Welcome to the Month of Wonder

“Were the sun to rise but once a year, we would all cry out…How glorious!  Our hymns would rise up, our thanks would ascend. O God…Give us new eyes… and vision to see the world anew.”   – A Jewish Prayer Book

This month our Soul Matters, Creativity Matters and UU Writer’s groups we will be exploring experiences of wonder. Being curious when we engage others, experience nature, delve into history and go about our daily lives deepens our awareness of the mystery, resilience and beauty that surrounds us.

A few questions to explore this month:
How has wonder changed as you’ve gotten older? What do you know now about wonder that you didn’t when you were younger? Has age impeded or assisted your experience of wonder?

What childhood book served as a doorway into wonder for you? How does its imprint on you remain? 


How has the location of wonder changed for you over time? Has it shifted from the stars to the woods? From the birth of planets to the birth of your child? From the physical feats your body allowed to the storied wrinkles of your hand? 

When was the last time you stood in wonder at yourself?               

This video captures moments of wonder. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNVPalNZD_I

After viewing the video, what moments of wonder in your life come to mind?

Below are a two photographs I took during a walk in my neighborhood that elicited wonder….

How will you experience Wonder this month?

Our theme this month is Wonder. What do we mean when we talk about wonder in a UU faith setting? Teresa from Soul Matters said it beautifully in this months theme packet: 

“As Unitarian Universalists, we sometimes talk about being a people of wonder, but it’s worth more of our attention, because as a spiritual value, it brings us much closer to the faith movement we want to be. To wonder, we have to be open-hearted and open-minded. To wonder, we have to question. We have to get beyond our cultural conditioning. We have to disregard the easy explanations and simplistic binaries. We have to remind one another that we do not know all there is to know. This is the work of a people of liberal religion. And lucky are we who share our lives with children and youth, for wonder is much closer to the surface for many of them. “

Here are some suggestions for ways to explore Wonder with your families.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is something you’ve wondered about the person or people you’re with, but never had the occasion to ask? 
  2. What do you wonder about your own birth? 
  3. What do you wonder about your own death?
  4. What sound is most wonderful to you? What feeling on your skin? What taste? What smell?
  5. What do you think happens all around your home in the middle of the night? What creatures come out? What does the air smell like? Who among your neighbors may still be awake? (Take a special night this month to quench this wondering with a late-night, star-watching date to learn what you can learn!)
  6. What is something about winter that you think is wonderful, but your family and friends just do not get at all? Or maybe it’s reversed, and you’re the one who’s mystified by others’ love of winter?
  7. What movie do you first remember as filling you with wonder? Maybe a fantasy movie, a nature documentary, or an incredible biopic?
  8. What do you think is wonderful about being a much older person, like your grandparents or grandfriends?
  1. Wonder sometimes feels like goosebumps, and sometimes brings tears to our eyes, and sometimes makes our thoughts buzz a million miles a minute. What does wonder feel like in your body?
  2. What wonderful things do you want to do or experience when you are older?

Playing Games with Wonder

Option A: I wonder what that is? DIY Pictionary

This popular board game may already be familiar to you, but here are some instructions for playing it without having to purchase anything. All you’ll need are drawing materials, pencils and paper or dry erase markers and small white boards.

We’ve created a wonder-themed Soulful Home word bank below to get you started making your own cards. To add your own words, it might help to think in the Pictionary categories: actions, people, places, and objects.

  • Fly
  • Surprise
  • Stare
  • Create
  • Glow
  • Transform
  • Connect
  • Mountain climbing
  • Dancing
  • Constellation
  • Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
  • The Grand Canyon
  • Unicorn
  • Fossil
  • Lightning bug / Firefly
  • Tidal wave
  • Crystal
  • Mirabel Madrigal (from the movie Encanto)
  • Maui (from the movie Moana)

Option B:  Hide and Seek

When was the last time you played hide and seek in your own space? When children are very young, and their hiding places are adorably obvious, or else given away by constant giggling and peeking, we sometimes walk around saying in an exaggerated manner, “Hmmm, I wonder where my child could be?” We’re recapturing that spirit by playing a few rounds of hide and seek in a familiar space. Maybe that space is our Soulful Home, maybe it’s the church building during an evening gathering, or maybe it’s a neighborhood park. 

Option C: Stringing Things

December is a month of garlands: cranberries, popcorn, twinkly lights, paper chain snowflakes, etc. Surprise a family member by having them come home to a house whose walls and ceilings are adorned with these and other wonderful things. You might include a home zipline across a room with some string or smooth ribbon, a paperclip or candy cane, and a favorite action figure or small toy dressed up for the season. These are the kinds of decorations that are meant to be played with, so have fun!

Moments of Wonder, or Things We Still Can’t Explain

Our Soul Matters Sharing Circle for the month of Wonder includes a 31-day playlist of awe-inspiring short videos. Preview a few that catch your eye, and then choose your favorite. Ask your conversation partner to do the same. Share your choices with one another and tell what it was that really spoke to you. 

I hope that you will join us for our wonder filled Christmas Eve services! The 4 pm service will full of joy and the wonder of what comes next and the 8 pm service will offer opportunities for wonder and reflection with music and candlelight.

Justice Ministry Film Night-Tribal Justice

Friday, December 9, 7 PM Zoom Only
ABOUT THE FILM

Tribal Justice is a feature documentary about a little known, under-reported but effective criminal justice reform movement in America: the efforts of tribal courts to create alternative justice systems based on their traditions. In California, the state with the largest number of Indian people and tribes, two formidable Native American women are among those leading the way: Abby Abinanti, Chief Judge of the Yurok Tribe on the northwest coast, and Claudette White, Chief Judge of the Quechan Tribes.
The two courts featured in this film are Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts. These courts, which are recognized by the federal government as providing an alternative to criminal prosecution, combine alcohol and drug treatment with traditional healing resources to restore both the individual and the community.

 Note: This film will be shown on Zoom only.   If you wish to view the film, request a link from Charlie WussowThere will be a discussion after the screening of the film                    There is no charge for viewing the film          

Book Study with the Revs

Join Revs. Cathy and Claudia for an opportunity to discuss novels (and an anthology) that invite us into covenanted, deep listening conversations about challenging issues. We will meet at noon in Sandburg Hall (bring a bagged lunch) or join us via Zoom (link in the e-News) at 7:00 PM.

When? Thursday, Dec 1, 
What? 
 “Embracing Discomfort” Book Study: There There by Tommy Orange

Future meetings

Jan 5                Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed, edited by Saraciea J. Fennell

March 2           Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

May 4              On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel by Ocean Vuong (tentative book)

Justice Ministry Update: What is the status of the RJAC recommendations?

What has been happening with the recommendations from the Racial Justice Advisory Council – RJAC? They are not collecting electronic dust!
The board has approved the recommendations and identified stakeholders responsible for making each of them happen. The Justice Ministry Council has been charged to be an accountability partner so that the recommendations are fulfilled. Currently, the top recommendations being worked on are
1. Education about the 8th Principle in preparation for the vote to adopt the 8th Principle at the June 2023 Congregational Meeting.
Stakeholder: 8th Principle Team and congregation. Please participate in the 8th Principle Learning Circles being offered by the various groups and committees of the congregation. Of course, that means lay leaders have said “yes” to hosting them. We need all of us to make this happen!
2. Identifying a consultant to provide an Equity Audit of our policies, procedures and governance model. This will apparently be the first time a UU congregation has such an audit. Yeah, UU Asheville!
Stakeholder: The board has asked board member Mary Alm and Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Justice Ministry lead, to identify, interview and recommend consultants who will provide proposals for board consideration.

Racial Justice Advisory Council (RJAC) Report: What’s that?
We strive to become a radically inclusive and welcoming congregation as we are called to do if UUism is to be the liberatory faith it can be. This work started with an internal assessment led by a board-appointed small team of congregants working in partnership with our Minister of Faith Development, Rev. Claudia Jiménez. Their learnings and recommendations known as the RJAC Report were shared with the congregation and the board. One of the top recommendations was to engage the congregation in learning about the proposed 8th Principle which aligns with the work of liberation. The 8th Principle Team was formed and is actively hosting Learning Circles, tabling on Sundays and exploring other ways to prepare the congregation to vote in the June congregational meeting to adopt the 8th Principle. They are creating space for all to discuss hope, fears and dreams as we consider this important vote.

The Proposed 8th Principle:

“We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”

WHAT IS BELOVED COMMUNITY?

Beloved Community happens when people of diverse racial, ethnic, educational, class, gender, abilities, sexual orientation backgrounds/identities come together in an interdependent relationship of love, mutual respect, and care that seeks to realize justice within the community and in the broader world.