of the world this year, it might make sense to start with the question, “Why?” Why should we learn about other religions, when we are Unitarian Universalists? One of the answers to that question is that the Sources section of our Principles and Purposes, which says where our UU tradition comes from, lists “Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life.” In other words, we can learn from various religions many important things about how to be better people and how to be more deeply connected with each other and the holy. Another way of saying that is that our UU faith both assumes that wisdom is all around us, and that we can learn from the wisdom of others. Nobody has all the truth locked up tight. Here’s a story from Africa about that view of wisdom: 

 

Story

Anansi and the Pot of Wisdom

An Ashanti story retold by Jessica York.

Anansi, the spider, loves to spin a tale! He can regale you for hours with stories full of wonder, stories full of fun, and stories full of facts, too. Because he is so nosy, Anansi knows almost everything about almost everybody. Almost.

But Anansi wants to know everything! So, one day, he goes to the house of the Sun God. "Oh, mighty Sun God! You see everything and everyone! Won't you share your great wisdom with me? I'll use it wisely to spin tales of wonder and fun for everyone."

The Sun God says, "Anansi, I will put all the wisdom in the world here in this clay pot. You must share this wisdom with everyone." Anansi promises to do so.

Anansi takes the pot home. He looks deep into the clay pot and sure enough, he sees sights he has never seen before. He hears sounds he did not know existed. "This is too good to give away. I will keep this great wisdom for myself," thinks Anansi. "I must hide it!" he says, and he looks around for a good hiding place.

Anansi decides to climb to the top of the tallest tree. There he will tie up the clay pot and the leafy branches will hide it. He starts climbing the tree, holding the pot in front of him. The climbing is hard! Have you ever climbed a tree while holding a pot? Anansi wishes he had nine limbs!

His youngest daughter is outside and sees what a hard time Anansi is having. "Father, it would be easier if you tied the pot to your back. Then all your limbs would be free for climbing."

Do you think Anansi is happy to get good advice from his daughter? Think again! "She is right—that would be easier! Why is it some young pup thinks of this when I who possess all the wisdom of the world did not?" Anansi gets so angry that he throws the pot to the ground.

All the wisdom of the world comes flowing out of the pot. Some falls here, some falls there. No one gets all the wisdom, but everyone gets some wisdom. This is why, even today, wisdom is everywhere. If you listen to the stories—stories spun from storytellers all around the world—you will hear it.

(from https://www.uua.org/re/tapestry/children/grace/session5/Anansi)

 

Discussion

Do you think it would be possible for anyone to gather up all the wisdom in the world? How do we know if something is a piece of wisdom, or if it’s just not true?

 

Activity

We’re going to play a game that involves matching up pieces of wisdom with the religions they come from. Everyone will take a slip of paper with a piece of wisdom, and another paper with the name of a religion. A player will read out the piece of wisdom on their slip of paper, and I will say the name of the religion that the wisdom comes from. Both the person who read the piece of wisdom and the person who is holding the slip of paper with the name of the religion I call out will run outside the circle and try to run back through the place where the other person was and into the center of the circle, trying to be the first one to drop their slip of paper into the pot. So if person A reads the piece of wisdom, and person B has the slip with the name of the religion that wisdom came from, both A and B would go outside the circle. A would come to the inside of the circle through where B was, and B would come in through where A was, both of them racing to be the first to drop their slip of paper in the pot. Every person will have a chance to read their piece of wisdom.


Wisdom Slips

(Leader should keep the entire copy, and cut up another copy so that each person has one piece of wisdom and the name of one religion. No one should have the religion that matches their piece of wisdom. For the leader’s purposes, the name of the religion follows the relevant piece of wisdom.)

 

God is both inside you and beyond you, and can be imagined in many different forms. 

Hindu

 

 

Suffering comes from being attached to how you think the world should be. 

Buddhist

 

 

Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God. 

Jewish

 

 

Love your neighbor as you love yourself. 

Christian

 

 

Nature is full of spirit. 

Shinto

 

 

Do not struggle, but flow with the natural order of life. 

Taoism

 

 

There is no god but God. 

Islam

 

 

Serve God by living a disciplined life. 

Sikh

 

 

Practice unlimited compassion toward all beings 

Jain

 

 

All humankind is one. 

Baha’i

 

 

Do as you wish, so long as you cause no harm 

Wicca

 

 

You don’t need to believe in God to be good. 

Humanist

 

Discussion

After all the slips have been played, gather back together and go through the wisdom slips one by one and discuss what participants think they might mean.

 

Activity

Unitarian Universalists draw from the wisdom of the world’s religions, but we are also free to discover the truth for ourselves. We are now going to create our own wisdom slips, with each of us writing down something that we believe is both important and true. (You may wish to play the game again with these slips and the names of the children who created them.)

 

Activity (if extra time)

Print out a copy of the coloring sheet at http://www.edupics.com/coloring-picture-world-religions-i11025.html for each person. Invite participants to color the sheet, and discuss which symbol belongs to which religion.

 

Closing

Have each participant read their wisdoms slip aloud