Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Day

From one of my favorite bands, one of my favorite Christmas Songs:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chalica in Review

I know I promised this last week, but life got busy and I came down with a horrible cold. I am slowly getting better and hope to be fully recovered by Christmas (at least I better be!).

I feel that our Chalica week went great. I had a couple of goals for it: 1. Have a greater appreciation and understanding of Unitarian Universalism 2. Encourage the kids (and us) to really start to think about our own spirituality and how that fits into UU. It was also important to me that it not be a gift getting holiday but one of giving of ourselves to others.

To me, these were goals were met. We centered our discussions around dinner time and I was impressed with where our conversations led. I could tell the kids were really processing what we were saying and how that effects our lives. If anything, next year I will work on having more open ended questions for us to think about as a family. I like the Spirit (Godly) Play model of wondering questions and probably will work off of those. I also want to be a little more creative in the 'helping others' aspect of it.

The kids really liked the ritual aspects. We lit one candle every night and I then did a reading. One night I had lit the candle, but was a little slow in getting to the reading. Youngest quickly reminded me to read "out of the book". I loved that they were seeing the importance of each step.

I say the following with all due respect to the hard work our religious education departments do. I have taught Sunday School for many, many years and am the RE Chair at our church. But, I feel UU continues to struggle on how to find a comprehensive and effective way to teach what it means to be a UU. This has more to do with the non-dogmatic approach to religion then any sort of lacking in RE departments. Thus, I feel it is VERY important for parents to talk about UU in the home. RE can only do so much. Children are looking to their parents for guidance and clarification. I felt Chalica really inspired great discussions in this area. It also demonstrated to our kids that Husband and I don't have it all figured out and that is ok. It is ok for them to feel out different paths until they find the one the speaks to them.

What would I like to change about Chalica? I am not 100% sold on the name, but I also don't have any better suggestions. I am also not so sure on the timing. With all the things going on in the holiday season, it is easy to brush it off as just "one more thing." I don't think it should be considered that and maybe a January time would be better. A great way to start the year off with a solid reflection on who we are and where we are going.

Finally, I would love for more UUs to be celebrating this. How awesome would it be to have all families have these wonderful discussion and renewing their commitment to UU? Can you imagine all the UUs out in the community at one time helping others? I hope that is the future and I will continue to work for it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chalica: Day 7

We light our chalice for respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

I read the following from Chief Seattle:

This we know. The earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth.
This we know. All things are connected like the blood that unites one family.
All things are connected...
We did not weave the web of life; we are merely one strand in it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.

It seems like UUs really like to cling to this principle. I feel like it is quoted so often in UU settings. But, it is true and I like just as much as all the other UUs out there. I have always felt this connection even as a child. The problem is, that it can also become so overwhelming. The thought that everything you do can have such huge impacts can be kind of scary. We discussed it as a family as showing respect for the environment and all the animals we share it with. The choices we make now can influence generations. That is why we reduce, reuse and recycle. It is also why we try to shop locally and conserve our energy use. As a way to honor our fellow creatures, we made dog biscuits to donate to our local Human Society. I used this recipe and got the chalice cookie cutter from here. Daisydog tested them and they passed muster!

Even though youngest is taste-testing them, they are actually for the dogs!

Tomorrow I will write a little more about the week as a whole and how I feel Chalica went.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chalica: Day 6

We light our chalice for the goal of world peace, liberty and justice for all.

I read the following by Edward Everett Hale:

I am only one
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

We talked about how lucky our family was that we live in relative peace. Yes, we are at war with various countries, but when I wake up, I don't worry about a bomb hidden under a car. We talked about how hard it is to achieve peace, but how important it is to keep trying - no matter how small the effort. You can make a difference, even if you feel like everything you do goes nowhere. It was an interesting discussion brought home by some "un"peaceful moments this morning. We talked about ways we could work towards peace. One way we are helping is supporting the UUSC. Husband and I both volunteer for the organization. I have met several of the staff members and have personally seen some of the amazing work they do. Each family member then donated some of their own money to our GAYT box.



As another activity, we colored and "stained-glassed" our peace pictures from the Chalica kids booklet. Now our house has a visual reminder to always look for the peaceful way (even if it isn't the easiest way).

Friday, December 10, 2010

Chalica: Day 5

We light our chalice for the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.

I read the following from Kathleen McTigue:

May the light around us guide our footsteps,
and hold us fast to the best and most righteous that we seek.

May the darkeness around us nurture our dreams,
and give us rest so that we may give ourselves to the work of the world.

Let us seek to remember the wholeness of our lives,
the weaving of light and shadow in this great and astonishing dance in which we move.

I particularly enjoyed this subject as it relates to so many aspects of our lives. We talked about what it really means to be a democratic society and how that compares to those countries that are not. We also talked about how UU congregations are somewhat unique in that they are based on the democratic process of the congregations. Thus, UU churches can very widely from place to place. I stressed how important it is to get involved in our congregation because it is what we make it to be. (I am going to have a whole other post on this topic after Chalica). At first I thought we would use Chalica's idea of writing letters to our government or congregation, but we ran out of time. Friday is our pj and movie night - we are very devoted to it! Instead, we went around the table and talked about what we would advocate for. L said he would ask the RE Committee to make Sunday School the whole hour instead of first starting in the church. J is going to ask the Governor to decrease the amount of days kids have to go to school. M will write the city and ask them to put a farm closer to our house. Husband is going to ask the Congress to pass new tax laws while I am going to continue the fight for true universal health care.

I found this to be a great principle for today considering it is the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What an amazing world it would be if every country adopted these basic human rights!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chalica: Day 4

We light our chalice for a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

I read the following from Kathy Huff:

In this quest, may we greet one another with open hearts and minds;
may we inspire each other to consider new questions and seek deeper meaning;
may we cultivate wisdom and compassion.
Let all who enter this sanctuary see a welcome face,
hear a kind word, and
find comfort in this community.
And may all that is done and said here today be in service to love and justice.

This topic lead to really interesting discussion about what is "truth". I guess it is important for me to impress upon the kids that one person's truth is not the same as others. For instance, some people believe in the miracle of Jesus' birth and Resurrection. Others don't. It is important for us to really examine what our truth is, but fully acknowledge and respect other people's truth. A part of me feels that we may be stressing the kids beliefs. I can tell that now that they are older, they are really beginning to think about what is told to them in school and what they really do believe. I have no idea where their spiritual path will take them, but as long as they are open to possibilities, I am happy with that.

Tonight we went to the pre-school/kindergarten pageant. We honored the Lutheran tradition of the miracle of Jesus' birth. Plus, who can pass up 4 & 5 year olds singing their little hearts out!

To educate ourselves more on our traditions, Husband read the book "Unitarian Universalism is a Really Long Name" by Jennifer Dant to the kids at bedtime.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chalica: Day 3

Lighting our chalice for the acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.

I read the following by Michael A. Schuler:

Cherish your doubts, for doubt is the servant of truth.
Question your convictions, for beliefs too tightly held strangle the mind and its natural wisdom.
Suspect all certitudes, for the world whirls on - nothing abides.
Yet in our inner rooms full of doubt, inquiry and suspicion, let a corner be reserved for trust.
For without trust there is no space for communities to gather or for friendship to be forged.
Indeed, this is the small corner where we connect - and reconnect-with each other.

This principle lead to a pretty in depth discussion of different religions and how people come to Unitarian Universalism. We had a really good talk on what it means to be Christian, Lutheran, and Unitarian Universalist. The kids attend a Lutheran school, but we go to the UU church. I could tell they were trying to put it all together. We talked about how people come to UU from all different faith traditions and how UU can compliment those or replace them. The one thing that holds us together though is our principles and that is why we are spending the week really "living" them. What also keeps us together is our commitment to each other and our support for eachother's continual search for truth.

I had originally really wanted to attend a UU event, but after scouring the calendars of all four UU congregations in the area, there was nothing going on for the whole family. Instead, we went to the Lutheran church's Advent service. It was lovely. Since it is also the Advent season, I am glad that we went. It was another affirmation to the kids that they can still feel connected Lutheranism while also being UU.

Since I still wanted to do something to support the spiritual development within UU, we are donating a new hymnal to our church. They currently are using the grey hymnal, but don't have enough of the teal ones to keep out in the pews. I love the songs in the teal hymnal, so that is what we are giving to them. We will present it as soon as it arrives!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chalica: Day 2

We light our chalice for justice, equity and compassion in human relations.

I read the following from Lauralyn Bellamy:

If, here, you have found freedom,
take it with you into the world.

If you have found comfort,
go and share it with others.

If you have dreamed dreams,
help one another,
they they may come true!

If you have known love,
give some back
to a bruised and hurting world.

Go in peace.

We had a wonderful discussion on what compassion and justice mean. We talked about past and current examples of injustice and what we was or can be done to stop them. We also gave examples of how we felt when things weren't fair in our own lives and how we would try to remember those feelings when we saw it happen to other people.

We talked about how the holiday season can be very hard for many people, especially children from broken homes. We talked about how lucky we are to have so much and they maybe we could show compassion to children who may not have a chance for a wonderful holiday. The kids then each went through their toys and pulled out ones to donate to our local Children's Home Society. I will admit that there was some reluctance from one of the kids :-), but now they are really working together to clean-up and give away some of their toys!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chalica: Day 1

We light our chalice for the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

We used those words from Chalica to light our chalice. I really like her phrasing, so you will see them under each of the candles this week. After lighting the chalice, I read the following words from Jean M. Rowe:

We have a calling in this world:
we are called to honor diversity,
to respect differences with dignity,
and to challenge those who forbid it.
We are people of a wide path.
Let us be wide in affection
and go our way in peace.

My original plan had been to follow Chalica's idea of writing thank-you cards celebrating our differences. Unfortunately, life didn't allow us that much time. Since we were at the dinner table, I had each family member think of a person who really bothers them. We then went around and shared what it was. They were not allowed to use the name of the person, just what actions that person said or did that they didn't like or agree with. After we each shared them, we discussed why they might be like that. Perhaps, they thought they were being helpful or their parents taught them differently or they were under a lot of stress. I then had everyone say something positive about the person they didn't get along with. My examples were: "this person bothers me because she gossips a lot and I don't like that." My positive was, "this person also has a huge heart and would do anything for someone in need." It was great to see the kids really think about their person and find something truly positive in them. We also turned the table on ourselves and thought, maybe, just maybe, someone thought WE were different, too.

My hope was that the kids (and adults) would realize that even though someone is different and we may not understand them, they are just as important as we are. They have just as much right to their opinions as we do. It was a very good discussion and I could tell everyone at the table had a moment of understanding for their "different" person. I hope that this translates into better acceptance of those who may not see the world as we do.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chalica Chalice


I really wanted to have a special Chalice to celebrate Chalica. I would love to have the one on the Chalica site, but unfortunately it was a little too expensive for this year and it wouldn't have arrived in time. So, I made my own version. The picture is horrible, but looks a little nicer when you click on it. The holders are from Michael's and the candles from a Hallmark store. I think it turned out quite nice and was pretty cheap to make. The kids love it and can't wait to light the red candle on Monday.

I also wanted to make sure you Facebook users know that there is an excellent Chalica page full of resources. So check it out!

Girl Scout Frustration

For once, this is not about Council. Last night I was supposed to have a GS meeting. I prepared for a couple days, mapped out plans for the next few weeks, got the newsletter together, made copies to help get my Cadettes going, got the supplies together, made yummy s'more granola bars and sent out an email reminding families that we were meeting. I even emailed a blog friend looking for suggestions on how to make the troop work better (thank you Bridgett for your quick response!!). On top of that, I have sent out a couple of requests looking for a Cookie Chair. The last training meeting is this upcoming week. So how many girls showed up last night? One. How many people have volunteered to be the Cookie Chair? Zero. How many called or emailed to say they weren't coming? Zero. I am just so frustrated and disappointed. I volunteer to do this because my daughter enjoys it. I like working with the girls. I am not paid and pretty much front all the money until we sell cookies. I would think people could at least let me know that they are not coming. It just seems like good manners. I truly feel parents lead by example and if they are not supportive a Girl Scouts, then why should the daughter? I totally understand not being able to make every meeting. What I don't understand is not having the grace to call and let me know you will not be there. One of the people who didn't show was my CO-LEADER!! Not only that, no one will volunteer to be the Cookie Chair. We are a small troop. Honestly, we don't sell a lot. The job is pretty easy. It is a GS rule that as leader, I can not do it. I sent out an email saying if we don't sell cookies, I am going to have to charge troop dues and have the girls pay for their own badges - which I don't want to have to do at all. I had a horrible experience a few years ago dealing with this and I refuse to pay for them again. I don't know, part of me thinks I just expect way to much of people, but seriously - couldn't they just call and let me know? Alright, I am done ranting.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Connecting

In an effort to feel more connected to Unitarian Universalism, we are going to celebrate Chalica this year. At first I thought it seemed a little hokey, but I am going to give it a try this year and see how it goes. This Chalica blog really lays out a thoughtful and meaningful way to celebrate the week. I am kind of excited for it and hope it helps the family understand the history and meaning of what it is to be a Unitarian Universalist. I will try to blog about it next week and all the activities we do to celebrate!