Tapestry of Faith: Spirit of Life: An Adult Program on Unitarian Universalist Spirituality

Alternate Activity 1: Song of the Open Road

Part of Spirit of Life

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Copies of the Unitarian Universalist hymnbook Singing the Living Tradition
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Paper for drawing or writing
  • Drawing and writing implements, such as pencils, color pencils, markers, crayons
  • Bell
  • Clock, watch, or timer that shows seconds
  • Optional: Easel for displaying newsprint with questions

Preparation for Activity

  • Make sure each participant will have a seat at a table where they can write or draw.
  • Place paper and drawing/writing implements on a common table or within your own reach for distribution to all participants.
  • Review Reading 645 in Singing the Living Tradition, "Song of the Open Road" by Walt Whitman. You may wish to practice reading it aloud.
  • Prepare a s heet of newsprint with the reflection questions: "How has your understanding of truth and belief changed through the years?" and "What does spiritual freedom mean to you?"

Description of Activity

Distribute hymnbooks and lead the group in Reading 645, "Song of the Open Road" by Walt Whitman. You may choose to switch parts with the group in reading it a second time. Ask the group to start the reading with the non-italicized text, and the co-facilitator(s) will answer by reading the italicized text.

Invite participants to call out lines, words, or phrases from the poem that feel significant to them. Direct participants' attention to the reflection questions you have posted. Read both questions aloud.

Allow one or two minutes of shared silence. Then, indicate or distribute the paper and drawing/writing implements. Invite participants to write or draw their responses. Let the group know that they will have eight minutes for reflecting and responding on paper. You may suggest that participants list words or memories, create a poem, write their thoughts in prose, or draw abstractly or realistically.

After eight minutes, ring the bell and invite participants to return their attention to the whole group.

Invite participants to form pairs. Encourage them to partner with someone they do not know well. If you have an odd number of participants, form one triad.

Offer these instructions:

In your pairs, you are invited to discuss the experiences you spent time recalling and writing about. You can share whatever is comfortable. If you recalled things that you would rather keep private, that is fine. Each person will have two minutes to talk and to listen. When it is your turn to listen, just listen-listening can be a spiritual practice in and of itself. I will ring the bell when it is time to switch roles.

Watch the time. Ring the bell at two minutes and again at four minutes to conclude the sharing. If you have a triad, let these participants know verbally at about one-and-a-half minutes and two-and-a-half minutes that they should switch speakers.

Lead the whole group in discussion with these questions:

  • What was it like to reflect on how your understandings have changed throughout the years? What are some of the ways that your understandings have changed?
  • I'm curious to hear from a few people what spiritual freedom means to them, because I imagine we have many different perspectives on that question within this group.
  • What was it like to hear from your partner about the ways their understandings have changed as they've traveled through life? Did their experiences resonate with yours? Did you notice generational differences?
  • What would you like to carry with you from this experience?

Including All Participants

Welcome participants who do not wish to or are not able to write or draw to sit comfortably and contemplate in silence. While the objective of this activity is spiritual reflection and expression, neither a specific product nor its quality matter. Invite participants to engage in the form of creativity that most awakens their spirituality in this moment.