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

Alternate Activity 1: Personal Chalices

Part of Spirit of Life

Activity time: 50 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Small terra cotta standard flower pots, no bigger than 5” in diameter
  • Terra cotta saucers, 2’’ larger in diameter than pots
  • Votive candles
  • Hot glue gun(s)
  • Water-based acrylic paints and plenty of small paint brushes
  • Paper plates or similar item to use as palettes
  • At least one or two aprons, smocks, or old t-shirts
  • Tablecloths or newspaper to protect work areas
  • Pencils and paper
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape (or a digital slide and projector)

Preparation for Activity

  • Make sure to allow yourself sufficient time in advance to obtain the flower pots, saucers, and candles for each participant.
  • Prepare and post a piece of newsprint (or digital slide) with these questions for reflection:
    • Where are you now spiritually? What spiritual gifts do you have at present and what challenges are you facing? What do you hope for spiritually?
    • How would you characterize your spiritual path or journey? Has this changed over the years?
    • Have the Spirit of Life workshops contributed to your spiritual development? If so, how? What else has contributed to your spiritual growth over the years?
  • Locate an electrical outlet where you can use the hot glue gun.
  • Cover work areas with tablecloth or newspaper to avoid paint stains.
  • Arrange materials in a central location.
  • Let participants know in advance that you will be painting today, so they can wear appropriate clothes. (Acrylic paints don't wash out of fabrics.)
  • If possible, think over some things you might include on your own chalice, and either make your own chalice in advance or draw some of your ideas on paper as an example for participants.

Description of Activity

Explain to participants that they will create personal chalices which will represent aspects of their spiritual lives. Invite participants to drawing/writing table(s) and begin by reflecting on personal spiritual experiences. Read aloud the reflection questions that you have posted.

Allow two minutes for quiet reflection, then distribute paper and pencils. Invite participants to take five minutes to draw in response to one or more of these questions. Explain to participants that drawings can be as abstract or representational as they like, and can include words.

After five minutes, explain the chalice project. If you have made your own chalice or drawing in advance, show it now. If you have not made a chalice as an example, demonstrate how a flower pot upside down with a right side up saucer on top can create a chalice shape. Use these or similar words of explanation:

You are invited to plan some designs, pictures, or words to include on your personal chalice. You may wish to depict aspects of your spirituality or spiritual journey and things that have influenced you spiritually. After you have decided what to include on your chalice, place the saucer upside down on the table, center the flower pot base on it,and trace around the pot with a pencil so as to indicate to yourself the area which should remain free of paint. Then, decorate the flower pot and saucer using acrylic paint. After the painting is done, use the hot glue to attach the saucer to the flower pot.

Suggest that in addition to the reflection questions posed before, participants might consider depicting one or more of the following:

  • The nature of their spiritual paths
  • Times of day or year, holidays, or a specific time or occasion that they have found particularly meaningful or spiritual
  • Special places, memories, or people
  • The nature of their spiritual experience, either in general or on a specific occasion
  • Values they hold that are connected to their spirituality
  • A word or words that are important to them spiritually
  • Ideas that are important to them spiritually.

Invite participants to collect their flower pot, saucer, and paintbrushes and begin painting as soon as they are ready. Explain that they will have a half hour to do this project.

When all participants have assembled their chalices, distribute a candle to each participant and invite participants to place them inside their chalices. Invite several participants to share briefly with the group something they represented on their chalice. Thank participants for sharing and invite them to place their chalices in a designated area so they can dry during the rest of the workshop.

Close by pointing out that these chalices can serve as a reminder of the spiritual growth participants have experienced through the Spirit of Life workshops as well as a new ritual object for participants' future spiritual lives.