One of the tragic ironies of history is that such original and creative geniuses as Buddha and Jesus have been extolled as perfect patterns for all to emulate. In the very struggle to be like someone else rather than to be one’s own true self, or to do one’s own best in one’s own environment, a child is in danger of losing the pearl that is really beyond price – the integrity of his (or her) own soul. –Sophia Lyons Fahs
Imagine if you will, a recent Sunday. You are feeling a little antsy and a bit curious and decide to follow the children as they are dismissed from the sanctuary to their classes after time for all ages.
Falling into line, you smile as you note the change in energy and rise in chatter immediately upon exiting the sanctuary. As you round the corner to the R.E. hallway, the half-door to the nursery is open. You linger to greet Lizz Cohen, our nursery coordinator. She is on the floor looking at a book with one with one of the toddlers. A parent is trying to help the teen assistant get his three year old engaged in building a tower with blocks. A third child stops what she is doing to stare at you until you talk to her for a minute before moving on.
In the next room you come to, 3rd and 4th graders are finishing up with their check-in. As you slip into the room and take a seat, Gale Charlotte, who is the guide this week, asks who wants to lead the chalice lighting words. When they are finished, she shares an image and tells them a story about Theodore Parker, the notable UU for the week, as a child. In the story, young Theodore’s conscience stops him from knocking a turtle off of a rock he was sunning himself on. Gale asks the kids to think of a time when their conscience talked to them. After they share, Gale turns the class over to Lisa Pantea, today’s workshop teacher. Lisa tells the kids that this month’s theme is democracy. In a democracy, there is free and open discussion before decisions are made. Among other things, Theodore Parker was an abolitionist who tried to persuade others to share his convictions. Lisa pulls out Apples to Apples, a game that centers on convincing a judge that your response is the best. At this point, you quietly slip out of the room.
A little further down the hallway, 1st and 2nd graders are already into their workshop. Today Lola Straub is helping theme create a class petition to the American Girl toy company to make a doll representing a girl with a handicap.
On to the preschool room, where the teacher, Beth Garretson is just finishing up with today’s Spirit Play story, “The Seven Blind Mice.” She sits quietly for a few moments before asking as if thinking aloud, “I wonder which part of this story you liked best.” A little boy offers that he likes the mouse who thinks an elephant’s trunk is a rope!”
Smiling to yourself, you slip away and make your way down to the 5th-8th grade room where Frank Arnold is facilitating an animated discussion about why people attend church. There are paper and pens on the table for the kids to use for doodling if they want, and Frank has a book with pictures of various places of worship and a handout with quotes from various sources that the kids take turns reading and discussing.
Realizing the time, you move on to the high school youth group, where they are discussing last minute details of the worship service they will be leading. A knock on the door interrupts the discussion, and Sherry Tripodi stands with the 2nd and 3rd graders as they enter the room. One of the 2nd graders tells the youth group what they are trying to accomplish with their petition and asks if they would like to sign it.
Time’s up, and as with most Sundays, it went by quickly.
I wonder: What do you have to share with our youngest UU’s? What do they have to share with you?
See you in church,
Director of Religious Exploration