RE News, April 16, 2021

Dear friends,

Kristin Bray contacted me the other day with a lovely offer.  Some of you may know that she manages the bookstore at the Waldorf School that Kai attends. The other day she was looking up the story I read last Sunday, Rescue and Jessica, and it occurred to her that others might also like the chance to purchase the stories I share. Here is her offer, in her words:

Would you like to purchase the book that Lauren reads in her Story for All Ages time and benefit FPW at the same time? Email Kristin Bray at homespun@thewaldorfschool.org with the name of the book and the number you would like to order on Sunday or Monday.  She will place order the books on Tuesdays and 10% of the cover price will be donated to First Parish!

If you order a book, she’ll contact you about payment and let you know the details of how ordering works.  And she’s able to get other books as well, not just kids’ books.  I’ll make sure this offer goes in the newsletter in coming weeks, and I’ll also make the list of stories I’ve told this year available to anyone who’d like to know the titles.

In other news, who’s getting excited to meet Rev. Sophia? I know I am! I have already had a Zoom conversation with the other staff members and Rev. Sophia, and she and I also had a really lovely phone conversation.  The thing that’s clearest is that she can’t wait to meet all of you!  And there will be opportunities coming up during candidating week for that.

For our RE program, Rev. Sophia will be joining us on Sunday, April 25 at noon for our regular RE time.  This is a time for our children and younger youth to get to know Rev. Sophia, tell her about themselves, and ask questions.  There will also be a time for parents and other adults connected to the RE program to meet with Rev. Sophia, on Saturday May 1, but I don’t have the time yet.  And there will be a meeting for our 8th-12th grade youth to talk with her. All these meetings will take place on Zoom. 

Rev. Sophia will be super busy during her week with us, meeting with as many people as she can (while somehow also not getting totally exhausted!), so please try to come to a gathering and also to the services she will lead on April 25 and May 2.  Remember that our polity governance structure means that congregations call our ministers — our congregation, after meeting Rev. Sophia, will vote to call her in an important congregational meeting on May 2 after church.  I know our search committee has done an amazing job of finding us a candidate who’s right for us — but in the end, the members of our congregation are the ones who make the final decision! So come and get to know your candidate!

I’m looking out the window at a snowstorm today but I swear, spring IS here.  Things are looking pretty bright to me — I hope to you too.

Much love,

Lauren

RE News — March 19, 2021

Lauren Strauss, DRE

I’m sure everyone else has said this all kinds of ways this past week, but we’ve now had a year since the pandemic shut us down.  When we closed down, I optimistically thought we’d be back in a couple of weeks, and I never dreamed that we’d be closed for a year, that Zooming in to worship and RE would be normal, that we’d be calling a minister we’ve never met in person, that seeing people in ‘3D’ as one of the RE Committee members puts it would feel like a luxury.  That I’d be looking forward to getting a shot as much as I am… and I don’t even go on the eligible list until April 5.

This will be our second year celebrating Easter (on April 4!) from a distance.  Last year some of my RE colleagues put together a virtual Easter egg hunt through about 100 church websites, and we participated in it.  But this year we’ll be doing something different – a collaborative art project we hope to bring to our church yard in the weeks surrounding Easter.  Families, watch your email tomorrow for information on how to participate.

I feel like I need to say something about my personal commitment—and the church’s commitment—to anti-racism and dismantling white supremacy, since the topic is such a charged one in the Watertown community right now.  I was raised in a family that was as against racism as it was possible to be in the late 60s and early 70s. I can’t say we were ‘anti-racist’ because we did not understand institutional racism as a concept, and we could easily overlook all but the most blatant racist incidents.  We didn’t talk about microagressions because we didn’t know what they were. I was well into my 40s and even my 50s before I understood concepts like systems theory and implicit bias.

But I was taught that we treat everyone equally, and as a personal gauge of behavior I believe I have done reasonably well following it.  When I learned that it wasn’t enough – that the world was not the fair place I was raised to believe it was – I had to completely shift my worldview.  And it’s fair to say I’ve shifted my worldview a dozen times since the day I first started to see things differently.  I’m learning daily, reexamining what I think I know, exploring new ideas, and poking at myself when I feel uncomfortable about assertations of racism in our community.  It is both easy and accurate for me, as a white person, to say “I have always been treated fairly and politely by our police.” That has, indeed, been my experience.  But my experience as a middle-aged white lady is not going to be the only kind of experience people have with police.  It is far too easy to let my “I’ve never had that experience” be a dismissal of other people’s experiences.  And people who look like me have been dismissing BIPOC folks’ experiences for centuries in this country. 

We have to be careful.  We are being entrusted, in this time, in this wonderful faith of open doors and open minds, with creating space where every human being feels welcome, included, expected, and accepted for who they are.  That means that those of us in privileged majority groups need to let go of some of our preconceptions and expectations and create that beloved community we talked about all last month. 

We start with listening.  We start with believing it when others tell us what they’ve experienced, even if it’s different from our own experiences.  We begin by understanding systems theory and being able to differentiate between personal behavior and systemic behavior: it was perfectly possible for me to be staunchly not-racist while at the same time swimming in institutional racism and reaping the benefits. 

And we – white people – become really, truly anti-racist when we’re willing to speak up for what’s right, and when we’re willing to cede our power and our advantages to make the world more equitable. We cannot let our BIPOC friends’ and neighbors’ voices ring out into the void.  We need to speak up.

Let our commitment to true equality in our congregation and in our community be our guide in the upcoming weeks and months.  Be the heroes our children think we are.

Much love,

Lauren 

RE News, February 19, 2021

Lauren Strauss, DRE

Dear ones,

This month’s musing on the state of Religious Education at First Parish of Watertown comes with an ‘ask.’  Please consider whether you might be the right person to answer this call.

Contrary to all popular adult misconceptions about what youth are like, the youth at First Parish of Watertown have been pretty consistently ambivalent about meeting on Zoom.  Our youth group met at first, and we finished our OWL classes virtually, but really… on the whole, the youth group has been in hiatus this year.  The one time I was able to offer an opportunity to meet in person – for the sword dance in preparation for the pageant – every single youth in our group showed up.  They are longing to be in person with one another.  Even those who swim in the digital ocean by nature need to come up for air.

And this year all five members of our Senior Youth Group are supposed to be doing Coming of Age.  The RE Committee and I decided a few months ago to wait until springtime and offer a program that can meet at least some of the time in person.  At that time, it wasn’t even clear that there would be a vaccine available, but the fact that there is gives me hope.  That said, we’ll still begin cautiously, meeting outdoors, staying distanced according to regulations set forth by the UUA and by our state and local governments.

Mentors are a vital part of the Coming of Age program at FPW. Our kids really cherish the opportunity to get to know an adult in our community, to hear about your personal faith journeys as they contemplate their own, and to have that connection with a non-parental adult.  COA relationships between youth and their mentors are special and wonderful and long-lasting. 

We have five awesome youth about to come of age in our church, and they will need mentors.  A mentor does not have to be a person who has all the answers, does not have to be a life-long UU.  The qualities we seek in a mentor are people who are committed to exploring our UU faith alongside the youth they mentor. 

We meet roughly once a month and cover a variety of topics in preparation for our youth to present their Statements of Belief (also called Credos) and, if they so choose, sign the membership book.

If you think you might be ready to walk this path alongside one of our wonderful young people, or if you have questions about the program, please contact me at dre@fpwatertown.org.

Thank you!

RE News, January 15 2021

Lauren Strauss, Director of Religious Education

Dear ones,

I know that many of you are trying to find your feet after last week… the way our current President and his followers have been behaving leaves us all shaken.  Events like this – when a mob forces its way into Congress and terrorizes lawmakers because they don’t like the results of the election – are confusing and scary enough for us as adults to process.  For children, they are even more difficult to understand.

We as Unitarian Universalists often participate in marches and protests as a part of our commitment to justice, to democracy, and to creating a peaceful and equitable world for all human beings.  We are justifiably proud of our commitment to social justice and action, and it is something I don’t ever want to see us stop doing until we build that ideal world in which all are treated with respect, dignity, and equality.  Many among our own congregation have participated in protests for Black Lives Matter, in peace vigils supporting our Muslim neighbors, in the March for Science, the Women’s Marches, in walks for peace and for hunger… our actions are important, they are heard, they make sure that everyone has a voice.

When something like the events of last week happen, it can be hard for children to discriminate between what we proudly participate in for justice, and the illegal action of breaking into the Houses of Congress.  You can’t even point at violence as the line between protest and insurrection, because we have seen protests for noble causes turn violent for a variety of reasons, and even if we are not happy when violence occurs, sometimes we can understand it.

No, the difference isn’t in the violence but in the intent.  The people who violated our national trust a week ago did so not because their rights and lives hung in the balance, but because they did not get their way.  And they went to Washington with intent to do harm.  It was an attempt to overturn the results of our election – the heart of American democracy. I, and every adult I talked to over the days following, felt shock and horror, and had to spend time processing both emotions and the facts behind the events.


And while I wish our children weren’t aware of what was going on in the world, that we could shield them from this and other similar news stories, the reality is that our children pay attention.  They hear their parents talking, they hear their peers talking, and some of them may have access to other sources of information. Just as we, as adults, have needed to process emotions and events, so do our children. 

And we must all continue to commit to action toward justice and equity for all human beings.  This is one of our highest callings as Unitarian Universalists, and our children and youth are watching us and learning from us.  We need to be there for them to help understand events and to reassure them that we will keep them safe.  We need to model behavior that lifts up marginalized people and creates safe and wonderful space for them in our church and in our community.  We need to continue to live our values, for our children.

Here are a few articles you may find helpful in talking to children and youth about the insurrection and about scary news in general.

Please feel free to contact me if you or your child would like to talk about anything.

Much love,
Lauren

RE News, December 2020

Lauren Strauss, DRE

Dear ones,

As I write this (a couple of days before it gets published), I am very much in the midst of pageant preparation.  This year’s pageant will feature no fewer than 18 sheep of different sizes and colors, brand-new footage of our traditional sword dance, and a whole flock of sheep-adjacent puns.

Sword Dancers at the church Tuesday night.

It’s very different pageant prep than in other years.  I mean, I still had to climb into the attic, but I only came down with the arm bands for the dancers and the sheep costumes, and I bought a whole bunch of new fleece so we’ll have a lovely mixed flock of sheep in future. Another difference is that I actually know who is in the pageant and what roles they’re playing before the newsletter goes to print, so I can say my thanks and announce the cast early rather than in January!

This year’s pageant is a report from FLOCKS News, about a stranger upsetting the usual order of things.  The cast is as follows:

Newscasters:

            Ramses Sheepleton on the news desk – Corwin Dickson

            Fleecy Marino, reporter on the North Hill – Joshua Brock

            Baarb Woolworth, reporter on the South Hill – Akash Warren

            Hoof Flockerson, reporter on the East Hill – Kai Dickson

            Ewe Van Mutton, reporter on the West Hill – Morgen Brock

            Nanny Lambert, Sheep in the Field — Laima Jerome

Flock Leaders

            Leicester Herd from the Northern Flock – Ranjan Warren

            Hayden Hillbury from the Southern Flock – Kostas Jerome

            Lanolin dePasture from the Eastern Flock – Elena Jones

            Clover MacGraze from the Western Flock – Haley Chamberlain

The Stranger – Magdalena Stepsis

Four Lambs:

            Lamb 1: Connor Calabro

            Lamb 2: Talia Stepsis 

            Lamb 3: Lydia Jones

            Lamb 4: Clara Hanson-Plass

Sword Dancers:

Corwin Dickson (Captain)

            Gates Morton

            Tamsin Lepera

            Haley Chamberlain

            Marcos Portz

            Kai Dickson

            Ranjan Warren

            Kostas Jerome

            Morgen Brock

Sheep: Hattie, Spencer, Cat, Miles

In addition, I would like to thank the following folks who’ve helped make this production possible:  Charlyn Bethell and Guy Urban, for coming in to church to help film the sword dance, and for organizing the two hymns and the prelude and postlude, and for generally being amazing.

I have a Cricut machine and I’m not afraid to use it.

Allison Hewett for all the technology awesome, and for helping me make the special masks for our sword dancers.

Rev. Wendy Bell for all her support and for always being there in case I need anything.

The Stepsis family for their musical contribution, and Ranjan Warren for his musical contribution (I’m not saying what they are yet, you’ll have to come on Sunday and find out!).

Elisabeth Strekalovsky, Louise Harrison Lepera, and Sarah McSweeney Chamberlain for being ‘delivery elves’ and getting costumes and props to the actors.

The families of the sword dancers for getting them to the church and for trusting us with their precious kids for an hour together.  We bathed in hand sanitizer and wore special masks.

Tom Ostfeld for being tech support and also for opening the blessed attic door.  And Mia Ostfeld for knowing more than I do about how to edit video, and helping her mom even though it’s finals week.  I’m spoiled rotten by my family. 

See you all on Sunday. At least we won’t have to drive to church in the storm, right? 😁

Love,

RE News November 2020

Dear friends,

As our pageant approaches, I am forced to look back at the 9 preceding pageants I’ve helped orchestrate here and acknowledge that this 10th one will be unprecedented.

I am committed to … sheep. And a sword dance.  And a beautiful story. And costumes. And a message that leaves us all hopeful and feeling as if we are turning a corner in our lives, in the life of this nation, in the heart of Unitarian Universalism.  I am as yet unclear exactly how it will happen — but I am confident it will happen.  I believe in miracles, even when miracles involve bits of video from 30 children and a prayerful acknowledgement that iMovie is not actually the best video editing software out there, but it is the one I know how to use.

This contemplation of delving into the unknown seems like a perfect metaphor for this whole year.  Each week’s RE classes are some combination of experiment and content and figuring out what works.  Last week I found myself explaining symbolism and metaphor to a group of children age 5-12, which — if you know anything about child development, should have at least been partially impossible. But that is where the conversation led us — from a practice of gratitude as meditation or prayer, to the story of Carolyn McDade writing our hymn “Spirit of Life,” which contains metaphors like “roots” and “wings” which … does not mean we’re a tree or a bird!  But what does it mean?  So we talked about what real roots do for real plants, and then… we got from there, almost magically, to the things in our lives that act like roots: community, friends, family.  Tradition, even. 

In a different group of children the conversation might have gone very differently, and I find this every week: that our religious education class doesn’t always go where I thought it would.  It grows organically, taking new turns and spreading and adjusting and exploring.  It is very different from any religious exploration I’ve done with the children of this community in the past ten years, and it is extremely satisfying, and engaging, at least for me.  I hope it is for our children.

Digging in to new ideas can be amazing, a little daunting, and really, really fulfilling when we reach a milestone.  When we can’t be together in the same space, we’re still finding ways to connect.  And bringing tradition in whenever possible — preserving the things we have known — balances the vertigo from all the newness.

So there will be a pageant.  It will be as familiar as it can, while also exploring some new ideas and engaging in a new medium.  Let me know if you are itching to be involved in a pageant for a new age.

Much love,

Lauren

RE News — October 2020

Lauren Strauss, DRE

My dear friends,

I am looking back on the time since last I wrote my column – last June! And wondering at how the world has changed.  I’ve been easing myself into the idea of a year of online programming with our children and youth.  I dove in headlong back in March, but I did not at that time think that I’d be planning all our programming this year in this way.

Reimagining your whole world is hard – and energizing.  In the RE program, it means thinking about how best to serve families with children in different age categories.  It means realizing that different people respond differently to online programming, and so some of our kids and youth will find it difficult to experience classes online while others will find it comforting.  It means being willing to change course when something isn’t working.  It means stepping outside my personal comfort zone to find new ways to do things.  Sometimes it ends up being fun.  Sometimes it’s just plain scary.

I’ve spent a bunch of time contemplating the lessons I’m learning from a study group I’m attending for religious educators about the book Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown. This remarkable work has helped me remain flexible in reshaping my plans when things have changed rapidly around me, and has also given me the hope that because the world is always in flux, because change is the only reliable constant, we can ride the change to shape the world we envision rather than allowing it to shape us.  Author and activist brown incorporates systems from nature and ideas from the science fiction works of Octavia Butler.  She emphasizes connections, trust, focusing on small/local action.  Her real-life efforts as leaders of several organizations has proven her theory more than once.  I’m still processing and understanding and discovering this work, but I find it very exciting and I believe that it has implications not only for religious education for children, but also for our larger faith.

And that is compounded with a recent workshop I attended led by Paula Cole Jones, a lifelong UU who attends the congregation of All Souls in Washington DC. Two years ago in Spokane, Washington, Paula gave the Fahs Lecture (the lecture sponsored by LREDA, my professional organization at the 2019 UUA General Assembly.  The work she discussed in the workshop as well as in the Fahs Lecture was “Building a Community of Communities.”  Paula Cole Jones explains that churches need to stop trying to function as a ‘family’ with familial hierarchical structure in favor of building a Community of Communities – with each community within our church and our association holding equal weight and value, rather than there being a ‘dominant culture’ in which certain groups stand in the center while others are marginalized.  It’s a culture shift for sure, but it is a hopeful one – one in which we can wholeheartedly welcome and support everyone in our faith. 

I’m learning to be like water – to flow around obstacles, to shape myself to the new normal, to find the tiny openings that can be opened further and to let myself bypass the places where the walls are high.  Water is both soft and powerful. I remind myself of the power of water daily – and so did adrienne maree brown in Emergent Strategy. The ability to stay flexible and resilient is what’s going to get me through this year – and you too, I hope.

Religious Education classes are happening at noon on Sunday on Zoom, with a small group meeting at 4pm on Tuesdays, and a Sex Ed group (not really OWL, but replacing the latter half of OWL until we can meet in person again) on Sundays at 5pm.  Please feel free to contact me if you need anything from our RE community in this time.

Much love,

RE News June 2020

Lauren Strauss, DRE

Dear all,

I want to take an opportunity to remind you all that this Sunday is our Flower Communion, and that if you have a chance you could send a picture of yourself and/or your family with a flower for a slideshow that will be part of our service, and also that you should remember to bring a flower or flowers to the service this week.  I also want to remind you that the First Parish Band has been preparing not one but two musical numbers, featuring about 10 First Parish members & friends, and artfully produced by Tom Ostfeld.  This is a Sunday not to be missed, and although we staff will be around this summer more than perhaps usual, it is our last staff-led service until September.  The Worship Committee has been hard at work organizing lay-led services for you for most of July and August.  Religious Education classes will continue this summer but may be at a different time.

Today I had a strange experience.  I sat here at my desk, writing my monthly newsletter column, while attending and fully participating in my professional organization’s annual meeting at the same time.  I was able to do this because the whole meeting was online.  For me this is a blessing more than not, because it is usually held in person at General Assembly, during the days before GA, called Professional Days.  I was planning to go to GA this year in person, since it would have been in Providence, RI, but going to Professional Days is often just a bunch of extra: extra nights in a hotel, extra time away from my family, extra money from professional or personal funds… and so though I can vote remotely, this is the very first time I have attended, and I most likely wouldn’t have been there in person. I’ll attend Professional Days next week and then attend GA remotely. It’s a blessing as well as a sadness: I was looking forward to in-person hugs, to meeting folks in real life who I’ve only known online, and to spending some time in Providence.

Attending our faith’s General Assembly is one of the ways I affirm my faith.  I know we don’t always have a strong showing at GA, but since the meeting is virtual and the cost is only $150, I would love to recommend that people try to attend.  It’s not too late to join in the fun.  And even if you can’t attend the full conference, I hope you’ll attend Sunday morning worship at 10:00am EST on June 28. GA Worship Services are available at the livestream page daily, along with all the general sessions, Thursday’s Service of the Living Tradition (I suspect we will get to honor a certain retired minister that day!) and the Synergy Bridging service on Friday night, where we bridge and honor youth and young adults.

If you choose to register, you can also attend the Sophia Lyon Fahs Lecture, which is put on by LREDA, my professional organization, which features two experts on Indigenous peoples “Reflecting on Teachings about Indigenous Peoples.”  I am currently seeking clarity about the date of this lecture – one organization has it scheduled for Thursday and the other for Friday. Other offerings include Saturday night’s Ware Lecture, featuring syndicated columnist and author Naomi Klein.

And for the first time, I’m serving as a delegate – I just received my credentials.  You all may remember that First Parish sponsored a bill two years ago allowing Credentialed Religious Educators who are members in good standing of LREDA and serving a congregation to serve as delegates without taking a vote away from the congregation, just as ministers do. I’m sure that attending general plenary sessions doesn’t sound totally fascinating, but actually, watching the governance work of our faith in action is kind of geekily satisfying.  I believe that so far only one congregation member is attending GA as a delegate.  I heartily encourage you to step up to that role if you have the time and energy contact the church office or Sue Twombly if you’re interested.  Our congregation deserves its voice in our denomination.

So, my dears, see you around the internet, and maybe as things go forward we will even get to see each other ‘in 3-D’ as a member of the RE Committee eloquently put it.  Thank you all for your kind words to me about the Youth Service – and don’t forget to tell the youth too, because they were the ones who actually did most of the work.  Especial thanks to Rowan for his masterful editing skills on our skit.  Thank goodness for those who were born in this digital environment!

All my love,

Lauren

RE News — May 14, 2020

Lauren Strauss
Director of Religious Education

Dear friends,

Today I am thinking about grief and loss, and how we face it, together and with our children.

This thrice-blasted, cursed virus has robbed us of so much: church and school and time together and time in the sun, graduations and rituals and hugs.

Very soon we will be dealing with more loss.  Summer travel plans will be canceled, if they haven’t been already.  I am already grieving not being able to go to General Assembly in person, and although it isn’t official yet, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be at Ferry Beach for RE week this summer for the first time in ten years.  In some ways I still have my fingers stuck in my ears, my eyes squeezed tight, and I’m shouting “LALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” rather than look it in the face – but on another, deeper level, I’m starting the grieving process now, because that will help me recover from the loss more easily when it actually comes.  Though I suspect that, just as happened when we were told school was cancelled till the end of the year, even though I know it is coming, I will cry when it is official.

I’m not afraid to grieve this loss.  I don’t look forward to it, I don’t want to grieve it. I want to go to that sacred beach where I find my heart on the sands every summer. I want to sing the familiar songs and hug the people I only get to see once a year. I want to see the children and mark their growth, and celebrate bridging our Seniors and drum around the campfire.  Part of me feels if we don’t go this year, we may never go again.  My logical brain knows this isn’t true, but the unreasonable part of my spirit is afraid that this is the end of something forever.

I could shoulder on. I could pretend that the way to get through this is to be as normal as possible, and carry on doing what I can do every day to create normalcy and community in a world where we’re not allowed to be in the same place.

But that would be a mistake.  Right now, as we are rolling out of crisis mode and into dealing with a changed reality, it is time to stop and mourn my losses.  If I don’t, I can already sense that I’ll start to lose my joy in the good things, and my motivation to do the daily and weekly things that need doing.  Giving myself time to grieve will help me become more resilient and more able to adapt to upcoming changes. 

Children will need us now more than ever.  I suspect that many of us default to wanting to protect our kids from danger, unpleasantness, and death.  And to some extent, that’s right.  Kids don’t need us to fuel their fear or to hear information that is beyond their understanding at their developmental ages.  However, in this situation our kids are going to need to know some of what’s going on, and they are going to need to grieve their own losses. 

I’ve heard a few families mention that summer camp will be a big loss for some of our children and youth, and as I’ve already demonstrated, that resonates with me strongly.  For some, going to camp – whether it’s one of the youth camps at Ferry Beach or Star Island, or another camp – is intense and creates stronger friendship bonds and memories in a week or two than an entire school year or church year does at home.  Even children who don’t go to a beloved summer camp are going to start to realize that our summer activities will be greatly curtailed: no beach, perhaps; no parks; no picnics; no playing with friends.  It’s going to start feeling really long and hard, and we will have to give our kids a chance to grieve. 

If we don’t, they will anyway. Only, the grief will come out in unexpected and unhelpful ways. With younger children you may see an increase in tantrums; older kids may experience depression or anger.  These things happen in times of stress anyway, but if we leave our grief unacknowledged, it grows beyond our ability to bounce back.

We deal with grief and loss, not because they are pleasant, but because we wish to recover from them.  We want to grow our children’s resilience in the face of adversity, because resilient human beings are more likely to thrive.

In particular, I want to name the elephant in the room.  There’s more than a small chance that our congregation will experience the loss of a member or friend over the coming months.  None of us wants to frighten or sadden children with talk about death, but at the same time, death is a part of life.  Helping our children understand this in the abstract, by reading stories in which a character dies, or by talking about loved ones who died in the past, can help our children understand that death – and the sadness that comes with it – is natural and something we all experience in our lives. 

There are many resources for talking with children about death and grief.  Here is a list of a few.

From the UUA:
https://www.uua.org/sites/live-new.uua.org/files/documents/galginaitiscarol/familiesloss.pdf

A whole page of resources on parenting during the pandemic from the UUA:

https://www.uua.org/leadership/library/parenting-pandemic


A PDF guide can be downloaded from the following website that lists many resources and advice for helping kids cope with the pandemic.  Thanks to Roma Jerome for sharing it with me.
https://www.carneysandoe.com/blog-post/e-book-helping-kids-cope-with-coronavirus

The Religious Education Committee is committed to helping to fill the gaps for our children this spring and summer.  We’ll be talking about how we can continue our multigenerational worship times and RE gatherings and activities through the summer.  Please continue to let me know if you think of something we could be doing that we are not yet doing. 

I love all of you.  Thanks for sticking with this to the end. 

RE News — April 16, 2020

Lauren Strauss
Director of Religious Education

Dear friends,

It has been quite a month, hasn’t it? I’ve just finished my Annual Report – did you know that things happened before March in this church year? I was a little surprised to find I had more to talk about than quarantine! Outside, the inevitable signs of spring, from the asparagus spears starting to poke their little heads out of the earth, to the daffodils in full bloom across the street, remind me that despite everything, life and all the earth’s cycles continue.

I admit that while I am very much looking forward to in-person hugs and face-to-face, mask-free conversations, part of me finds the challenges of this quarantine invigorating.  I love the intimacy of our worship services – and I am surprised by this: I did not think I would find it as fulfilling to worship online as I do to worship in person. I like planning these services; I love to see the creative spirit that Charlyn and Guy have applied to our musical offerings; I find it really lovely to plan a service with Rev. Wendy for all ages every week, and be able to attend the full service.  I like finding and presenting stories that reflect and elaborate on each week’s message. People’s joys and sorrows move me.  I even enjoy trying to make the technology do the things I want it to do. 

And working with the children, youth, and parents via Zoom has been wonderful too.  On some days just one or two people have shown up for a group, and we have a lovely time getting to know each other and sharing stories.  I am in the midst of creating a tiny roleplaying game (RPG) for our children and youth to try out.  Clara helped me field test the first part today; I was planning on doing it on Thursdays but most of the older kids are doing schoolwork or classes during the week, so I’m seeing lots more people show up on Sundays than other days of the week.  This is great, by the way.  If my being there on Tuesday and Thursday for the kids, on Tuesday night for the parents, and on Wednesday afternoon for the youth is helpful to even one family, then it’s worth my time.  My goal is not to create more responsibilities and busyness for our families, but to meet their needs. 

In fact, if anyone would like me to host a group or individual chat at some other time, for you or your kids, please feel free to contact me at dre@fpwatertown.org and we can set something up.  

We’re in such strange times.  Things are changing rapidly, even daily.  In Framingham as of yesterday we must wear masks to enter any store, and over the recent weeks I’ve seen things go from everyone entering stores freely to waiting in line outside in order to enter, to directional aisles, and now masks.  We don’t know whether May 4 will see us slowly return to our daily lives or continued closures.  We don’t know when, or if, tragedy will strike our community, and I don’t know about you, but thinking about it too loudly makes me uncomfortable.  As things change, our children and youth are likely to experience times of acceptance and times of anguish.  Being small doesn’t mean you don’t grieve losses or feel anxiety over things that are beyond your control.  Sometimes it does mean you don’t have the words to talk about how you’re feeling.  I know even as a fairly articulate adult, I’ve been more weepy and crabby than usual, and I can’t always put my feelings into words.  We all need to be there for each other and for our kids.  We’re stronger in community, and our children sense that strength.

Please see below for planned RE meeting times.  I send out an email on Tuesdays with the Zoom link for these meetings, or you can contact me for information.

Love, and see you Sunday!