The law of heaven is love. – Hosea Ballou
IN TODAY'S SESSION... We focused on early Universalist preacher Hosea Ballou as an example of someone in history who translated Unitarian Universalist beliefs into faithful action. The children learned about the first Unitarian Universalist Principle, which states that we affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of all people. We heard the story "Muddy Children," which tells how Universalist Hosea Ballou experienced unconditional love in his family when, as a child, he had difficulty refraining from playing in mud. This childhood experience informed Ballou's preaching and theology, which emphasized love and universal salvation. We also created gift catchers with affirmations to remind us that we are all loved and endowed with inherent worth and dignity. Our signpost to help guide us in faithful action was "Respect Everyone."
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about... As Unitarian Universalists, we want to treat every person in a way that shows we believe they have inherent worth and dignity – as if they are important. Discuss ways the members of your family show respect for one another and for other people. You may wish to play a game where one person suggests the name of someone you all know – the postal delivery person, an adult family friend, a teacher, one of your child's friends and all contribute ways you show that person you consider them important and worthy of respect.
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try... Pay extra attention to times when your child shows respect for other people through acts of kindness and consideration. Point out instances of your child acting faithfully, that is, in a way that reflects the Principle of inherent worth and dignity. Your child will have the opportunity to share these actions with the Faithful Journeys group next time we meet.
Put on your play clothes and go play together in the mud or do something else that is messy – preferably something that at other times may be forbidden. When you are done, wash up and talk about the fact that when we get dirty we can clean ourselves up again. It's the same when we make mistakes. When we do something wrong we can "clean" ourselves by apologizing, trying to repair any damages we've done, and trying harder to do things differently in the future.
A FAMILY RITUAL
Make it a daily ritual to express your unconditional love to your child. You might say, "I love you always and forever, no matter what." Be sure to say this even (or especially) when you have been angry at your child. You can say, "I am still angry at you, but that doesn't change the fact that I love you always and forever, no matter what."
A FAMILY GAME
Play the game "Darling, If You Love Me, Won't You Please, Please Smile?" To play, one person asks another person this question. Without smiling at any point, the second person has to answer, "Darling, I am terribly sorry. I will love you forever but I just can't smile." The first person can attempt to get the second person to smile or laugh by making funny faces, telling jokes, or using other methods that don't involve physical contact. If the second person does not smile or laugh, they win. If you are playing this as a small group and the second person smiles before finishing the complete statement above, they become "it" and must now ask someone else the question while trying to elicit a smile.
Watch the Disney movie Lilo and Stitch together, and discuss the Hawaiian concept of ohana, or family, that it portrays. Talk about the ways Stitch makes trouble and yet is still loved in a family where no one gets left behind or forgotten.