“The Church Has Left the Building”

I like to joke that I moved to Florida to get out of serving on the Board of Trustees at my home congregation in Tennessee.

It isn’t entirely true. What is true is that I had just been elected to the Board when I got an opportunity to move to Florida to serve a congregation here as DRE. What is true is that it wasn’t quite official and I didn’t plan to talk about it at the Board dinner party I attended last June, but that went promptly out the window when one of my friends leaned over as we made our plates and whispered, “I heard you have quiet good news.”

I couldn’t help but share my no-longer-quiet good news, and in minutes the fact that my child and I would soon be moving nearly 500 miles away hung in the air like a bittersweet perfume.

What is also true is that night I heard my minister do a truly hilarious valley girl impression, that I didn’t have to be on guard about being a non-drinker, that I won a round of a teambuilding game where we had to avoid eye contact; I’m still learning to hold someone’s gaze without fear of them really seeing me. And around the time we were getting ready to go, my child told me they wanted to stay at church. I started to correct them, to say that this was not church, this was the clubhouse in somebody’s neighborhood and that the church is across town – but I stopped. Because that night was church, because we were with our church people.

At the time that I moved last summer, my offer to serve my term remotely – attending meetings and voting via Zoom – seemed outlandish. Somehow, it seems so much less so now. That is definitely not to say I resent that my offer was shot down – I had no idea what I was in for moving here to take on solo parenting, college courses, and a new career without an established support system. I owe a great deal of my sanity to those gentle souls upon my path who help me step away when I am in danger of tripping over my own ambition.

However, as we enter our third month of online worship, online religious education, and online board meetings, connecting at such a distance seems anything but outlandish. It seems lifegiving, and so necessary.

Before I moved, I couldn’t fathom a time that I wouldn’t attend worship with my home congregation regularly. After, I planned my visits home specifically around Sunday mornings so that I could be with them. I have been known to solicit friends to Facetime me during the service on my rare Sundays off, and in ‘normal’ times, I count the days until I can be back home. It is home to me, in so many critical ways.

And I do not want it to reopen anytime soon, which was a shockingly simple position for me to take.

In this strange time, I struggle with the day-to-day. I struggle to wrap my mind around what doing my job online for a year might look like, what my first year of seminary will bring if I am simultaneously working from home and homeschooling my child. The next year or so seems very fuzzy and uncertain, but if I look a little further, the picture becomes more clear.

In a few years, or maybe more than a few, I will be ordained at my home church. I am estranged from my parents, so they will not be there. Due to the estrangement, I have only been able to maintain a relationship with one of my three brothers. Very few of my friendships survived my becoming the first parent in my friend group and then my move to Florida. My home congregation lost two founding members early this year, before COVID-19 even reached the US – two members of my church family who will not be at my ordination. To put it simply, while I know that to grieve loss is the price of loving, I cannot fathom anyone else missing that day because we rushed and chose to reopen too soon.

It feels selfish to put into words. This crisis isn’t remotely about me – and yet it is, because it is about all of us. It is about the profound and inescapable impact we have on one another, the interdependent web of existence that binds us to one another in the holy obligation to love our neighbors as ourselves.

I am not unique. We all have things we look forward to celebrating and sharing with our families and communities. We all have things that we are itching to do, a list of hugs to give and not-quite-essential errands to run as soon as it is safe to do so. The weight of loneliness and isolation can be soul-crushing, even if we are not technically alone.

And technically, we are never alone. My search for truth and meaning has brought me to the conclusion that we are all manifestations of the Divine, the Universe experiencing Herself through Human life. We are players on a cosmic stage and all of our roles intertwine. What impacts one of us impacts all of us – that is just especially apparent now.

So, for now, even though my eyes are strained from looking at screens, though I lie awake at night fighting every demon and trauma this plague has brought up for me, though some days I’m just not sure how I’ll get through another day of isolation without losing my goddamn mind – I would rather face this hardship now than face the loss of one more vital player on this stage because we couldn’t wait.

So, for now, church has left the building.

For now, church is my child imparting wisdom upon me a year before I was ready to receive it.

Church is Zoom. Church is Facebook posts, phone tag, and try again, you were on mute.

Church is baked goods made with love and stealthily placed in mailboxes and on front porches, it is sweary coloring books and no good reason to put on pants. It is the photos on my refrigerator and the rose quartz in my window, the photo from Pride last year that is still my desktop background, the chalice I light on screen for my RE class every week that was a see-you-later gift. It is the promise that the good things are coming, even when we cannot see them, don’t quite believe it, and aren’t quite sure if we want to.

Church is the people, caring for one another the best ways we know how and figuring it out together, at a distance, so that when we can be together in the flesh again, we are all there to celebrate it.

May it be so.

Manifestations of the Pandemic

Manifestations of the Pandemic
Helen Rose
Sunday, May 3, 2020


So, apparently there’s a pandemic going on. It’s a scary time. From what I can tell from a safe distance, everyone is handling it differently. I have friends who are living their best lives, friends who are struggling but adapting, friends who are suicidal, and everything in between. Every single one of those responses are equally valid. This experience is bringing out past traumas that maybe we thought we were past, it is honing in on our deepest fears and insecurities, it is perpetuating the illusion of separation that divides and depresses us.

If you’re not interested in exploring silver linings, this post isn’t for you – and that is ok. Sometimes things are just awful and no amount of silver linings or positivity can make it better, and you want to punch anyone who suggests anything different squarely in the jaw. That is also an incredibly valid response. (Except maybe don’t punch anybody because there’s definitely no way to maintain social distancing during that, and also because it’s mean.)

That said, this is something that is helping me get through this weird phase of life, though I don’t expect it will work for everyone. I’ve been trying to focus on gratitude where I can. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes I’m just depressed and mad and uninterested in exploring the deeper philosophical implications of an objectively shitty situation.

I was so pissed off a few months ago when my therapist suggested I start a gratitude journal. I’ve been in therapy for nine years. This seemed like such a basic and boring practice, and I was mad that she even suggested it. Between the office that looked like the beach section of a Bed, Bath, and Beyond, the fake crystal gemstones from Pier One, and the fact that she never actually listened to a word I said, it turned out that therapist and I just weren’t a good fit. (I still miss my no-bullshit therapist from Knoxville who once told me, “Really? You’re going to kill yourself over a shitty Thursday? Come on.”)

However, begrudgingly, I admit that developing a gratitude practice has helped.

Negativity bias is “our tendency not only to register negative stimuli more readily but also to dwell on these events. Also known as positive-negative asymmetry, this negativity bias means that we feel the sting of a rebuke more powerfully than we feel the joy of praise.” 

This is why we often have trouble focusing on ten things that went right when one thing went wrong. This is why I know exactly where the two errors are in my two-semester research project about religion and the patriarchy are and the facts that I got a perfect score and high praise from my instructor are an afterthought. It is so easy to dwell on what isn’t working, and it makes sense – if we know what isn’t working, we can try to fix it, and most of us are constantly striving to do better. But things don’t have to be perfect to be enough. This is a lesson I’m still learning.

Developing a practice of gratitude and acknowledging what is going right helps us counteract negativity bias and experience life in a more balanced way. It helps us focus our intentions on our highest good and raise our vibration to match those intentions. And it really does help.

So a few weeks ago, I started keeping a list of things that the pandemic has made possible. Let me be clear that none of them are worth it. None of them are more important or valuable than the lives that have been lost and impacted. And none of them needed a global emergency to come about – they were all already possible.

One of the greatest intentions I am setting for myself right now is to live life more gently and less dramatically, to embrace what comes naturally and navigate things that create chaos or tension gracefully. There is nothing gentle or graceful about how this pandemic has impacted the world. The best any of us can do is do our part to keep each other safe and make the most of what we can.

These are just a few of the things that have been manifested for me during this time.

  1. Time to pauseI have been begging the Universe for a break since my rapid awakening journey began in late 2018. Recently, a reiki practitioner referred to me as a “master manifester” – I told her that’s a really kind way to say, “I let the Universe fuck my shit up.” I mentioned earlier that I’m focusing my intentions on gentleness and grace right now. That’s because when I set my sights on something, I make it happen – often in ways that are somewhat reckless and energetically draining. This moment to pause is offering me opportunities that were not possible to reconcile with my obligations in fully-functioning society. I’m getting valuable quality time with my child. I am being supported in approaching my work manageably. I have precious time to rest, focus on healing and introspection, and be intentional with my thoughts and actions. It is a gift, even though the circumstances surrounding it are scary and overwhelming.
  2. Online church
    The week before schools and churches around the country shifted to online programming, I had an unexpected Sunday morning off because Henry was sick. While they were napping on the couch, I watched the service from my home church via FaceTime with one of my friends there, which had become a sort of infrequent tradition of ours since I moved 500 miles away last summer. While the Church of the Larger Fellowship has long offered regular online worship, there is just no substitute for worship with my beloved home community. Now, eight weeks later, I get to participate in virtual worship and coffee hour weekly, which is nourishing for my spirit in ways that are always essential, and now more than ever.
  3. $1200
    This one is one of those things that is so oddly specific that I have no choice but to stop believing in coincidences. Recently, I learned that an abusive family member destroyed $1200 in savings bonds purchased for me by my late great-grandmother. I wanted to be furious, and I was for a moment. And then I decided that if $1200 was the price I had to pay for them to leave me alone, it was worth it. Instead of succumbing to a justifiable rage, I decided that if I was meant to have that money, it would find its way to me. And it did. I received a $1200 gift from my great-grandmother in the form of a stimulus payment from the government. Of course, there’s no way she ever thought that I would receive it that way, but her intention was for me to have a monetary gift from her, and the Universe responded to her intention – more than a decade after she passed.
  4. Time in Knoxville
    I was determined to be in Knoxville for my best friend’s birthday in late March this year. However, between work and Henry’s school, the best I thought I could manage was coming in the week before – which was the week that things began getting very serious and remote work and school started to become our new normal. We ended up staying for nearly eight weeks, which meant that I got to be in my hometown for my birthday too, which I wanted but hadn’t even named because I didn’t think it would be possible. I also got time to connect with my Knoxville community in creative socially-distanced ways, like dropping off treats in mailboxes and sewing masks for some friends who are essential workers. It was about three weeks between the time I committed to moving to Tallahassee last summer and the day we left. The move has been challenging and empowering in countless ways, and I’m so glad we came – and I’m also thankful for a little extended time to appreciate my beautiful hometown, her quirky and wonderful inhabitants, and take in breathtaking mountain views at every turn (even just during a Target run.)

There are a dozen other little things as well. My seminary orientation has been moved online, which takes the huge burden of travelling and arranging childcare off me, at least for one semester. Running errands with my child has become so much easier with expanded curbside pickup options. I have an ongoing legitimate reason to shower loved ones with little “thinking of you” gifts and surprises. I got the chance to try out a haircut that I’ve been wanting but was too afraid to commit to.

The truth is, Spirit will always provide for us – we just have to trust it, even when it seems impossible. The manifestations of our needs rarely, if ever, look exactly the way we think they will or should. Even so, we can always trust that we are exactly where we are supposed to be, and the good things are coming. Often, the good things have already arrived. We just have to be willing to see them, and to be thankful for them no matter what form they take. It’s not always easy. I’m certainly not perfect in my own practice of radical gratitude, but it brings me so much peace to try and focus on what is good when I can.

I’m learning to trust the journey and that whatever happens is a part of the Divine plan. The specifics aren’t always too important – our journeys are magical and blessed no matter what form they take.


Posts linked in this entry:
Christianity-Informed Patriarchy in the United States as a System of Oppression
A Message to the Children & Youth of UUCT Regarding COVID-19 Closures
Making Dinner During the Pandemic
Enough

More Like This:
The Inherent Worth and Dignity of Donald Trump
Comfort Me (A Prayer)
Glory, Hallelujah and the Universal Manager

UU Lent 2020 – Part 2 – During the Pandemic

Read UU Lent 2020 Part 1 – Before the Pandemic Here

Day 17 – Doubt

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I woke up at 7:45 AM this morning with my mind racing. I worked most of the day and now find myself laying in bed at 11:35 PM with my mind still racing. There’s a lot of doubt going on right now. I certainly doubt that I did enough today, but I don’t doubt that I took this photo a few weeks ago because my racing mind tonight would need to hear that message.

“I am here. Godde is here. We are one.”

Everything really will be ok.
💙

Day 18 – Music

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“Everything’s already alright.”
💜

https://youtu.be/lkGBLLjAXEA

Day 19 – Resistance

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Day 20 – Change

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There’s so much going on right now, and some of it is scary and not fun, but finally having time to watch classic Disney movies with Henry is definitely a welcome change. ❤️

Day 21 – Wind

Image may contain: one or more people, sky and outdoor“Winds be still.
Storm clouds pass and silence come.
Peace grace this time with harmony.
Fly, bird of hope, and shine, light of love,
and in calm let all find tranquility.”
💙

Day 22 – Remorse

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The absolute best thing I’ve done for myself in the past few days was turn off my computer and phone for a full hour, during which time I tidied up, started dinner, and colored this picture of a unicorn riding a narwhal. No remorse. #selfcare

Day 23 – Freedom

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Almost a year ago, Henry told me they wanted to wear a dress. I took this photo about 30 minutes after they picked this one, the first one, out. As someone who really appreciates fashion and aesthetics, it broke my heart to realize they’d never felt pretty in or excited by their clothes before. May we all be free and empowered to do and be whatever makes us happy. 💜

Day 24 – Grace

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We all need grace right now. Grace to be silly. Grace to be loud. Grace to relax into humor if we need it. Grace to take a nap in the back yard and refuse to check email for a few hours.

Consider this a message from the Universe encouraging and empowering you to give yourself whatever grace you need right now. ❤️

Day 25 – Craft

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I was going to post a picture of a wire-wrapped crystal pendant I tried to make today, but it turns out wire wrapping is one craft I’m not actually good at. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Enjoy this photo of my hand-crafted stress cooking instead. 😅

Day 26 – Justice & Day 27 – Struggle

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I much prefer my office to my work-from-home setup. I much prefer having childcare and the freedom to go anywhere I want on a whim to being home with my kid all day. I much prefer giving hugs and high fives to my kids at church to offering RE through a computer screen.

This is uncomfortable for me right now, but I’m also making the world just a little safer for others. Justice isn’t a blissful utopia where we all live effortlessly in harmony. Justice functions better as a verb, like love. It takes work, and it takes consciously trading the comfort of privilege – the privilege of being white or able bodied or financially secure or, in this case, low-risk – for some struggle in the interest of the greater good.

Day 28 – Fire

No photo description available.

Handwashing
Social Distancing 

Smudging 

#coveringourbases

Day 29 – Trust, Day 30 – Inspiration, & Day 31 – Support, 

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Day 32 – Surrender

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There’s a brand new, unopened deck of oracle cards on my desk in Tallahassee called “The Wild Offering Oracle: A 52-Card Deck on Giving It All To God.”

God language aside, I’m not even sure why I bought it because “surrender” is barely in my vocabulary, much less my to do list, but I saw it and just had to have it.

I suppose, as per usual, my Higher Self knows better than my human self does, and They told me I absolutely needed to have those cards. So I guess they’ll be waiting for me whenever my aversion to surrender shifts, which I expect it will, because They have a way of making me face the things that make me cringe head-on.🤷🏼‍♀️

Day 33 – Love

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Day 34 – Reach

Image may contain: possible text that says 'And also are there any rules that say we, adults (apparently,) can't just have mashed potatoes and cupcakes for dinner? Because that's what I'm feeling Haha! We're adults, we make the rules now'

If you work hard and reach for the stars, you too can feel completely empowered to have mashed potatoes and cupcakes for dinner. #adulting #realtextsisenttoday

Day 35 – Rain

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No rain, no rainbows, no flowers.

I‘m choosing to believe there will be a breathtaking spring on the other side of all this. 💛

Day 36 – Confession

No photo description available.My grandpa makes me a palm cross every year on Palm Sunday. Every year I stick it in my windshield and it becomes a part of the mobile altar that is my car, complete with some crystals and cool sticks and the homemade smudge spray I keep in the center console.

It doesn’t have a spiritual significance to me, but it’s special because it comes from him, and I know the ritual of making them means a lot to him too. So I sent him a pack of 100 palms to fold today so he won’t miss out due to churches being closed.

Day 37 – Acceptance

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My whole coming out process revolved around my church. This was one of the best, most affirming days of my life so far. 🏳️‍🌈❤️🌈

Day 38 – Forgiveness

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, eyeglasses and closeupI’m trying to offer myself radical forgiveness over and over these days. Radical forgiveness for dishes left undone, emails left unanswered, patience worn thin, for holding myself to higher expectations than I would anyone else in my shoes, and for selfies that look like abstract art that no one really understands.

Day 39 – Awe

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I took this photo this morning. My grandmother’s azaleas bloomed this week, and they are gorgeous. 💛

Day 40 – Mercy

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I was hoping to stumble upon a quote or something to help me figure out what to write today, but the juxtaposition of COVID-19 alert to the definition was exactly what I needed to see.

We’re all at the mercy of one another right now. My loved ones are at the mercy of your loved ones, my child to your child, and vice versa. There is no amount of privilege, ability, or luck that can completely protect anyone from getting sick. There is no one that this doesn’t apply to. May we all choose to be merciful.

Day 41 – Cry

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Today I practiced self-care by opening the windows even though I didn’t have the motivation to go outside, feeding and watering my body, crying at an objectively crappy TV show, and participating in an online session with my therapist. How did you take care of yourself today?

#therapyiscool #selfcare #endmentalhealthstigma

Day 42 – Bloom

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Day 43 – Resilience

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Yesterday was rough. I yelled. We both cried. I felt the weight of what’s going on in the world and Henry felt the weight of having a caregiver who was overwhelmed. But today we made cookies. The recipe didn’t call for marshmallows, but Henry wanted to add them, so we did. And we listened to The Eagles and The Beatles and Elton John. We opened the windows and cleaned up a bit, and things seem calmer and easier. I think resilience is a lot like courage – not necessarily feeling very brave or totally better, but simply trying again. 💜

Day 44 – Transcend & Day 45 – Gratitude

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I’m grateful for even these tiny moments of awe for that which is greater than me, for the break in the clouds, for perspective, and for all of the wild and wonderful things that have happened since I stood in this spot gazing at the moon this time last year. The Universe always manages to provide in ways that transcend my wildest dreams.

Day 46 – Anticipation

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Day 47 – Rejoice

Last year, my birthday fell on Easter weekend. On Thursday, a part of me died in a very real and powerful way. On Friday and Saturday, I rested in the tender care of my beloved chosen family. I began tending to my wounds and celebrated new beginnings. On Sunday, I got to join my beloved community in celebrating all of the beautiful pieces we are of the collective whole. What followed those days can only be described as a brutal and rapid manifestation of my Divine purpose and Highest Good, which is still unfolding beautifully before me.

So have you heard the good news? The resurrection wasn’t a one-time thing. It wasn’t exclusive to one teacher who lived a long time ago. The Odyssey is a Christ story. Harry Potter is a Christ story. My story is a Christ story. The Christ story is a Human story. I do believe that Jesus was Divine – just no more Divine than anyone else. I believe he simply owned it. We are all Beloved children of the Universe, the Divine expressing themselves in Human form. We all have the power and ability to be reborn, to begin again, to own our Divine right to a life we love. We are all capable of such, and we are all worthy. And that is cause for rejoicing.

UU Lent 2020 Part 1 – Before the Pandemic

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2-26–2020: I’m going to try to do #UULent this year. And I’m also going to be kind to myself if I get a week into it and decide to give up UU Lent for Lent.

4-11-2020: I did it!

Day 1 – Prayer

Image may contain: one or more peopleI honestly believe that our every action is a prayer. Every time we wake up and choose to face the day, it is a prayer for the strength and courage to handle it the best we can. Every time we feed our bodies, we are praying for another bout of energy to sustain our soul’s purpose here just a little longer. Every time we hold a child’s hand in a parking lot, we are praying for their safety not only in that moment, but in their future as they learn to practice caution by recalling our own.

Our ancestors’ prayers are still protecting us today. May ours do the same for generations to come. ❤️

Day 2 – Commitment

Image may contain: 1 person, sky, tree, cloud, outdoor and natureI have commitment issues. Changing my mind, changing directions, and changing plans are some of the things I do best. I’ve come to realize that for me, it makes sense to commit to the journey to my highest good, but not necessarily a specific route.

But some commitments do come naturally. Embracing magick and Unitarian Universalism felt like coming home. Having Henry was a no-brainer. Deciding to pursue ministry was as easy as breathing.

I guess when things are important parts of the greater good, even when they’re unexpected, they’re easier to commit to.

(And sometimes, when I can commit to waking up and getting out the door on time I get to see beautiful sunrises like this.)

Day 3 – Risk

Image may contain: foodI’ve never made gluten free cookies before, but there’s a first time for everything. I’m test running the cookie recipe we’ll be using in RE on Sunday. Cookie baking will directly follow my Time For All Ages about how we’re all a critical part of the Divine recipe.

Preparing the test batch this afternoon, I just wasn’t feeling chocolate chips, so I added some cinnamon and dried cranberries instead. The change was a risk, albeit a low-stakes one. I can’t say with certainty, but I do have a feeling they’re going to turn out just fine.

Maybe the most important risk we can take is trusting ourselves, and trusting that in the grand scheme of the Divine recipe, we are exactly where we are supposed to be, doing exactly what we are supposed to do, and everything will turn out just fine.

Day 4 – Passion

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I’m passionate about a lot of things, and I have a bit of a tendency to follow my passions to the point that I go too hard and burn out. Lately, I’ve been most passionate about protecting my energy and practicing radical self-care. I’ve been wearing black tourmaline and rose quartz the past several days. Their grounding, protecting, and loving energies complement each other in the most soothing way. 💖🖤

Day 5 – Sanctuary

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Until recently sanctuary has always, without question, meant the sanctuary at Westside, my home chruch. I’m fact, today I planned to write about the non-church sanctuaries I’ve found and created for myself since moving. However, as it so often does, the Universe had other plans.

This helped me pause and remember that my sanctuary isn’t only one physical place – it is the spiritual tradition that taught me unconditional love. The “Universalist” part of “Unitarian Universalist” comes from the idea of universal salvation. May the Divine knowledge of our own inherent worth and dignity be the universal sanctuary we carry with us always, even when we are far away from the places where it is easiest to recall.
 

Day 6 – Creativity

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I pride myself on my gift giving skills, but I’ve really outdone myself this time. Henry recently decided that almost every story we read is about them and one of my best friends, who they absolutely adore. So for my friend’s upcoming birthday, I wrote a story that actually is about them and Henry. Today’s creative project is assembling it into a photo book and ordering copies for both of them. 🥰

Day 7 – Dust

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I kicked up some dust today rearranging my workspace… again. Thankfully, my saint of an officemate just said, “I’m very entertained right now” when he saw my near-frantic organizing and purging. It’s coming along nicely. My favorite part is this little space where my many worlds collide. I guess the dust won’t settle the same, because nothing ever stays the same, but I am very glad for how things are coming together for now. 💛

Day 8 – Silence

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Most days, silence is a completely foreign concept in my home. But every now and then, like this past Sunday, this sweet no-longer-a-baby will crawl up into my lap and promptly fall asleep in my arms. Before Sunday, it had been a while, and I wondered if I’d unknowingly missed the last time. I took this photo somewhere in the quiet space between marveling at the absolute Divine perfection that is my child and at the gift of a moment to pause to thoroughly appreciate them.

Day 9 – Community

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Those three women are Miriam, Sue, and Mary. They’re three of the many, many incredible people in my church community that I’ve had the privilege of knowing and learning from for the last nine years. Mary died in January and I didn’t think I had a photo of her with Henry, so I was really glad to stumble upon this one the other day. ❤️

Day 10 – Imagination

Image may contain: possible text that says 'Helen Elise March 6, 2011 Just became an official member of Westside Unitarian Universalist Church.: 4 Comments Like Share Comment Share'Image may contain: text

Notice the dates on both of these posts. When I decided to become a member of Westside on this date in 2011, I never could have imagined I’d be bringing my three week old baby there five years later.

Even just one year ago, I never could have imagined that I would spend today setting up for my favorite service of the year, Flower Communion, at a church I’d never even heard of at the time. This wild journey has taken me beyond the farthest reaches of my imagination, and I couldn’t be more humbled and thankful. 💜

Day 11 – Play

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“Look Mommy, I made a chalice!”
😭

Childhood is deeply spiritual work. ❤️

Day 12 – Inclusion

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In crystals and gemstones, an inclusion is a material encased in the larger stone.

In my job, it’s doing everything I can to make worship sensory-and-family-friendly.

In a friendship going 11+ years strong, it’s video conferencing for a whole church service so I could join worship while Henry rested on an unexpected sick day.

Thank you, Kayla, for including me today. It means the world to me. 💜

Day 13 – Dance

Image may contain: foodThe one and only time I tried tantric dance, it was during a Kundalini yoga class. I had an intense awakening experience that continues to have impacts a year later, so now I exclusively dance to Nahko and Medicine for the People in my kitchen while baking. ✌🏼

Day 14 – Water

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”The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”

I’m so beyond glad to be home with my chosen family tonight. 💙

Day 15 – Courage

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Day 16 – Wisdom

Image may contain: 1 person, possible text that says 'Light Watkins @LightWatkins My spiritual teachers in order of importance: 1) People who annoy the living shit out of me. 2) All other spiritual teachers. 646 likes hilarioushumanitarian RP: @lightwatkins'

I find it fascinating that even though I have oracle cards in my purse, crystals in every pocket and room of my home, and spiritual mentors a text message away, sometimes the wisdom I need most comes to me in meme form. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Read UU Lent 2020 Part 2 – During the Pandemic here

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