There shall be
Eternal summer in the grateful heart. — Celia Thaxter, in the poem "A Grateful Heart" (1872)
IN TODAY'S SESSION... we learned about the sixth Unitarian Universalist Source, expressed in children's language as "the harmony of nature and the sacred circle of life." We heard a winter solstice story in which the sun has grown tired and the children re-energize the sun by expressing their gratitude for all the sun gives. The children experienced what it feels like in our bodies when we focus on what we hate, and then what it feels like to focus on things we are grateful for. Together we created a group poem to express our gratitude to the Earth. Finally, we practiced expressing our gratitude to one another in a gratitude circle.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Ask your child to tell you about the acrostic poem we created using the phrase "thank you." Talk with your child about the specific way we expressed gratitude during our gratitude circle. The guidelines we followed were:
- Be as specific as possible about what the person did that you are grateful for. For example, instead of saying, "Thank you for helping me," give more information such as, "Thank you for noticing I needed help when I was making my paper airplane and interrupting your own work to show me how to make the folds the right way." Or, instead of "You are a great friend," say, "I really appreciate that you are generous with me in sharing your toys and snacks."
- Tell how the person's actions impacted you. For example: "I was feeling really frustrated when I couldn't get the fold to work and after you showed me how to do it I felt really proud when I got it right!" Or, "I really wanted to play with your Transformer and I was really excited when you let me borrow it!"
Practice expressing appreciation using these guidelines. Talk together about how it feels when you do so.
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try...
A Family Adventure. To honor our connection with nature and what we learn from its harmony, set aside a few days to adjust your family's rhythms to the rhythms of nature. Wake up when it gets light. Go to sleep or do activities by candlelight when it gets dark.
Family Discovery. The book Circle Round: Raising Participants in Goddess Traditions, by Starhawk, Diane Baker, and Anne Hill, has many ideas for activities, stories, and songs that reflect the sixth Unitarian Universalist Source and teach about the harmony of nature and the sacred circle of life.
A Family Ritual. Set aside a time every day for sharing gratitude. Meal time or bed time can be especially good choices. Simply light a chalice and give each person an opportunity to name what they are thankful for. In addition, consider setting aside a time once a week for a family gratitude circle, in which you express gratitude for one another using the guidelines above.