Monday, March 29, 2021

March Mystery Madness -- Another year of multigenerational connections!

 If ever there was a March in need of some friendship and magic, it was this one!

"And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed." ~Kahlil Gibran

Thank you to all those who kept the March Mystery Madness tradition alive and well this year. Hooray to the 7 children, 9 middle or high school youth, and 16 adults, 1 Easter Bunny and many stuffed animals and pets who were part of the Big Reveal Celebration on Zoom yesterday! The Big Reveal is when each person gets to meet their Mystery Buddy who they've been exchanging clues with all month.

Deep appreciation to Deborah Van Ness for making the magic happen by lovingly coordinating the many logistics for the magic to blossom! And THANK YOU to all the parents and caregivers who helped their young person answer the emails, and attach photos, and make it to yesterday's CELEBRATION.

After three weeks of exchanging emails with clues, questions and other fun tidbits about life via an intermediary email account ( some of the buddies had narrowed down who it might be. After 15 minutes of Zoom visiting, people came back to the main room bubbling with exciting connections. "My buddy has a totally black cat, just like me!" "My buddy and I both speak French!" "We both really love to crack rocks open!" Many are hoping to keep the connection going. It is an awesome tradition.

Thank you to David Mears for bringing the idea to UCM about ten years ago, and to Sally Daab Armstrong and others for helping give it wings, and the many who have kept it going since then. If it can survive getting interrupted mid-way last year (it became May Mystery Madness) and being 100% virtual this year, I think it really has strong, deep roots at UCM now.

March 26, 2021 ~ A Mindful Cup of Tea


I so appreciate those who participated in Friday morning's program, A Cup of Mindful Tea (on Zoom). I appreciated this rare time of quiet connection. I also enjoyed the discussion with those of you who lingered afterward to reflect on how the practice was.  

I was inspired that for some of you this is part of a wider practice of adding mindfulness to your meal times or other rhythms in general.  There are many people who thrive on a daily spiritual practice, and a cup of tea seems like a very attainable one to try out.  I imagine even just a few times a week could be very transformative toward spiritual and physical well being.   

Invitations for follow-up: 

1. Watch or just listen to the recording of the guided meditation part with a warm drink in your hands. I know that some of you intended to be there and it just didn't work out or maybe you were there and want another go at it until it becomes second nature. 

2. Find out more about that plant of your preferred tea or coffee.  I am excited to have found this 3 min. video about rooibus. It will help me feel more connected to the one place in the world where it grows in Cedarburg, South Africa.  I can more easily send my gratitude when I can visualize what it looks like, and gratitude for those who cultivate and harvest it.  It takes 2 years to mature!  If your tea is local herbs, look up more of the health benefits.       

3. If any of you would like to have another gathering like this, let me know and I'm happy to set up another Fri. morning Zoom link for another week or two out.  I don't think I could lead it every time but it could be a time of sitting together, or of one of you taking a turn to guide the meditation.  

Here's the Thich Nhah Hanh quote Pat found that inspired the session all together:  

“Something as simple and ordinary as drinking a cup of tea can bring us great joy and help us feel our connection to the Earth. The way we drink our tea can transform our lives if we truly devote our attention to it. Sometimes we hurry through our daily tasks, looking forward to the time when we can stop and have a cup of tea. But then when we’re finally sitting with the cup in our hands, our mind is still running off into the future and we can’t enjoy what we’re doing; we lose the pleasure of drinking our tea. 

We need to keep our awareness alive and value each moment of our daily life. We may think our other tasks are less pleasant than drinking tea. But if we do them with awareness, we may find that they’re actually very enjoyable. Drinking a cup of tea is a pleasure we can give ourselves every day. 

To enjoy our tea, we have to be fully present and know clearly and deeply that we are drinking tea. When you lift your cup, you may like to breathe in the aroma. Looking deeply into your tea, you see that you are drinking fragrant plants that are the gift of Mother Earth. You see the labor of the tea pickers; you see the luscious tea fields and plantations in Sri Lanka, China, and Vietnam. You know that you are drinking a cloud; you are drinking the rain. The tea contains the whole universe.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, How to Eat

And here's an article that gave me some inspiration, How to Be Mindful with a Cup of Tea.  

Thursday, March 4, 2021

New Books and Follow-up Session for Talking About Race with Kids and Youth


Practice Session / Follow-up: Talking about Race with Kids and Youth
Sat. March 13th, 10-11:30am
Liza bought some more of the titles recommended in our Feb. 6th workshop. Sign them out from her front porch (397 Elm St.), and read them with someone in your life.  Join us for the March 13th follow-up as a chance to practice potential conversations in a supportive space.  We'll send the Zoom link / reminder to anyone who was at the Feb. 6th workshop *AND/OR* to anyone from UCM who watches the recording.  To be emailed a link to recording of the Feb. 6th workshop, sign-up here

Bridging Sessions allow H.S. seniors to reflect on the idea of change


Many thanks to John Poeton and the three high school seniors who are this years participants in UCM's yearlong Bridging program for a great session together this week.  Our Bridgers gather four times during this church year to reflect on the many elements that are part of the transition into adulthood.  We spend time reflecting on the past, their memories of growing up in the church, values that took root, their beliefs and how they've changed or deepened over time, and the road ahead.  We check-in and discuss how to navigate road blocks that might arise along our paths.  We listen deeply to one another.  It's a fabulous experience and you can see here, we're still having a lot of fun, even if we're not in shared physical space together!  

Please make sure to join us in worship on Sunday June 6th for our Bridging Ceremony to honor this rite of passage in the lives of these amazing young adults!  

Recap of some February Children's Chapels

RECAP: Sun. Feb. 28th

Dear families!  

Great to have many kids, two youth helpers, and many caring grown-ups in the Children's Chapel Sunday.   Thank you to LSE volunteer Beth Merrill for taking the lead!  

For all you parents getting through the final day of school vacation, there's an great potential for a fun self-directed project for the kids at the end of this.    

Recap: We reiterated the idea of a Beloved Community being a place where people can "Be Loved."  And although this is the last week that Beloved Community is our theme, I mentioned that our church tried to be a beloved community year round... 

Mystery Box held two fragile objects..... a compact mirror and a small frame with glass that represented a window.  I shared that like the students, I'm taking a class about children's literature, because I LOVE kids and young adult books and helping kids find books that make them want to read more.  In that class, we're learning about how books can be mirrors and tell us stories that remind us of our own lives or stories... or books can be windows that let us see other peoples' worlds that we don't know as much about.  Both are important!  

I introduced these photos of Marley Dias, with her frustration about reading 5 books about boys with white skin and their dogs in 5th grade, while these books were interesting, she just couldn't see a mirror or herself or her story in these books.  In my class we learned that if there are 100 books, only about 9 of them have characters with brown skin or about people from other countries.  This all inspired Marley to start the project of 1000 books, where she wanted to collect books with stories about girls with brown skin like her so that she could see more mirrors in what she was reading.  It's also important for us, as people with white skin, to look through windows and see stories about people like Marley who have brown skin.  (See photos and links below) 

We watched this book called  Milo's Museum

Liz highlighted that the book ended with the sign changing from "Milo's Museum" to "The Peoples' Museum".  

Then we looked for objects in our homes that tell a little of our or our family's stories.  In break-out groups, kids shared a little about their "artifact." Creating windows for others to look through at our lives.   Some kids had a little trouble thinking of/finding something to share, but in the end I think we did ok! 

I ended with my own clothespin artifact story, and the idea that they might invite their parents to share special artifacts from their stories and make a mini museum like Milo did. 

Follow-up: Encourage your child/ren in creating their own museum at home that tells THEIR sotry.  One parent writes: [Child's name] was inspired by Sunday’s Children’s Chapel and
Beth A Merrill
’s reading of the story to start his own museum and write a news article about it. [His dad] conducted the interview and did the actual writing. Thanks, LSE team, for the inspirational Children’s Chapels!

Another follow-up idea: Liza has just ordered over a dozen more books to help kids have more windows and mirror books in our own UCM Library!  Stop by and check them out at 397 Elm St.  There's a notebook to sign out the titles you borrow.   

Marley Dias- 1000 books,  up to 4000!



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Children's Chapel (on Zoom) every Sunday, 9:15-9:45am
Sun. March 7th: Commitment to Curiosity
As Unitarian Universalists, we are committed to asking ourselves and others some BIG QUESTIONS--about nature, about feelings, about life and death, and more.  Longtime LSE volunteer and geologist, Art Stukey, will be our guest this week, and will have a mysterious object for us to ask questions about. We'll also read I Wonder by Annaka Harris. Kids are welcome to bring a big question of their own.  Find us via the yellow "Join Children's Chapel" button at


RECAP: Sun. Feb. 21st

Dear families, 

It was a treat to have nine kids and many of you, their lovely adults, in the Children's Chapel on Sunday. Here's a recap for those of you who might be interested, with some follow-up ideas. Hope to see you this Saturday for the Talent Show 6:30-8pm.  Many of our Children's Chapel kids will be performing and it's a great way to support one another and there are fun, free raffle items!  Register here

Beloved Community: Healing the Wounds of Racism 

Wonder box: We opened the wonder box to find some bandages, and talked about the wound of racism and that we need to find ways to heal that in order to have a truly Beloved Community.  


Guests presenters: 
  • Fiona, a member of UCM's high school youth group, shared about her idea of supporting Black-owned artists on Etsy, and her grandmother, Sally Armstrong shared the piece of artwork that Fiona gave her.   
  • Meredith and Esme shared (with photos) about organizing and participating in several solidarity actions this spring and summer including a poster their family created as part of a commitment to antiracism.  
Ripple effect: We talked about how those are just efforts by a few people at church.  Imagine how big an impact we can have on healing the wound of racism if all 450 or so people who are part of our bigger church community each take steps like this to heal racism!!!!  

We also: 
  • shared Joys and Concerns in breakout rooms 
  • sang We Give Thanks (for the great examples of anti-racism that our guests told us about)
  • we heard the picture book One, by Kathryn Otoshi and talked about standing up for others Screen Shot 2021-02-18 at 7.53.36 AM.png

Follow-up ideas: 

Listen to One (link above) together and talk about times in your lives you've stood up to a bully or wish that you had.  

Have discussions and create a Family Manifesto for Black Lives like Esme's family did.    

Sing Oh We Give Thanks together (Sorry I couldn't find a more diverse video.  I DO like that it is kids singing though! )

Practice Session / Follow-up: Talking about Race with Kids and Youth
Sat. March 13th, 10-11:30am
We had a great turnout on Sat. Feb. 6th of UCM parents/caregivers, grandparents, LSE volunteers and educators. Join us for this follow-up as a chance to practice together in a supportive space.  We'll automatically send the Zoom link / reminder to anyone who was at the Feb. 6th workshop *AND* to who watches the recording.  To be emailed a link to recording of the Feb. 6th workshop, sign-up here.

Summer Events

  Thank you for your interest in connecting this summer. Below you'll find more details! Cookout for UCM Families & LSE Volunteers ...