The theme this month is Opening to Joy. In a time when it seems to be increasingly hard to find moments of joy, how can we do this? I am learning right along with our kids this month, that sometimes you have to look for it, but often it will just sneak up on you. So far this week, the most joyous moment that I’ve had was when we opened the doors to RE Commons on Sunday morning and our littlest UU’s started coming in the door. We made sure to put on name tags, since it had been so long since we’d all been together. We had kids that had missed coming to church, kids that don’t remember coming to church because they were so little when we shut down, and kids that have been with us virtually for a while now, but who were attending in person church for the first time. Though I was prepared with a plan and supplies, I wasn’t prepared for the wave of emotion that brought happy tears to my face when the kids started coming in and getting settled. It was a beautiful reminder of why we do this work and of the community that we hold sacred. – Kim Collins

Need some suggestions for how to find joy this month? Check out these ideas from Soulful Home:

Discussion Questions

  1. Which meal, when you hear you’re having it, brings a huge smile to your face?
  2. Have you seen a pet or neighborhood animal feel joy? What does it look like?
  3. Where do you feel joy in your body?
  4. What’s the best thing about this month?
  5. Who do you know who is always smiling?
  6. Is there ever a time that you don’t want to feel joyful?
  7. What’s your favorite joke?
  8. Have your parents ever told you the story of the joyful day you came into the family?
  9. On a scale of 1 to 10, how joyful do you feel this moment? If joyful isn’t the right word, what is?
  10. Would you rather make someone laugh, or help them find a solution to their problem?

Treasure Hunt for Opening to Joy

Opening is a wonderful metaphor for understanding the northern hemisphere’s longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice. Astrologically speaking, we get as far away from our star as we ever will, and then we turn around and get closer again, opening our whole planet to the year ahead. So, for this month’s treasure hunt, we’ll be on the search for things that open. To increase the challenge level, choose one, confined area of your neighborhood–such as a park, or the block, or even your church grounds–to find these items.

  • Clouds opening to let the sun through
  • An opening in a tree where an animal might be living
  • An open book sitting out on a table
  • An open window somewhere other than your home
  • A sign, ad, or flyer for an open mic night at a local cafe, coffee shop, library, university, etc.
  • A lit-up vacancy sign (or if you don’t live in an area where there might be older motels or hotels, a lit-up open sign)
  • An open gate
  • A sidewalk that has been “opened up” because someone just shoveled off the snow, or because construction was completed
  • A storm drain opening
  • A “We’re Open!” sign

Opening to Black Joy

Black Joy is so many things; this excellent, nine-minute video from The Root called “Black and Jubilant: Unpacking Black Joy from the Revolutionary to the Ordinary,” says that “Black joy is exactly what its intended audience needs it to be.” Understanding Black Joy is a crucial aspect of North American cultural competency, for it is only as people who are free to feel and express the fullness of all aspects of humanity that we will be able to create a just future together.

Watch the video, then discuss together as a family where you see Black Joy in your community. What groups and organizations are making those joyful experiences possible? It may be that your local library held an excellent speaker series featuring Black authors and artists. It may be the church down the street whose creche display includes beautiful (and historically accurate!) Black and brown faces. It may be a Black sorority or fraternity from the local college whose dedicated volunteerism inspires other groups to do the same. Whatever that organization is, find a way to support them, because they are doing good and needed work!