Happy Pride Month



June is Pride Month, and all around the world there are Pride Parades and celebrations. And, after the shooting in Orlando, it’s even more important for our children and youth to have positive stories lifted up. Celebrate Pride Month with these resources:

My List of Pride Month Picture Books

Advocate’s list of 21 LGBT books every kid should read

Advice from True Colors in the wake of Orlando

Our March Theme and Living Seasonally

In the classroom religious education at OUUC this month the theme is Rhythms. We will be focusing on how indigenous traditions and paganism connect to the natural rhythms such as the seasons, the moon, even the tides.  March is a wonderful time to talk about the seasons, as the Spring Equinox marks the turning of one season to another and we can celebrate the arrival of spring.

“Living Seasonally” is becoming a popular concept, especially when it comes to food.  Eating food as it is in season instead of shipping strawberries around the world so we can enjoy them in December is an environmentally-friendly choice, saving the fuel and the climate impact of all that transport.  But it has another value, because the strawberry season in June is so much sweeter and more precious when it is a once-a-year experience than when we can have a strawberry any old time.

One of my favorite verses from the Bible is Ecclesiastes 3:1 (famously turned into a song by Pete Seeger and covered by The Byrds):

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

There is a time for everything, not just for foods, but for everything.  The value of living seasonally is that you attune your life to what is the right thing to be doing right now.  As a life-coach once told me, “you can do almost everything you want and need to do, but honey you can’t do it all right now.”  A seasonal to-do list, a weekly routine, and a daily rhythm are all helpful in managing the never-ending tasks of life.  Nature shows us how this works, and connecting to these rhythms feels deeply right to me as spiritual practice. Doing so connects us to the natural world and the interdependent web of life all around us.

Look to the natural rhythms around you.  What is this season for you?  What activities are the right ones for this season?  There is a time for everything, but not everything is right for this time. Asking these questions of yourself can help you find your own natural rhythms.

May the blessings of this season be yours.

The Platinum Rule

The story behind Valentine’s Day tells us of a tyrannical Roman Emperor who didn’t want his soldiers to marry and have families, and of a priest who defied the Emperor and performed weddings anyway. For that, he was killed, and became first a martyr and then a saint – Saint Valentine.

There are many Saint Days and many stories of the saint’s lives, so just why did this particular one catch on and become such a secular holiday phenomenon? While some people despise the holiday, there is no denying Valentine’s Day has traction in our culture.

I think the reason we celebrate is that Love is so central to our human lives, and whether we experience romantic love or not we have still at some point loved and been loved or have felt the longing for more love. Love experienced or Love wished for, but Love is clearly a quality or experience that humans desire. I would go farther and say that we need it, in some form or other. Babies who are not held sicken and even die, and humans kept in solitary confinement find the lack of human contact unbearable. We need connection to others.

A major turning point in my own ability to put more Love out into the world came from reading The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. There are now multiple spin-off versions, including The Five Love Languages of Children. What made the book a turning point for me is the message that different people express and experience love in different ways, so differently in fact that you may be “saying” I Love You through actions that make sense to you in your language, and the other will be experiencing a lack of love because it’s not being “heard” in their language.

I suddenly had a lightening realization that expecting the rest of the world to conform to my emotional experience of reality was unrealistic. I know – duh! – but it was an important realization for me. I could not just “do unto others as I would have them do unto me”, because that Golden Rule (as lovely as it is) still presumes that I can use myself as the measuring stick for “normal”. Using what has been called “The Platinum Rule”, Treat Others the Way They Would Like to Be Treated, instead has made a world of difference in my interpersonal relationships and in how I am able to extend unconditional love to others.

The trick, however, is that you need to know what makes you feel loved (and how to ask for that) and you need to know how to ask other people what they want and practice deeper understanding of others.

So in this month that the stores are full of chocolates and cards, why not take a little time to ponder these two questions: “What makes me feel loved?” and “How can I use the platinum rule more in my interactions with others?”.

Picture Book Advent For UU Children

One cool idea for Advent that I have seen is to wrap a picture book for each day of advent, then the kids get to unwrap it and you all read it together.  This made me think that there are so many books to choose from – which are the best ones for a UU type Advent?  One that takes into account the other winter holidays and our UU values?

I had fun sifting through all my favorites, and some that were new to me.  In the end, there were good books I left off this list (but that just leaves me room to do another list next year!).  Here you go:

Picture Book Advent For UU Kids

Nov 30th:       Over the River and Through the Woods by Lydia Maria Child (multiple versions available)

Dec. 1st:         Jingle Bells: How the Holiday Classic Came to Be by John Harris and Adam Gustavson

Dec. 2nd:        How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

Dec. 3rd:         Bear Stays Up For Christmas by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

Dec. 4th:         The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren

Dec. 5th:         The Legend of St. Nicholas by Demi

Dec. 6th:         The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale by by Aaron Shephard and Wendy Edelson

Dec. 7th:         Zen and Bodhi’s Snowy Day by Gina Bates Brown and and Sarah Jane Hinder

Dec. 8th:         Buddha by Demi

Dec. 9th:         Becoming Buddha by Whitney Steward and Sally Rippen

Dec. 10th:      For Every Child by Caroline Castle and John Burningham

Dec. 11th:      The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston and Barbara Cooney

Dec. 12th:      Gifts of the Heart by Patricia Polacco

Dec. 13th:      Lucia, Saint of Light by Katherine Bolger Hyde

Dec. 14th:      The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert and Per Breiehagen

Dec. 15th:      The Message of the Birds by Kate Westerlund and Feridun Oral

Dec. 16th:      Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko

Dec. 17th:      Light the Lights by Margaret Moorman

Dec. 18th:      The Tree of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco

Dec. 19th:      A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Brett Helquist

Dec. 20th:      A Solstice Tree for Jenny by Karen Shragg and Heidi Schwabacher

Dec. 21st:       The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer and Jesse Reisch

Dec. 22nd:      The Return of the Light by Carolyn McVickar Edwards

Dec. 23rd:      The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie de Paolo

Dec. 24th:      Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck and Mark Buehner

This work made possible by the support of the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Please consider donating at www.ouuc.org, or if you will buy some of these books we have an Amazon Widget to support OUUC.