RE Newsletter 6-4-20 with Anti-Racist Parenting Resources

In the waves of disheartening news over the past week following the murder of George Floyd and countless others, it was a relief to be inspired by a Facebook post by a friend back home the other day. Her daughter is six months old, and my friend is already teaching her about racism and racial justice. She posted a photo of the baby in her highchair, smiling at two photographs – one of a black baby her age, and one of a white baby. She posted about how they discussed that both babies are smart and beautiful, how they took the time to point out what was the same and different. The conversations really can start that early and that gently, even though the topic is anything but gentle.

In this newsletter you will find our regular Zoom links and some updates, as well as some anti-racist resources that you and your children can explore together. Especially significant is the webinar being hosted by Fourth Universalist in New York on Thursday evening, June 4th on the topic of anti-racist parenting. I will be attending, and if you would be interested in a parenting circle to keep the conversation going, please let me know as soon as possible and we can start as early as next week. Until then, be sure to note the time change for our RE offering and details for picking up your family’s seedlings this Saturday below.

It can be easy to fall into hopelessness as we consider the enormous plague of injustice in our country. However, we have the greatest reasons to hope snuggled into our chests and driving us up the walls as we continue to parent through quarantine. Our children, the future leaders of the Universe, may be growing up in times that fall short of our ideals, but knowing them, they have no intentions of leaving things the way they are. May we continue to forge the path to a fair and peaceful world so that when they are ready to take over, they will be well-prepared by our example.


Online Resources:
Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup

Anti-Racist resouces scaffolded by phases of white identity

10 Children’s Books About Racism And Activism To Help Parents Educate Their Kids

A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory (YouTube)

Not My Idea – A Book About Whiteness (YouTube)

Something Happened In Our Town – A Child’s Story of Racial Injustice (YouTube)

Events:
Thursday 6-4-20 at 7:15 PM
“How to Be an Anti-Racist Parent,” an expert panel presented by Fourth Universalist (Zoom link)

Saturday 6-6-20 at 10:00 AM
CNN and ‘Sesame Street’ to host a town hall addressing racism


nottooyounghow to be an antiracist parent


Story-Based Online RE Lesson – “Because Amelia Smiled”

Chalice Lighting

Joys & Concerns Check In

StoryBecause Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein

Discussion

  • What did you like about the story?
  • What if we told that story about what’s going on now?
  • What do you think it would look like if the story started, “Because everyone stayed home…?”

Activity

Let’s make our own story. I’m going to start it, and then call on each of you to add a little bit. I’ll type as we go so we can share it with others when we’re done.

Prompts:

  • Because I had a question, I had to call….
  • Because my socks were inside out…
  • Because the cat liked to listen to jazz music…

Optional:

  • Read stories back to group
  • Ask group to illustrate story and send you pictures to be assembled into a book

Wrap Up

  • Announcements
  • Ask kids & parents for feedback about timing/structure/etc

Chalice Extinguishing

  • Optional – kids’ “coffee hour” free time

Story-Based Online RE Lesson Plan – “Wilma Jean the Worry Machine”

Chalice Lighting

Check In

  • How are you doing?
  • What’s one awesome or interesting thing you’ve done or learned since social distancing?

Story

  • Wilma Jean the Worry Machine

Follow Up & Activity

  • What is something you’re worried about?
  • Write down each worry on a post-it, stick to a window, board, or piece of paper. Then, put up line like in the story and ask kids to work together to see which worries can and can’t be controlled.
  • Ask kids to go find a hat, like in the story
  • When they get back:
  • “Alright, friends, everyone put on your hats. If you have any worries you didn’t want to name, you can think them into your hat. Then, you can go tip them out outside, or into the toilet, or you can hold on to them if you think you might like them back later.
  • But I’m going to take all of these ones here and put them in my hat. My hat and I will hold on to them for you. If you want them back, you can just ask your parent to send me an email and I’ll give it back, sound good?”

Chalice Extinguishing

Virtual Lesson Plan for Ostara with COVID-19 Tie-In

Feel free to use or adapt this lesson plan with attribution. Email me at uuctdre2810@gmail.com with any questions or concerns.


CHALICE LIGHTING

CHECK IN

What is something good that happened this week?

What is something that you worried about?

STORY
Adapted from The Ostara Bunny by Rev. Christina Leone

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago… There was a Goddess. Her name was Ostara, or Eostre. Do you have any ideas what she might have been the Goddess of? What about words that are kind of similar to her name? (Easter)

She was the Goddess of springtime. What happens in springtime? (Flowers bloom, it gets warmer, new things are born, the world ‘wakes up’ from winter.)

This Goddess gave birth to the sun, and helped it shine brighter every day in the sky. She was the bringer of warmth, and color. Her festival day is the Spring Equinox (which happened this past Thursday,) and celebrates new life and springtime.

And one day, while she was going about her very important business, a little girl came to her. The little girl had found a small bird on the ground. The ground was still very cold, because spring was not quite there… Ostara hadn’t finished her work yet. The little bird was injured, and very cold… The little bird was dying.

“Please!” the little girl pleaded with the goddess Ostara. “Please save this little bird.” The goddess was annoyed. “Can’t you see that I’m busy here?” But the girl was persistent. “Please, it won’t take much. Just help bring the bird back to life!”

The Goddess was so moved by the little girl’s pleas that she agreed to help the bird However, the bird was too weak and broken to be fully fixed. The Goddess knew that something would have to change for the bird to survive. She carefully considered what to do, and decided to turn the bird into a different animal instead.

What kind of animal do you think she decided on?

What kind of animal would you choose?

Well, in this story, she decided to turn the bird into a rabbit. She was stronger than ever, and could hop a long way, and had a big fluffy coat that could keep her warm, instead of light little feathers like before. So, happily, the bird-bunny hopped away.

But because the bunny used to be a bird, there was something a little different about her. She had big, floppy ears like a bunny and hopped like a bunny, but she still laid eggs like a bird. And every springtime, the bunny remembers how the Goddess helped her. So, to say thank you, she lays colorful, beautiful eggs to honor the colors of springtime that Ostara brings. It brings those eggs to the children to honor the child who saved her life.

FOLLOW UP:

So, I have a couple things for you to think about.

First of all, just like any story from any religion, we don’t know if the Ostara story really happened, or if it happened this way, right? But what do we know about stories like this?

We do know they probably come from something that has some truth to it. It might be just a tiny little nugget of truth, but there’s probably something in that story that was inspired by something that really happened.

What do you think might be a nugget of truth here?

I think the part of the story I want to focus on is where the little girl asked the Goddess for help and convinced her to do something about the bird that was hurt, because someone asking someone else for help seems pretty realistic to me.

So, here’s my big question: how can we make this story relevant to right now?

Take responses

So, what’s going on in the world right now?

Coronavirus, social distancing, etc.

Right! So, you all are the kids in this story. The little girl in the story made a big difference, right? If she didn’t ask the Goddess to help, the little bird probably wouldn’t have healed, and then we wouldn’t have the colorful eggs and other celebrations that the bird inspired after they were turned into a rabbit, right?

And before this happened, nobody had even heard of an Ostara bunny that laid brightly colored eggs! So, maybe right now, while we’re all being great helpers and keeping each other safe by staying home and washing our hands, we’re also doing something really big and important, like bringing spring or creating something new and awesome.

Maybe we’re all making way for something like a bunny that brings bright eggs, without even realizing it? I think that’s the truth in this story – that we can create something amazing, even when things are unsure or kind of scary, like finding a sick little bird.

Discussion

ACTIVITY – SHOW AND TELL

So, the Goddess Eostre turned the bird into a bunny, so we’re going to turn into birds and bunnies, too.

Can you hop like a bunny? Or if hopping isn’t possible for you, can you twitch your nose and give yourself bunny ears?

I want you to hop around wherever you are – carefully!- and find something that makes you feel brave or safe to share with the group. It can be a blanket or a pet or anything you’d like. I’m going to go get mine too, and we’ll all meet back here in just a minute.

Show and tell.

Awesome! Now, fly like a bird to put your special thing back where it goes, and when you get back we’ll do our chalice extinguishing.

ANNOUNCEMENTS/CLOSING/CHALICE EXTINGUISHING

A Message to the Children & Youth of UUCT Regarding COVID-19 Closures

UU congregations and religious professionals are welcome and encouraged to use or adapt this video and/or script however they see fit. Feel free to email me at uuctdre2810@gmail.com with any questions or concerns.



Hey friends!

I’m Helen. I’m the Director of Religious Exploration at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tallahassee. My pronouns are she/her/hers, and I have some news to share with you about what’s going on at church right now.

So first, we’re going to light our chalice, just like we do in RE class. I’m going to put the words on the screen, and you can say them with me if you want to.

Love is the spirit of this congregation
And service is its ministry
This is our great covenant:
To dwell together in peace
To seek the truth in love
And to help one another.

Ok, now let’s all take a big breath together. Can you do that?

Big breath.

That was really good. Let’s practice again. This time, we’re going to breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, and breathe out for four counts. If that’s too long for you, you can go at your own pace.

Few rounds of square breathing.

Good job. That always helps me feel grounded when there’s a lot going on.

Some of you have probably heard that there’s a lot going on right now.

There’s an illness going around called COVID-19, or Coronavirus. It can make people sick and it’s contagious, which means it spreads quickly.

Because this illness is going around and can spread so quickly, we’ve made the decision to close church for a while, so there will be no church or RE in-person for a while. It was not an easy decision, but it was the right one, and I’d like to tell you why.

Even though this is different and maybe even a little bit scary, it is a really amazing opportunity to practice our UU values.

We’re going to talk specifically about our first and seventh principles:

We respect the inherent worth and dignity of all beings.
Each person is important

Respect for the interdependent web of existence of which we are all a part
We care for Earth’s lifeboat

When we say each person is important, we also mean that everyone deserves to be safe and have what they need. Everyone deserves to have that, no matter who they are, where they’re from, what they believe, or where they are on their journey.

This illness can affect anyone, but it’s most likely to seriously impact people who are older or already have medical conditions. So even though some of us who are younger and healthier aren’t likely to get seriously sick, our friends who are more likely to get seriously sick deserve to be as safe as possible.

That means that all of us, even those of us who are less likely to get sick, need to be very careful about washing our hands and spending as much time as we can away from public and crowds. And I know that’s hard and not really fun. It isn’t necessarily because we’re worried about getting sick ourselves, but because we want to decrease the chances of carrying the illness to someone who could get very sick. Those people deserve to be safe and well, and it’s up to us to remember that each person is important, and honoring that right now means that we have to change the way we do some things.

And that brings us to our seventh principle.

Because we live in an interdependent web of existence, (interdependent means we all depend on each other)  it is up to all of us to do what we can to make sure our vulnerable friends are safe. We all have to do our part to hold the web together, and each and every part matters. We all depend on one another every day, and this situation is a big reminder of that.

And I know that isn’t necessarily fair. All of the adults in your life – your parents and caregivers, your teachers, your RE guides, your church staff, and beyond – recognize that asking you all to change your routines and sit in the uncertainty of this is not fair and not fun for you. It’s ok to feel like that, or to feel worried or even angry. We understand, and we’re going to love and support you as we all do our parts to help our communities.

Remember what Mr. Rogers said about when he saw scary things happening when he was younger:

“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”
Fred Rogers

We all have a chance to be the helpers now, and your grownups are going to keep helping you, too.

We’re going to do RE online at UUCT until church is open again. This will include as much of our regular routine as possible – we’ll do our chalice lighting, chime, and do a joys and concerns check in, because I want to hear your joys and concerns. We’ll be doing this and an online story time this Sunday afternoon, and I’ll be sending your parents and caregivers a newsletter with some at-home RE activities for you all to try together.

This is how we’re going to start, and I’m going to send some more updates soon. In the meantime, your parents and caregivers all have my cell phone number and email address. They are welcome to email or text me at any time, and with their permission, kids and youth can email me as long as a parent or caregiver is copied on the email.

So let’s try some big breaths again. I’m going to count while you breathe.

Few rounds of square breathing.

You did great, and I’m so proud of you. I can’t wait to see all of your little faces on my computer screen on Sunday afternoon for RE, and I’m looking forward to when we can all be together in person again.

We’re going to do our chalice extinguishing now. The words are on your screen. They come from one of my favorite spiritual practices, Kundalini yoga, and were originally written by an Irish band.

May the longtime sun shine upon you
All love surround you
And the pure light within you
Guide your way on

Blessed be, amen, shalom, and may it be so. I’ll talk to you all soon.

In Joy and Adventure,
Helen

Affirmations to Our Inner Children

On Sunday, February 16, 2020, I asked the congregation of UUCT to write down a message they wish they had heard when they were younger. These affirmations to our inner children were written on small wooden hearts, which were then assembled into a chain that will be placed in our new Religious Exploration classroom, so we can surround our children with the kinds of messages we needed when we were children.

Sometimes, the massive amount of injustice and pain in this world seems beyond daunting – it seems impossible to even fully comprehend, let alone begin to heal. But I get to see firsthand in my job that we are already healing, that love is already winning, because it is alive and well in the beautiful and brilliant children and youth I get to serve. They are living proof that the Beloved Community is achievable, and they are made so by the love of their families and communities. The generations growing up surrounded by these messages are the ones who will continue to change the world.

We are doing such good work.


  1. Ever lasting love
  2. You are great
  3. Never forget me
  4. Love yourself
  5. What I believe is ok
  6. You are ok just the way you are
  7. It is ok to cry
  8. Your creativity will take you far
  9. Love yourself, see your beauty, you are beautiful
  10. You are lovable
  11. Express what you are feeling
  12. You got this
  13. You can handle this
  14. U R awesome
  15. You can rest
  16. Keep trying
  17. You are light. Love you now.
  18. You will improve the world
  19. Thank you for helping. I love you.
  20. Go where you are celebrated
  21. You are who you are. You are enough.
  22. You are loved and you are worthy of love
  23. Love one another
  24. I am worthy
  25. You are loved
  26. I love your sense of wonder and exploration
  27. Love
  28. You are loved
  29. Acceptance
  30. Listen to inside. Expand your embrace.
  31. Hugs
  32. I ❤ U
  33. I care for you
  34. You are good enough
  35. You are great. Love you.
  36. Understand
  37. It’s ok to not know everything
  38. Jesus loves
  39. I love you
  40. It’s ok not to be perfect
  41. You are loved
  42. You are loved
  43. You can’t love anyone until you love yourself
  44. I love you
  45. It’s ok
  46. I am lovable
  47. I’m glad you are here
  48. You are awesome
  49. Love – “Love!”
  50. You are great
  51. I do love myself
  52. You got this!
  53. You are loved
  54. Everyone is smart in their own way
  55. Speak your heart
  56. I love your hair
  57. You are special to me
  58. What a fine job
  59. You are lovable
  60. You are awesome
  61. How you feel matters
  62. Forgive yourself
  63. UR Loved
  64. You are important to me
  65. You are very special
  66. You are perfect the way you are
  67. Be free
  68. You are NOT “too much”
  69. Loved.
  70. Aspire to love
  71. You are special
  72. Good luck!
  73. Today, I believe in myself
  74. Love!
  75. You are already doing it!
  76. You’re loved.
  77. Don’t hide your light
  78. You are loved
  79. You can do it!
  80. Glorious you!
  81. You are special
  82. I am so proud of you!
  83. What a great job!
  84. You are beautiful.
  85. Be proud of you
  86. The world is better with you in it!
  87. Your inherent worth and dignity are inarguable and unconditional
  88. Ask for help
  89. You are important

What is Unitarian Universalism Anyway?
The Inherent Worth and Dignity of Donald Trump
Flower Communion Compassion Meditation
“Love is the Spirit”
Enough

IMG_4853

Set Sail on the Ally-Ship

Set Sail on the Ally Ship
A Time for All Ages
Written by Helen Rose
Delivered at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tallahassee
Sunday, July 14, 2019

This is an original piece by Helen Rose. Feel free to use for worship with proper credit given to the author. Email Helen with any questions.


  • Invite young and young at heart to join leader up front.
  • We’re talking about allyship today – who knows what an ally is?
    • Pause for response
  • Awesome! Now, who knows what a ship is?
    • Pause for respone
  • So, when we put those two things together, and we get…
  • Ally-ship!
  • I need y’all to help me with something – we’re going to row the allyship.
    • Invite participants to sit in two rows and face the leader
  • Let’s all sit like we’re in a little boat. Everybody settled? Does anyone get seasick? Do we all have our lifejackets on? Awesome. Let’s start rowing. Grownups, you can help us row too.
  • So, while we’re rowing this boat, we all have to work together, right?
  • What happens if someone stops rowing?
    • Pause for response
  • Oh, so we need everyone to work together to keep the boat moving, right?
  • Now, what happens if someone makes a mistake? Should we kick them off the allyship?
  • No! That’s right. We need everyone, so if someone makes a mistake, what should we do?
  • Yeah, we need everyone to work together, so we should help our teammates learn how to do better if they make a mistake.
  • One more question: What if you’re the one who makes a mistake?
    • Pause for response
  • We don’t really like to think about that, do we? Well, if we make a mistake, we should try to learn from it, right? That way, we can do better next time, and maybe help someone else if they make a mistake later. And then we can all keep rowing together and the allyship keeps going.
  • You guys are so awesome! Thank you for helping me. Let’s row back to our seats!