October, 2016
October Greetings!

I'm happy to share this second edition of "We Are Going!" with you. Find out about our YUUth Group's Soulshine, Children's Choir this fall, Mother Up! Gathering and more.

Oh, and don't miss the goodies in the sidebar!

Read on and be well,

- Martha

Call of the Drum

Earlier this month during worship I shared about what it means to listen by pretending to be a rabbit who knows that foxes are nearby. I learned this at a Wilderness Survival Camp I attended with my niece.

The activity was but one of many, all of which experientially exposed us to the philosophy that the world is alive with clues, information, life, and wisdom. The earth is our mother and our teacher, and when we quiet ourselves enough to listen to it and observe it, we can learn a lot, including how to survive in the wild.

Deep listening involves trust and vulnerability.

At camp, after dark one evening, we did a "Drum Stalk." Lined up and blindfolded, we were led on a silent walk through woods and fields for about a half an hour. Then, letting go of one another, we listened to hear an occasional, single drumbeat. Faintly, we heard it. Our challenge, in silence, was to each find our way to the drum.

I began, slowly, feelingly, to step and stalk. The terrain rose, fell, shifted: dirt, grass, dry leaves underfoot. Brambles, limbs, trunks came into my reach and feel as I moved, pausing every few steps to listen. Sinking to the safety of a crawl when the underbrush caught and tripped my upright stance. Gradually trusting the process, I smiled into the dark mystery with love for the earth which felt to me as though she were nestling me and passing me across her body with her arms. At one point, observing a slight change in the sound of my own footsteps, I immediately held a tree's great girth. Time and space dissolved as I moved, and the drum beats gradually seemed louder. Approaching the sound cautiously, I paused to listen. Thump! boomed the drum, and I shocked and smiled. Three more cautious steps forward and my groping hands touched its head.

What a precious experience this was! May you, too, discover and create ways of exploring the deep potential of listening.

Grateful to share the journey with you,

Martha Dallas, Director of Religious Education
SoulShine:  Deep Listening in Youth Ministry 
-Tiffany Tillman, Youth Ministry Coordinator

Youth Ministry began with a bang and is off and running.  Our first meeting offered youth a time to reconnect with friends and form some new ones.  It also introduced a new ritual called Soulshine.  Soulshine is like Small Group Ministry, but for our youth.  Gathered in groups of five, our youth spend 15-20 minutes reflecting on prompts related to the theme of the month, current events or relevant topics to our group at the time.  It's a time where youth can offer their stories, successes, questions, wonderings and insight.  Soulshine is based on the idea that youth have the wisdom and ability to nurture and support each other in navigating this crazy, beautiful and sometimes challenging world we live in.  It offers an opportunity to practice and witness deep listening to ourselves, each other, and our world.  

Soulshine also transitions our youth from the beginning of our meetings where we focus on fun and business, to the end of our meetings where we focus on developing a spiritual practice and connecting with each other in a deeper way.  Following Soulshine, we learn about and practice mindfulness and hold space for Candlepass.  

Candlepass is a youth-generated ritual, like Joys and Sorrows, where youth share what's bubbling up inside them.  They share and silently listen to each other's struggles and triumphs by candlelight.  There is no discussion, nor questions.  Just listening and holding space.  

It is our aim that youth not only form friendships and a UU identity by participating in our programs, but also learn and explore such vital life skills like... deep listening.
Children's Choir!!
Nick Stokes, Children's Choir Director

We invite all singers, from 3rd through 8th grade, to join voices in the Children's Choir this fall! Absolutely no experience is required. The Children's Choir is an inclusive group for all children who enjoy singing. The fall season will include the following rehearsals and performance:

Sunday, October 16 -             Rehearsal: 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Sunday, October 23 -             Rehearsal: 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Sunday, October 30 -             Rehearsal: 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Sunday, November 6  -           Rehearsal: 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Sunday, November 13  -         Rehearsal: 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Sunday, November 20  -         Performance: Both Services

Rehearsals will take place in the sanctuary, and a snack will be provided. For more information, please email Nick Stokes at MrNicholasStokes@gmail.com
Mindful Parenting:  A Practice in Listening
Tiffany Tillman
Tiffany Tillman, Youth Ministry Coordinator

How do we as parents listen? How do we listen, deeply listen, when our lives are so hectic?  How do we listen when after a long day of work we need to rush home to quickly make dinner before we shuttle three children to the same number of activities?  How do we listen to ourselves, our children, our partners?  Listening is tough work.  

One skill practiced at each youth group meeting, and during worship services, is mindfulness.  Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to each moment.  It's the practice of pausing, noticing, breathing and then responding.  It's the practice of sitting in your car and taking a deep breath (or four) before turning the ignition to rush home.  It's the practice of turning around while doing the dishes and looking your child in the eye while they tell you about a struggle they had that day at school.

We practice mindfulness at our youth group meetings because we know how stressful and busy the lives of teens are these days.  Being a teen is hard.  Parenting teens can be even harder.  We believe that mindfulness can ease the stress of school and help teens develop strategies to happily, confidently and compassionately walk through their teen years into adulthood.  

Lucky for us, mindfulness is all the rage right now.  There are numerous resources out there to explore and gobble up.  Check out The Mindful Parent blog.  Or learn more about the teen brain by reading Brainstorm by Daniel Siegel.  Or check out The Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel as well.  

Or, don't read anything at all.  Just sit back, breathe and give yourself a moment to listen to your heart, your child or the sound of your car starting...before you move onward.
photo_ Suzie McCoy
Mother Up! Altar (photo by Suzie McCoy)
Mother Up! Gathering
Suzie McCoy

The first gathering of the Mother Up! group was held this past Thursday, October 13 at the UU from 5:30-7:00 pm. The evening began with a shared vegan meal in the parlors which included a delicious butternut squash soup, kale salad, bread and cookies, all provided by Jen Lazar. 

The group then moved to the sanctuary where we created a beautiful altar with locally grown seasonal items (pumpkins, kale, corn stalks, apples, flowers), shared in small groups our "rose, bud & thorn" moments, then listened to stories and watched a slide show from a summer trip to Gasland in PA, where several families traveled to witness fracking and its devastating consequences. 

In closing, we sang together and took a "100 mile challenge", deciding to try to eat our meals from within 100 miles of our homes over the next month before we meet again in November. 

"Mother Up!: Parents Exchange for Change" is an initiative of 350VT, seeking to build locally-based parent networks across Vermont to participate in climate justice work. The belief is that parents are powerful voices in fighting for the health and safety of our planet and collective future. 

Mother Up! will meet all year long at First UU on the 2nd Thursdays, 5:30-7:00 pm. Dinner and childcare is provided. Our next gathering is Thursday, November 10thPlease come join the action! 
Parenting children with disabilities?
Martha Dallas

Raising atypical children can take a stressful toll on parents, siblings, and families. Navigating school, support resources, doctors and diagnoses can feel confusing, exhausting, and lonely.

If you are the parent of a child with differences or disabilities, First UU can help by connecting you with a community of parents who affirm our first principle: the inherent worth and dignity of everyone! If you'd like to connect with other UU parents like yourself for support, let me know and I'll help make that happen! Contact me: martha@uusociety.org | 862-5630 x 28. Office hours: Tues-Fri 9-5.

Do you like sharpening pencils?
Martha Dallas

Calling all kids!

I need help sharpening a big bunch of pencils for our RE classes. All you need to do is come find me during coffee hour and tell me you want to sharpen pencils. I'll set you up with an electric pencil sharpener and a bunch of pencils to sharpen and you do the rest!  Thanks!

The UU Flaming Chalice
Martha Dallas

Creative folks have come up with all sorts of forms of our beloved symbol of our faith. Here are a bunch on Pinterest. Check out the cookies, ornaments, magnets, chocolate chalice and more!

Maybe you'd like to make your own chalice to use at home. If you make a special and unusual chalice, send me a picture and I'll share it here!
In This Issue
is  this month's theme.

 contains resources for children and families! Find them on page 4.

Handy Links
Parenting Resources

Do you have a blog you love? A book to recommend? Let us know and we'll put it here in an upcoming edition!

Blogs to check out:
Check out these videos on Mindfulness.  Helpful for Kids, Teens and Parents.

This is a great book for helping your teen practice and develop skills in mindfulness.

First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington, Vermont 
152 Pearl Street
Burlington, VT 05401