Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: What Moves Us: A Unitarian Universalist Theology Program for Adults

Activity 1: Experiences of a Change of Heart

Part of What Moves Us

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Participant journals
  • Variety of writing and drawing implements

Preparation for Activity

  • If participants may need journals, obtain notebooks with unlined pages. Gather a variety of writing and drawing implements.

Description of Activity

Introduce the workshop using these or similar words:

Can Thandeka's Unitarian Universalist Theology of Personal Experience help us understand why we "almost universally," as the Commission On Appraisal 2005 Report Engaging Our Theological Diversity noted, make personal experience a major source of our religious convictions as Unitarian Universalists? Does her theology help us explain our ability to affirm persons rather than creeds and, in this way, to love others beyond belief? And finally, does her theology help us track how we can feel loved beyond belief during our Sunday morning worship services and our small group ministry programs?

Tell the group you will lead a three-part exercise to help participants answer these questions in ways that are personally relevant and meaningful. Read the prompt for each part, and then allow two minutes for reflection and writing before moving on to the next part.

Part I

Recall an occasion when you were able to create a shift in emotional mood from downcast to uplifted-even if only for a few hours-through an experience such as listening to music; watching a movie, play, or sporting event; or undertaking some other entertaining adventure.

Part II

Recall and describe in writing the ways you knew that your emotional state was shifting and then positively altered. What did the shift feel like? Did you, for example, feel warmer or cooler? Did you stop sweating or crying? Did your pulse rate noticeably slow down? Did you begin to smile or laugh? Be as precise as possible about the ways in which you discerned that your internal emotional mood was indeed shifting and then in the end, had shifted in a positive and uplifting manner.

Part III

Thandeka calls the uplifting shift in your emotional life a change of heart. Would you describe your experience as a change of heart? If so, why? If not, explain why and then give your own experience of a positive shift in your emotional state a name that makes sense to you. If you have given your experience of emotional uplift a different name, substitute this name for the term Thandeka uses-"change of heart"-to describe the first of three elements she spotlights as the content of what personal experience means for us as a major source of our Unitarian Universalist religious convictions.