There are a lot of ways to explore our theme this month – consider sharing some of these options with extended family while gathered for the upcoming holiday.

At the Table – Discussion Questions

  1. What’s the story of your birth? Is there something about your own birth that you’ve always wanted to know? (The questions that arise here may or may not be able to be answered; hold the questions in love if they remain a mystery even after being asked.)
  2. How many Thanksgivings back can you remember? **
  3. What’s the history of the home you live in? When was it built? What was the neighborhood like then?
  4. Who in the family is most likely to tell stories about the way things used to be?
  5. Which is your favorite old photo of yourself and/or your family?
  6. If you could go back in time and visit a historical event, which would it be?
  7. If you were to create a time capsule to tell people in the future about what our times were like, what would be the 5 most important things you would include?
  8. What are the favorite parts of the history of your pets? Do you remember first meeting them? What was it like to train them? 

Treasure Hunt for Holding History

This month’s treasure hunt sends us sleuthing around–in our neighborhoods, but also online, and in the memories of friends and neighbors. Don’t feel the need to proceed through this like a list. Rather, pick a few that feel sparkly and exciting to you, and delve into those. The treasures here will be both the process of discovery, and the stories that unfold!

  • What did the street you live on look like 50 or 60 years ago? *
  • Who lived in your home before your family?
  • Which would you guess to be the oldest tree in your neighborhood?
  • Who in your neighborhood lived through the Great Depression?
  • When did your UU group first begin to gather, or when did your congregation join the UUA, or when was your church building built?
  • Who were/are the original peoples of the land that you now call home? How might you acknowledge that?
  • What’s the history of how your town got its name?
  • What’s the history of how your town became a town?
  • What’s the oldest building in your town?
  • How much hotter is your hometown than when you were born? (check here)

November’s Mantra:

Breathing in, breathing out

The air we breathe is the same air our grandparents breathed, the same air that paleolithic people breathed, the same air that the very first trees breathed, the same air that the earth itself breathed when creating our precious atmosphere. Breathing is the first thing we do on the planet, and it will be the last. Breath is what marks our entrance and exit from this existence. 

For this month’s mantra, we turn not to centering words, but instead to an action: draw in, hold, and release the precious breath that connects us to all things that have ever lived, and that ever will. This is our molecular history, the one that makes up every atom of us.

At a quiet time of your choosing, set a five-minute timer on your phone or other device and focus only on the tiny circles of skin around each of your nostrils. Keep your awareness on those two, dime-sized spots, noticing the sensation. Words and phrases will doubtless come up as your mind tries to describe, qualify, and assess the situation. Let those words come and go, but don’t linger on them. Instead, come back to the simple experience of breathing in, breathing out. 

Set aside a regular time each day to practice this. You might keep the time limit at five minutes, or you might try to work up to longer meditations. A mind that is able to hold stillness, for five or 55 minutes is better able to act with clarity and integrity in trying times, a great boon to us as we navigate challenges both personally and collectively.