Sunday, October 17, 2010

UU Salon--What is Sacred?

What is Sacred to Unitarian Universalists?

I'm still coming down off the "Start-up burn out" so I have no idea right now what is sacred to the adults in UU churches. You mean, there are actually grown-ups that go to church and sit down in the pews and stay for the whole service? What? This is so far from any reality that I remember on any planet in any universe that it doesn't compute.

But what's sacred to our children and youth? Oh yeah, that's the hot water to my Earl Gray for sure.

Here's what I think is sacred to our children:

1. Community.

"Do you see me? Do you think I'm OK? How about if I do this, do you still think that I'm OK? Do you like me? Now do you like me? Do you still like me if I do this? How about now? What about that person over there? Do they like me? What if I do this?" Answer: yes. No matter what you do, we like you. In fact, we love you and you can't make us stop. This is the recipe for community for some kids. It's not easy, but it is really worth it.

2. Ritual.

There must be flower communion, with the same music and the same vases every year. That's how you know it's really summer time. And there must be water communion. That's how you know it's really fall. When my family moved to a church that didn't practice water communion my children were horrified and continued to try to collect water for a few summers. Now, at the church I serve we celebrate water communion as a Children's Worship, and this year one of our young ones actually counted down the days until water communion. These rituals that are ours and only ours have to be practiced in a sacred way that honors a child's need for consistency and reverence. It's like a nightly family dinner for church. You just have to do it.

3. Joy.

Nothing reminds us to include joy in our lives like children. Maybe it's playing dinosaurs before church or maybe it's planting winter seeds in the children's garden or maybe it's just deciding that for today it's OK to just play games for class on Sunday morning. Sharing joy is so much more important than sharing a fact or thought. Joy is what moves us. Joy is what makes us whole. Joy is the spark of the holy that brings meaning and hope to life. And no one needs joy more than children. This is not exclusive to Unitarian Universalists, but we have such a commitment to the sacredness of the worth of each person that we're required by our moral obligation to make "joy" happen for our children. Often.

There is a line to be drawn--things that are sacred to us are not necessarily sacred to all. But we don't draw a line to keep others out, just to know what is safe and complete and what is ours.

Want to learn more? I'm sure there's a Unitarian Universalist religious educator near you who is suffering from "start-up burn out" who would just LOVE it if you could take on planning the next round of soup lunches and in the process, get to know more. Come find out for yourself what is sacred to UU kids.


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