We see in the world around us many symbols that teach us the meaning of life. You could notice if you wanted to, but you are usually too busy. We Indians live in a world of symbols and images where the spiritual and the commonplace are one. – John Fire/Lame Deer and Richard Erodes in the book Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions
IN TODAY’S SESSION…
We explored together what a symbol is, and experienced ritual involving two symbols of our Unitarian Universalist faith: the flaming chalice and the song “Spirit of Life.” We created faith symbols of our own, and danced to “Spirit of Life” as ways of deepening our connection with our UU faith home.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about…
This week our class expanded our discussion of home by talking about symbols of our faith home. But our homes themselves can be symbols of what is important to us. As a family, look around your house and ask “What does our home say about us and what we like? What would someone looking at our house think was important to our family?”
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try…
A Family Game
Symbols for everyone! To play a fun game involving symbols, have your family sit in a circle. Each person should come up with a gesture to symbolize themselves. This gesture might represent something they like to do, a personal value such as kindness or a personal characteristic such as long hair. Once everyone has created a symbol, have one person begin by doing his/her symbol and then the symbol of another family member. The person “named” by their symbolic gesture does their symbol and then another person’s, etc. Try to keep the game going as quickly and smoothly as possible, moving from one person’s gesture to the next.
A Family Ritual
Faith home meets family home. Try a week of evening rituals related to chalice-lighting. You can use a chalice, a candle, an LED/battery-operated chalice light, or the stained glass chalice your child made in this session. Use any words you like as a blessing as you light the chalice. You may like to use these words, which your child heard during the chalice-making activity:
The chalice is a symbol of the Unitarian Universalist tradition. It is a symbol for love, freedom, community, and light.
You may wish to help your child light the chalice themselves.
Include some discussion each evening about the roles faith and your faith home play in your family life. Here are some questions you may use. There is one for each day:
Day 1 – What is our faith home and why do we attend there?
Day 2 – How is our faith home connected to our family home?
Day 3 –Where do we see circles in the world? What do the circles mean?
Day 4 – Why is the flaming chalice a symbol of our faith home?
Day 5 – What might be a personal faith symbol for each of us?
Day 6 – How can we, as Unitarian Universalists, make a difference in the world?
Day 7 – Where do we learn the most about our faith community?
The flaming chalice. For an account of the Unitarian Service Committee’s creation of the flaming chalice symbol during World War II, read the story, “Circles of Light,” adapted from a story in A Lamp in Every Corner: A Unitarian Universalist Storybook by Janeen K. Grohsmeyer (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 2004). A religious educator in Maryland, Grohsmeyer offers 21 stories in her book that communicate about Unitarian Universalism in a lively way for learners of all ages, along with suggestions for the novice storyteller.
A pamphlet by Dan Hotchkiss, available from the Unitarian Universalist Association online bookstore, tells the history of the flaming chalice symbol.