Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Recorded sound effects and other sounds, and appropriate media player
- Tool of the Day - a listening tool
- Optional: Large sea shells for "hearing the ocean"
- Chalice candle or LED/battery-operated candle
- Lighter and extinguisher, if needed
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
- Optional: Toolbox of Our Faith poster, clear tape, and a small or symbolic listening tool (such as a small sea shell, disposable audio headphones, or a picture of a stethoscope)
Preparation for Activity
- Print the opening words on newsprint and post where it is visible in the Council Circle space.
- Obtain sound effects recordings and recordings of bird songs, Halloween sounds, animal noises, and musical instruments. Public libraries are good sources. Speak with a librarian. If you have the time and the technology, make your own CD or computer music file of sounds.
- Begin playing recorded sounds. Bring the Tool of the Day into the Council Circle space, along with large sea shells if you have brought some.
Description of Activity
Gather the children in a circle, in your Council Circle space. Light the chalice.
Introduce the Tool of the Day and the theme, listening. Help participants connect the meaning of listening to the development of a strong Unitarian Universalist faith.
Ask the group to listen silently to the recording and try to identify the sounds they hear. After a few moments of silence, invite comments.
Turn the recording off, or down. Indicate where the opening words are posted, and lead the group in reciting:
We are Unitarian Universalists
with minds that think,
hearts that love,
and hands that are ready to serve.
Introduce the Tool of the Day as a listening tool, and invite participants to share their experiences. Pass the listening tool around the circle, along with large sea shells if you have brought them. Invite participants to use the tool. For example, if it is a stethoscope, invite them to listen to one another's heartbeats. (Note: Make sure you know the proper use of the Tool of the Day. Making loud noises into a stethoscope can damage the device.)
Ask, "What do you think makes this a Unitarian Universalist tool?" Allow participants to share ideas. Affirm that there truly is no one answer, and then offer the explanation that the listening tool represents the skill of listening, which is part of every Principle that guides Unitarian Universalism. You may say:
We need to know how to listen, because by listening, we show that we understand the dignity and worth of each person. If we don't listen to someone, we are not respecting their worth or dignity. We need to know how to listen to act with justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. If we do not listen to other's experience of injustice, we will not be able to seek justice. We need to know how to listen to search for truth and meaning, because no one person can find truth or meaning all by themselves. We need to know how to listen to use the democratic process, because in a democracy, everyone should have a voice. We need to know how to listen to seek world community, because different people around the world will not understand each other if they do not listen to each other.
We need to know how to listen to be a part of the interdependent web of all existence, and that means we have to listen not only to people, but to all the plants and animals and air and water in nature. We need to listen to what nature tells us about the health of our planet.
This is a key part of growing in faith and deepening in religious understanding. Listening is recognized in every faith tradition as a source of wisdom and compassion.
Invite a participant to tape a symbolic stand-in for a listening tool (a small sea shell, disposable audio headphones), or a picture of one, to the Toolbox of Our Faith poster. Write "Listening" on the poster.
Collect the listening tool(s). Extinguish the chalice.
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