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The Program (Windows and Mirrors)

Mirrors in which they can see themselves,

windows in which they can see the world.

— Lucille Clifton, African American poet, writer and educator

Unitarian Universalism views our members' multiple perspectives as a blessing. In spirit, we embrace the contribution of diversity to our collective ability to pursue truth, fairness, justice and love. In practice, however, we often fail to embrace all the experiences and viewpoints in our communities as respectfully or as wholly as we might. Sometimes, we fail to even see differences among us. We seem most prone to gloss over differences when to acknowledge them requires acute self-examination and may lead to pain, shame, discomfort or guilt.

Windows and Mirrors nurtures children's ability to identify their own experiences and perspectives and to seek out, care about and respect those of others. The sessions unpack topics that lend themselves to diverse experiences and perspectives—for example, faith heritage, public service, anti-racism and prayer. The program teaches that there are always multiple viewpoints and everyone's viewpoint matters.

The metaphor of windows and mirrors represents the dynamic relationship among our awareness of self, our perceptions of others, and others' perceptions of us. Beginning in Session 2, an ongoing art activity gives children a way to respond to the metaphor creatively and concretely. Participants do guided work on individual Window/Mirror Panels in each session to explore looking inward and looking outward in terms of the session's topic. As a mirror, the panel reflects the individual child. As a window, it represents their view and connections beyond themselves to the congregation, other communities to which they belong and the world.

An important element of this program is to display participants' Window/Mirror Panels collectively. The group may want to discuss whether, and if so how, they want the congregation to view the panels. The exhibit serves the congregation as a window into each and all of the children's experiences and perspectives. It is also a testament to their learning. Although it is important that each participant complete a panel as an integral part of the program, it is equally important not to lose sight of the journey of each participant. The self-reflection and discussions are the heart of this program. The panels are the expression of each participant's self-discovery process.

Your plan for creating and exhibiting the Window/Mirror Panels will determine the arts and crafts materials you purchase for this entire program. See Before You Start in this Introduction for planning guidance.

Be mindful of visually impaired participants. While the Windows and Mirrors program is based on a visual metaphor, activities can generally be adapted to incorporate tactile and other senses. Using alternate ways of "looking" will help the whole group understand the metaphor more deeply.

Unitarian Universalism is a faith we live in community, acknowledging and acting on our responsibility toward one another. We encourage one another's search for truth and meaning. We affirm the interdependent web of which we are all a part. In Windows and Mirrors, children will learn that when we come together as Unitarian Universalists, we nurture our individual spirits and work to help heal the world; the two are inextricable.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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