We had some difficulties showing the video last Sunday, so I decided to post it here for those who didn't see it, or would like to see it again. Enjoy!
Ming Lo Moves the Mountain - Story by Arnold Noble, retold by Erica Shadowsong
For Older Audiences
Indigenous peoples' rights and climate action are inextricably enter-twined. More and more, with the power of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, the world is becoming more aware of the continued fight for responsible, symbiotic earth stewardship that are a part of indigenous wisdom from around the world. Unitarian Universalists reference "Earth-centered traditions" in our sixth source, indicating that the knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual connection to our concerns about the earth, each other, and climate change, can be found in present day as well as traditional indigenous wisdom. In other words, there are some voices we should be listening more and more that help point the way to live in harmony with the earth even today, knowing we cannot go back and undo the history of colonialism and the way it disrupted the indigenous ways of life.
But indigenous people have always been here, are still here, and have always been speaking. One of those people Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of the book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. As a scientist as well as a woman of indigenous heritage, Kimmerer is one of the primary voices speaking out now about how we can look forward with hope and still learn from indigenous ways of life. Here is one such talk of hers. One common theme in so many of her lectures and in her books is the emphasis on hope, and many are finding spiritual inspiration in the teachings and stories she shares with us.
The tradition of pysanky, egg decorating, is part of Ukrainian folk and traditional culture. Eggs were traditionally given as gifts in many cultures, including what is now the Ukraine. Ukrainians began to decorate these eggs with special symbols for good fortune. In the Ukrainian Orthodox Christian religion, Ukrainians have continued this tradition, and included more religious symbolism on the eggs. Our decorating of eggs around Easter, when Christians celebrate the story of the resurrection of Jesus, comes from this amazing folk tradition!
Below is a story called Rechenkas Eggs that shows us some examples of pysanky.
Now that you've read Rechenkas Eggs, follow this video to make your own pysanky-style egg picture!
The Passover Seder: This video shows how Jewish people celebrate the Passover seder in a variety of ways traditional and modern, fancy and casual!
From Passover to Easter
Christianity, which follows the teachings of Jesus, celebrates the story of his resurrection around Easter, which occurs very close to the Passover. Whether or not they or others believe that Jesus did miraculously resurrect, the story has come to continue the theme of liberation from oppression, through having love for every other human being.
Here is a story about Jesus by a UU author, to learn more:
Meet Jesus: The Life and Lessons of a Beloved Teacher.
Adults & Youth
UUs on Jesus and Miracles
Unitarian Universalists have many varying ideas about themes in the Passover and Easter story regarding Jesus and miracles. For some examples, the following two pamphlets published by the UUA detail some reflections by different UUs on these topics.
Black Liberation Theology Responds to Systems of Oppression
In 2003, President Obama became the center of controversy when the pastor of his own church, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, famously said the words "God save America? No. God damn America!" Obama and other Black leaders, including the founder of black liberation theology, Rev. James Cone, found themselves having to respond to these comments to the many Americans who were offended or did not understand how a religious leader could say such a thing.
The video clip below shows this part of Rev. Wright's speech in context, which for some has helped them understand the reason for his words, even if they disagree with them. An NPR article (recorded and written) goes further into exploring traditions of black liberation theology preaching style, and its relationship to Rev. Wright's comments about America.
As you watch and listen to the video and audio clips below, you may ask yourself questions like the following:
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;” - 3rd Principle
“Yearn to accept and learn about ourselves, others, and the Mystery.” - Yellow Promise
What Makes You Special?
Getting to know how people are different from us, helps us appreciate us and them. We learn when we accept one another’s differences and what makes us each unique.
Close your eyes, and think about what makes you special or perhaps different from others. It could be something you enjoy, like soccer; something you can do, such as speak another language, or something you are, such as the only child in your family.
When you open your eyes, share your answer! Say, "I am special because_______," and then complete the sentence.
Song: “I’m Unique & Unrepeatable” from Love Surrounds Us K-1 program
Listen to Erica sing it and repeat! (To the tune of “10 Little Children”)
I'm unique and unrepeatable (3x)
I'm glad to be me!
You're unique and unrepeatable (3x)
I'm glad that you're you!
We're unique and unrepeatable (3x)
we're glad to be us!
Different Points of View
I’d like to share a story with you from Hide and Seek with God, by Mary Ann Moore. It’s a story about how different people experience things differently. You can listen to me tell it here:
Story: “People Have Different Ideas About God” read by Erica Shadowsong.
Here’s a question for when you finish listening:
“Did I enjoy hearing the different ideas about God?”
In other words, is there a benefit to hearing different ideas about something we are trying to understand? If so, what do you think it is? What is it for you?
What About When One Way is “Wrong?!”
The astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, despite his reputation among some fundamentalists, advocates being able to discuss with people and listen to their point of views, even though he has absolute opinions about certain things in the world based on science.
What can be gained, if anything, from entertaining the opinions of someone who you are certain is wrong? Is there any chance of benefit to both sides?
In the video below, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Russell Brand discuss ideas about the physical realm versus the spiritual realm, presenting one example of how such a conversation might go.
When Something Personal is At Stake; Can Anything Be Gained from Listening?
I’m not a big fan of the video I am about to share, which is part of the reason I felt it was perfect for the theme we’re considering. As much as I do not reach the same conclusions as Cassie Jaye, I could not deny having similar experiences of becoming aware that I was not really listening to someone because of how I felt about what I expected or believed them to be saying.
In this video, Cassie Jaye talks about her experience of “Meeting the Enemy,” members of the Men’s Rights Movement, and her work on the film about it. Does any part of her experience seem familiar to you? Has there ever been a time when you decided to really listen to someone you didn’t want to? What was the result?
A conversation can be a contest,
or a game of catch with invisible balloons.
They bounce between us, growing and shrinking,
sometimes floating like cloud medicine balls,
and sometimes bowling at us like round anvils.
You toss a phrase and understanding blooms
like an anemone of colored lights.
My mind fireworks with unasked questions.
Who is this miracle speaking to me?
And who is this miracle listening?
What amazingness are we creating?
Out of gray matter a star spark of thought
leaps between synapses into the air,
and pours through gray matter, into my heart:
how can I not listen generously?
The Three Questions
The original story The Three Questions is by the famous Russian author Leo Tolstoy, author of War and Peace. Thich Nhat Hanh reflects on this story briefly.
The Three Questions - An Adaptation for Children by Jon J. Muth
Buddhism is a religion of consistency. It propels the seeker's spiritual growth by encouraging attention to all aspects of the person's life. Consistency is important for a community, as well-if our shared values are really important to us, then we want to be sure we're living them.
Review each of the Principles of Unitarian Universalism. For each Principle, discuss briefly its implications for the community-in other words, what would it look like if a congregation truly lived that Principle?
And other movies about mindfulness!
And here's one of my personal favorites. The Code
Comments? Share your reflections!