Director of Ethical Education Blog
Summer is winding down and kids all over Northern Virginia have returned to school. That means that NOVES Sunday School Classes will be resuming soon too! Sunday, September 8th is our first Platform of the 2019/2020 School Year. WE HOPE YOU CAN JOIN US!
If you are new to the Northern Virginia Ethical Society or you haven’t visited in awhile, you may be wondering what kids do on Sunday morning? Our mission as a school community is to promote ethical behavior through educational experiences, including and social activism, so that students will become good world citizens. Children are in the main room for opening words, music and a Story For All Ages. Then the Sunday School heads to the classrooms to begin their lessons.
This year, younger children will be taking a class Called “Everyday is Earth Day”. This class uses experiments, crafts and hands-on activities to teach that every day is a day to think about taking care of our Earth. In this class children learn about conserving energy, how all creatures serve a purpose on Earth, reducing & recycling, and the frailty of ecosystems.
Students in 5th grade and up will be taking a 2 part class that hopes to educate them to make informed and reasonable decisions called “Media Literacy/Ethical Conundrums”. Our pre-teens are exposed to all kinds of messages coming from media outlets, advertisers and peers. This class helps them become more able to analyze the veracity of those messages, as well as the intentions of the creators of the messages. It also gives them a chance to discuss and role play how they would ethically handle a difficult situation involving peer pressure and social media.
In addition to classes, we undertake one group service project per month. This year, we will be learning about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in conjunction with our service projects. These Service Lessons aim to teach our children how to recognize and differentiate levels of need. We can only “act so as the elicit the best in others” by taking the time to meet an individual at their level of emotional development. Children will get to participate in 5 projects that exemplify the 5 individual levels of the Needs Pyramid. We will be making lunches for the Embry Rucker Homeless Shelter, Trick or Treating for our Troops thru Operation Gratitude, raising money to fund a school in Africa thru the sale of hand drawn class valentines, and collecting old markers for Crayola Recycling from now until Earth Day We are also expanding our service program to include a monthly volunteer Sunday School Clean Up Crew. Students will be responsible for platform breakdown, cleanup and trash removal on the last platform of every month.
I also have plans to get our creative juices flowing again this year! The NOVES Puppeteers will be performing Stone Soup at The Stone Salad festival in November. And the students will be performing some musical selections for the society again on Darwin Day in February.
I hope that you are all as excited about the upcoming year as I am. Our children learn invaluable skills and lessons at NOVES. And they build strong friendships and supportive peer groups. If you have any questions about our Ethical Education here at Northern Virginia Ethical Society, please contact me at DEE@noves.org and I will be happy to assist you.
SEE YOU SUNDAY!
To tackle this challenge I added something new to Service Sundays, a theme! This year I chose the theme of Gratitude. Prior to executing each monthly service project, I taught the kids a mini-gratitude lesson. Just a quick 5 minutes where students learned to be on the lookout for the 3 components of gratitude. The message is that once we learn to recognize gratitude and what it feels like to be grateful, we can begin to work at practicing gratitude thru our own words and actions. Ultimately, we can pay forward the feeling of gratitude thru our service to others. During my platform talk on March, 17th, I went over the service projects to date and their concurrent gratitude lessons in great detail. And I also discussed the scientific research regarding how gratitude can make you healthier happier and improve the quality and length of your life.
If you were unable to attend the talk, you can access the full video here: Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude
As a culmination to my mini Gratitude lessons for the kids and my platform talk on Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude, I collaborated on an Art of Giving Workshop with Allison Gallagher of Touching Heart. Mrs. Gallagher is the outreach director for this local non-profit organization. She gave us a platform talk about real needs in our community and encouraged us to enable our youth to come up with creative solutions to these social problems. After her talk, everyone got involved in assembling fleece blankets for Fairfax Foster Care. I will post pictures of our finished donations on our Facebook page.
This school year is almost over and we only have 2 Service Sundays left. I've already been thinking about what next years theme will be. And I wondered, "how can I teach our kids to know WHAT makes service effective?" I've decided that next year we will study Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Another motto of Ethical Culture is to "Act so as to bring out the best in others, and therby yourself" But in order to act in a way that impacts the recipient, you must be in tune with what their actual needs are. By studying the pyramid of needs, we can learn to be deliberate in our choices. What is best for us, may not be best for everyone. We can learn to discern the right balance between bringing out the best in another and expecting them to join us on our same level of the need pyramid. Each month we will study one of the 5 levels of need and execute a concurrent service project: physiological needs, safety needs, belonging & love needs, esteem needs and self-actualization. I will be taking Mrs. Gallagher's advice and asking our fearless and intelligent kids to come up creative solutions to social problems in each need category. I look forward to sharing our progress with you.
The calendar year may have come to an end, but our school year is in full swing! Since NOVES reconvened in September, our Sunday School teachers have been tackling the daunting task of teaching the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in just a few short months. In the New Year, our curriculum will focus on the Dharmic religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. These religions share the same three foundational doctrines: 1 - the Karma principle, 2 - Re-birth or Reincarnations and 3 - Nirvana. The Sunday School team has set a goal to tour 6 different Houses of Worship this year as part of our curriculum and we are on track to meet that goal!
Our first tour was of the Temple Beth Torah in Chantilly, VA. We learned about what young Jewish children do in Sunday school to prepare for their coming of age ceremony at age 13. We listened as the Cantor led them in singing their prayers in Hebrew and we even joined in. We got to hear them blow the Shofar, view the ceremonial Torah and ask the Rabbi questions. He made a clear parallel between Judasim’s and Ethical Culture’s values when he explained that being Jewish means not focusing on the afterlife or any future rewards. The only thing that really matters is that you do good work in this life on Earth.
Our Second Tour was of a local Mosque called the ADAMS Center in Sterling, VA. Our guide talked to us about what it means to identify as a Muslim in America and filled us in on the multitude of community services that the ADAMS Center provides. They offer mental health services, food assistance, Sunday school, tutoring, career training, and interfaith initiatives throughout the Metro area. All of their funding comes from their members and they do not receive any funds from foreign countries. We toured their 3-story building replete with administration offices, a large worship area, a gymnasium, classrooms, community meeting rooms and bathrooms with ceremonial foot washing stations. Young Muslim children are taught the ideology of Islam in Sunday School including how to read Quranic Arabic. They stressed a shared value with Ethical Culture in their desire to serve their community by working cooperatively with people of all faiths toward the common good.
We invited the entire Society to join us on our third House of Worship tour. We reserved 35 seats at a Holy Eucharist at the National Cathedral. On the last Sunday of Advent, we were allowed to explore and photograph the beautiful carvings, stained glass and Neo-Gothic architecture of the second largest church building in the United States. We were treated to the cathedral choirs, congregational hymns, a sermon, scripture readings and an opportunity to partake in communion. They even allowed 3 NOVES children to carry the water and wine to the priests to be blessed. It was a great opportunity to see the ritual and sacraments of Christianity. The National Cathedral is a true treasure. In addition to carvings representing the many faces of America, the main hall flies the flag of every state, and the chapel is filled with needlepoint pillows sewn in honor of numerous American heroes, presidents, scientists and artists. Not to be forgotten is the spectacular Moon Window. Sealed between tempered glass in an inert nitrogen environment is a 2 3/8” piece of basalt collected on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. It is the only moon rock given by NASA to a non-governmental institution. I encourage you to stop by the next time you are sightseeing in NW DC.
Our littlest NOVES members are busy in the Holiday and Holy Days class learning about the Abrahamic religions too. They began the year with lessons on the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and the late harvest festival of Sukkot. The learned about Islam as they studied Mawlid Al Nabi, better know as Muhammed’s birthday. And they dove into Christianity during the Christmas season discussing many holiday traditions like the Sundays of Advent, including St. Lucy’s day. St. Lucy was a 3rd century martyr who wore a wreath lit with candles on her head as she filled her arms with food and supplies for the persecuted Christians hiding in the catacombs. These children even have a head start on the Dharmic religions because they already covered Dasara and Diwali, Hindu holidays that fall in late Autumn. One thing that is similar about all of the holy days observed as the Winter Solstice approaches is the celebration of light and the comfort of family and fellowship. I think that it is easy see the commonality they share with our own Ethical Culture Winter Festival to be held next week. I look forward to enjoying the comfort of your fellowship on Sunday!
Please take a moment to view the House of Worship Tours photo album that I have created on our Facebook page to see all the wonderful experiences I have described above. And stay tuned to my blog for an update at the end of the year on the final 3 tours and the Spring holidays we have covered in class.
What do Ethical Culturalists believe? What do they teach their children? “Ethical Humanism, also called Ethical Culture, is an evolving body of ideas that inspires Ethical Societies. Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity. For Ethical Humanists, the ultimate religious questions are not about the existence of gods or an afterlife, but rather, ‘How can we create meaningfulness in this life?’ and ‘How should we treat each other?’ Ethical Culture is clear about the essential role that ethical principles play in human relationships. In order for human beings to have good lives, love must prevail, truth must be respected, honesty esteemed, justice secured and freedom protected. Learning how to realize these ideals in our lives is the purpose of Ethical Societies” *
The Comparative Religion class is about to begin the 1st of several House of Worship Tours on November 11th at 11 am at Temple Beth Torah in Chantilly, VA. Your Sunday School Team wanted to schedule a special event to reiterate our 12 Core Ethical Values and our expectations of the student’s behavior and respectful demeanor on these tours. We want our students to act as ambassadors of Ethical Culture and its core values as they are welcomed as guests into other local religious communities. To accomplish this goal, we decided to ask our leader, Randy Best, to meet with the children to deliver this message. This special class took place on October 21st and we had 14 students in attendance. One of the most important core values of Ethical Culture is to treat others fairly and kindly and it is especially important when interacting with those who are different from us. Specifically to "act so as to elicit the best in others and thereby ourselves" Felix Adler. As Randy stated in the class, this is a universal moral philosophy that is shared by all world religions and ethical philosophies.
Christianity: All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them Matthew 7:1
Confucianism: Do not do to others what you would not like yourself Analects 12:2
Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful Udana-Varga 5,1
Hinduism: This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you Mahabharata 5,1517
Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself Sunnah
Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. Talmud, Shabbat 3id
Taoism: Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain and loss as your loss Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien
Zoroastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5
With the numerous hate crimes in the news just this past week, it is more important than ever to be vigilant about raising kind, considerate, tolerant, fair and open-minded children. Children, who know that it is their inherent right to question the world around them and to choose what they believe. Young adults, who will continue the work of creating a world full of peace and justice. Teens, who will cherish the Earth and all life upon it. Future leaders, who will learn from all of the unique individuals that cross their path and from world history to create a better future for us all. Young adults, who will strive to live out their Ethical Culture Values and accept responsibility for their choices and actions.
Ethical Humanism is a religion of relationships. Ethical Sunday School allows children “of all ages to engage in ethical concepts and experiences that promote lifelong ethical development.” Our goal this year is to foster relationships within the diverse Northern Virginia Religious Community. To give our children an opportunity to learn about different theologies and meet real people who practice these faiths, with an emphasis on what we have in common instead of that which divides us.
Join us on Sunday and we can undertake this goal together!
*taken from www.AEU.org
The NoVES Sunday School now has 1 month under their belts. Attendance and participation have been very high! Students have already had 2 classes this month and are focusing on the Abrahamic religions and Jewish holidays. Children have also participated in a collaborative art piece that helped kick off the year and facilitate getting to know one another better. We have undertaken our 1st Service Project of the school year and have solicited sock donations for our 2nd Service Project, a National Sock Drive called Socktober.
On our first Sunday back to Sunday School, we undertook a joint creative effort to make a visual art piece for the society. This puzzle mural was displayed at platform for the 1st time this past Sunday, September 30th . This year's mural theme was “Individually Unique....Together Complete”. It endeavors to illustrate how even though we are all unique individuals that have different interests, strengths and hobbies, we are stronger and more beautiful when we join together and collaborate. Collectively, we can make a difference! Our Sunday School Teaching Team had already created their personal puzzle pieces at our Summer Teacher Orientation Meeting. They used their puzzle pieces as a way to introduce themselves to their new students. Did you know that our teachers this year are artists, crafters, jokesters, conservationists and science fiction buffs? The students enthusiastically worked on their respective puzzle pieces, staying in the classroom long past dismissal time to make their pieces perfect. Please check out the mural photos on our Facebook page or attend our upcoming workshop or some of our Annual Festivals to see the mural in person. Ask a child or a teacher to show you their piece and to tell you what it says about their unique personality!
In addition to the unveiling of the mural this past Sunday, the students also performed a choral piece entitled “You Gotta Be” by Des'Ree. They have been practicing diligently before Sunday School Classes and at home. It was a “bucket-filling” performance exclaimed our guest speaker, Rachel Bailey! The children showed a lot of courage and dedication to this task and if you get a chance, be sure to fill their buckets with some well deserved praise for a job well done!
I have planned to teach our Sunday School students some mini Gratitude Lessons prior to the first few Service Projects of the year. This is in an effort to demonstrate to our students about WHY we perform acts of service and HOW we choose whom to serve in our communities. Our first Mini Lesson and Service Project were both carried out on September 23rd and it was a huge success! Donated materials and stamps were used to make cards for use by our Caring Committee throughout the year. So keep your eyes peeled Society Members, because little envelopes filled with a child's imagination and heartfelt wishes may be coming to a mailbox near you!
The first month back to school has exceeded my expectations! I could not be happier with the students, our teaching team, the support of the Society and our class content. It is going to be a great year at the Northern Virginia Ethical Society. It's never too late to join us in seeking to create a more humane world together. Contact me at DEE@noves.org to enroll your student in our program today or to schedule a visit on Sunday!
The last wave of Northern Virginia students will go back to school this week. I always look forward to the start of a new school year. New teachers, new haircuts, new friends, new ideas, and new chances! Don't get me wrong, I love sleeping in, swimming and traveling all Summer. But as the Summer comes to an end, I am always glad to see the return to a stable routine. There's something soothing about the rhythms of routine in our daily lives. And the highlight of my weekly routine is attending the Northern Virginia Ethical Society on Sundays for fellowship with other Ethical Humanist families. Our school year for NOVES begins Sunday, September 9th at 11:00 am. I hope that your family can join us this year!
The NOVES Sunday School Team of teachers and committees have been meeting throughout July and August to prepare an excellent year for our youngest freethinkers! We have 2 levels of curriculum that will address World Religion: Holidays and Holy Days (a hands-on craft based curriculum for ages 3-9) and Comparative Religion (a philosophical class partnered with tours to the following houses of worship: Jewish, Hindu, Coptic Christian, Sikh, Ba'hai, & Muslim) In my opinion, no other curriculum is as important for developing a peaceful worldview for our children than this one. How better to put into practice the values that we aspire to teach here at the Ethical Society than by studying the variety of philosophical opinions and the myriad of belief systems that different world cultures practice in their daily lives. Some of the ethical values that this curriculum will highlight are as follows:
“I am free to choose what I believe”
“I am free to question”
“Every person is important & unique”
“I can learn from everyone”
“Every person deserves to be treated fairly and kindly”
“I am a member of the world community which depends on cooperation of all people for peace & justice”
The only way we can really “strive to live these values” is to make connections with people who are different from us. To ask with an open heart to learn about a way of life or belief system different from our own. By educating our children (and ourselves) on the many different types of world regions, we become more connected to one another in our world community, able to thrive on what we have in common as human beings, instead of being divided by what we do not.
In addition to our blockbuster curriculum this year, we will undertake at least one service project per month. The plan I have laid out for this year's service projects really gets the kids involved in variety of charitable activities. Our kids will help to serve the Ethical Society by making cards for use by our own NOVES Caring Committee, dipping ice cream on Darwin Day, and performing music and puppet shows during platforms and festivals. They will help to serve our environment by holding a Wands for Wildlife drive and cleaning up a local stream. They will serve other children by trick-or-treating for Socktober, creating blankets for the foster care system and raising money for Kakenya's Dream – a girls school in Africa. Our Charities Committee graciously coordinates some of the congregation's weekly Sharing of Responsibility collections with our Sunday School Service Projects. By adding a monetary contribution to the children's labor, we can make an even greater impact to the organization we have chosen to support. On behalf of the Sunday School, I'd like to thank the members and visitors to the Northern Virginia Ethical Society that donate to the charity of the week. Your generosity helps to support the children's charitable endeavors.
One final thing that I want to let you know about our upcoming year is that we are planning some speakers and workshops that will support YOU as parents of these freethinking kids. While your children are growing and learning in Sunday School class, it is important that you are receiving support and tools for how to raise these intelligent, empathetic, kind and fair future leaders. Resilient children who will greet the world with open hearts and open minds and leave a legacy of ethical impact for future generations to come. Please check out the plethora of events, platforms and workshops that will be offered this year. Content is constantly being added and can be found in our weekly newsletter, on our web page, on our Facebook page and sent to Sunday School parents via email reminders throughout the year from yours truly!
I hope you are as excited about the NOVES Sunday School this year as I am. If you are a parent of a returning student, you are already registered for Sunday School this year and we will see your smiling faces on September 9th. If you are interested in visiting us on a Sunday to see what we are all about and join in on the fun, email me at DEE@noves.org to let me know to be on the lookout for you.
Here's to a great year, great friends and great fellowship!
The NOVES year has come to an end and we are on Summer Break until September. Our last Sunday, June 17th , was Recognition Sunday. The excellent Sunday School teachers and Sunday School committee members were thanked for their service to the NOVES kids this year. They had to work very hard without a DEE for 5 months and they deserve our gratitude! The children present on June 17th gathered on the playground for an informal outdoor origami session and said goodbye to their classmates for the Summer.
Our last Service Project was executed on Sunday June 10th . The book read that Sunday was a story about a tiny spy who called herself “006 and a Bit”. The story was written by Kes Gray and described some of the things required to be a successful secret spy. The children then gathered in the main classroom and I played “Try a Little Kindness” by Glen Campbell on guitar. I asked them think about how we could combine kindness with being spies as we watched a video by the Kid President. In the video he describes how easy it is to change the world by spreading kindness. He says, “If one person is filled with love and they live it out then it will go on and on and on. The world is changed by ordinary people, Little people living out Big Love”. What a great message! You can view the video here: https://youtu.be/4z7gDsSKUmU
Now that I had them thinking, I assigned them their SUMMER UNDERCOVER SECRET KINDNESS MISSION. The idea is that over the Summer Break, they will be in the Secret Service and their Mission (should they choose to accept it!) is to serve others without being asked and without their knowledge. When each mission is completed, they are to leave a Secret Service Calling Card and track their progress on their Mission Sheet. When we gather back together in September, we will share stories of our successful undercover missions with the other Sunday School SPIES!
To kick off the spirit of performing Random Acts of Kindness, we did 2 clandestine missions together before class was dismissed. First, we left some Clorox Wipes as gifts to the 2 teachers whose classrooms we have used all year. All the students signed the White Boards like a big Thank You card. Then we crawled under the windows to the auditorium and snuck out into the parking lot. Once there, we left sunny yellow and white flowers all over the cars of the society members with a tag that that read “Please enjoy this Random Act of Kindness. Now its your turn to pay it forward, do something kind and leave this card behind” If you received a flower and decided to pay it forward in some way, please share that with me so that I can inform the children of how the love they chose to live out is going on and on and on!
Remember, “ the world is changed by ordinary people, Little people living out Big Love”. So give out Big Love all Summer long and make the world a better place for all of us! See you in the Fall!
This Sunday, the children learned about the Kindness Rocks Project. The concept is simple, to cultivate connections within communities and lift others up through simple acts of kindness. Rocks with positive messages are left for others to find, because one message at the right time can change your whole outlook. You can learn more about the project here: https://www.thekindnessrocksproject.com/
We began the day by reading the book, “What Does it Mean to Be Kind” by Rana DiOrio which described many ways to show unexpected kindness to others. The children then shared examples of when they did something kind for someone else in their own lives. We watched a video describing the Kindness Rocks Project and then kids got busy painting!
There was plenty of enthusiasm on behalf of the kids for this Service Project and resultantly, the students painted many rocks each. We all took a walk together to the Green Hedges Sensory Garden where there is a pond already surrounded by brightly painted rocks. We hid some of our rocks there, hoping it may brighten the day of the students who attend school at Green Hedges. We are so very appreciative that they rent us the use of their space for our school!
Please check the corresponding Facebook post for pictures of this exciting project! And please, consider painting your own rocks to hide for others to find!
Yesterday, I delivered my first Sunday platform address at NOVES entitled, “The Children Are Our Future”. I shared my ideas on how we can raise a generation of children that will make this world a better place and stand up for what they believe is right. I personally came to the Ethical Society to be inspired and educated on ways that I can live a more ethical life. To be reminded weekly of how to model the kind of behavior I want my children to exhibit in their own lives. I’m really honored to have the opportunity and the platform that comes along with being your DEE. The ability to plan classes, schedule activities, arrange acts of service and foster an environment where we can all grow in body and spirit. Where we learn to lift each other up. Where we stand up for others and the causes we believe in. Where we practice our Ethical Values in our every day lives.
I started by thanking our hardworking and patient teachers. Our teachers make certain that their lessons reinforce our beliefs and that the ideas they present keep our Ethical Core Values as their primary focus. And I thanked our awesome NOVES Sunday School Committee, who have kept the Sunday School going without a DEE for 6 months. They made sure the program was jam-packed with great activities, staffed by excellent teachers and organized administratively, to ensure that our kids received the best Sunday School experience possible.
Our Sunday school program puts exemplifying our Ethical Core Values at the forefront of our curriculum. Our classes this year have been focused on LIFE: where life begins, how life is created and what makes life is sustainable. Next year, our focus is going to be on WORLD RELIGIONS. How better to put into practice the values that we aspire to teach here at the Ethical Society than by studying the variety of philosophical opinions held around the globe and the myriad of belief systems that different world cultures practice in their daily lives. We endeavor to honor the diversity of cultural traditions and the commonality of the human condition. I further explained that our Children's Story Committee supports our Sunday School efforts by picking books that take the general message of that Sunday’s adult platform topic and putting it in a simpler format that the children can more easily relate to and understand. They also try to respect diversity and be cognizant of representing all races, religions, and a variety of protagonists in the stories they choose to present.
My own children are in the program and it’s very important to me that they observe me practicing what I preach about Ethical Culture's motto of “Deed Before Creed”. It is in this spirit that I am planning to add some new and different service projects to our repertoire next year. Our children are involved in at least one act of service every month and I have decided to focus on charities that directly affect our children's peers – other children in our community.
“We learn empathy through our service to one another because empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.” Alfred Adler
In conclusion, I came to NOVES because I was looking to be a part of a community that stood for something greater than themselves, greater than a sense of winning, greater than fanaticism. A place where I could join like-minded individuals in work that betters our world. I am proud to put my energy into activities that aspire to make the world a better place for our future generations, for my children's generation. Because I truly believe that the children are our future. Because I truly believe that we are what we repeatedly do. We have the collective power to raise intelligent, empathetic, kind and fair future leaders, who will greet the world with open hearts and open minds and leave a legacy of ethical impact for future generations to come.
Several members approached me after my talk to volunteer their time and their talent to contribute to the the overall success of the Sunday School. I will be in touch and I will attempt to utilize everything you have offered! Thank you all for your continued support!
The Children Are Our Future, lets continue to pave the way for them to make a difference.
“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results”
I am in possession of an artist's heart. I find it hard to even get dressed in the morning without expressing my individuality and mood thru my outfit choice. I arrange the food on my plate as if it were a painting and parent like a sculptor, trying to mold the raw clay into a something beautiful and unique. My favorite medium is fiber. I will weave yarn into clothing, reeds into baskets, and guitar strings into melodies. As I sat in attendance at the Spring Festival this weekend, my mind kept thinking of the word INTERCONNECTION. Everything that I was observing reminded me of Herman Melville's quote that states our lives are all connected and what energy we send out into the world comes back to us. The energy at Sunday's Spring Festival could not have been more positive. The theme was CREATIVITY and our society connects us with many talented members who exhibited their creative spirit for everyone to enjoy.
Several individuals displayed their art and spoke of its personal significance. It takes courage to get in front of a crowd and share something so deeply personal. But with great risk comes great reward and we all grow closer to one other in the moments when we are vulnerable. When we are willing to dance, sing, speak, read and share in front of a crowd. Our society is filled with wonderful people who could not be more supportive and encouraging towards our members young and old who are willing to put themselves out there. Our society connects us to people who will join together to show fellowship and acceptance to one another.
Our unique geographical location affords us the opportunity to make a wide impact with our good deeds. Spring Festival marked the culmination of a Youth-led Conservation Service Project. We raffled off the milkweed seeds that were planted and nurtured by our Sunday School students over the past 3 weeks. The Sunday School learned in class about how we are interconnected to our environment. They discussed what is causing the decimation of pollinating insects and how its effects will be felt at our kitchen tables when we no longer have certain foods available to eat. Six lucky winners were able to take home a milkweed seedling from the festival to plant in their yard in order to assist in habitat restoration for our insect pollinators. Because our members live across several states in the Mid-Atlantic region, our conservation efforts can reach far and wide. Our society connects us to people who share our passion for taking care of our planet and all of its inhabitants.
Tradition also weaves our lives together. And Sunday's March of the Turtles and Snails was a prime example of this. Children in the Special Places class are taught a hands-on curriculum that explores basic needs, comfort, homes, and community. The class is taught through stories and the building of various homes. One of those homes are the shells of turtles and snails and the children get very excited about building their own cardboard shells and performing a small skit for the society. Especially touching this year was that two graduates of the Sunday School program were in attendance and shared their own happy memories of when they took this class and marched across the stage to Raffi's song “Slow Day”. Our society connects us to people who help us mark the passage of time thru the traditions we share.
This society connects us and I am so blessed to be a member of a diverse group of individuals that come together for fellowship, social action, community and expression.
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