A friend recently asked me if they could list me as their emergency contact for a medical procedure and I said yes, of course. This is not the first time someone has asked this of me. Though I don’t have kids of my own, I have been an emergency contact person at schools for many of my friends’ kids over the years. I’ve even been called to come pick up some of these kids on occasion when their parents had a misunderstanding about who was doing the pick up and were then not reachable for a period of time for whatever reason. When I would arrive, the kids would be relieved to see me and even delighted at this change of routine. And it was always okay, because the parents and the kids both had faith in me. That I would show up. That I would make sure they were safe. Our theme this month is Renewing Faith. Unitarian Universalism offers us opportunities to renew our faith all the time. We do not have a dogma that we encourage people to follow blindly. We are constantly renewing our relationships with each other, with our values, and with our faith. How wonderful it is that we are encouraged to question, to seek out information, and form our own opinions. We are constantly being invited to renew our faith in Unitarian Universalism, as well as our faith communities. We’ve had some really lovely family get-togethers this month, which has renewed my faith in this UU community. Here are some ideas from the Soulful Home packet from this month to encourage you all to explore the theme of Renewing Faith.
- Who can you really count on in your life, people who you know will be there for you no matter what?
- Who in your life makes you feel better about the world?
- What evidence do you see that the earth heals itself, given the chance?
- When’s the last time you said to yourself, “I can do this!”
- What’s something you would not have believed until you saw it for yourself, in person?
- What kinds of things help you to feel less discouraged?
- When you’re feeling bad about something, what usually makes you feel OK again? (For example, some people might just need a little time, some people need a rest or a reading break, others some cuddle time, etc.)
- What’s something you started, or tried, before you had any idea whether or not it would work?
- Has a friend ever let you down? What did you do to renew your faith in them?
Return to the Discussion Throughout the Week
Thoughts develop with time. Find opportunities to bring up particularly compelling questions again during the month, maybe on walks, rides home, when tucking your child into bed, etc. If thoughts grew or changed, notice together how we are all evolving beings, opening ourselves to new truths and understandings as we live our lives and connect with others.
Treasure Hunt for Renewing Faith
This month’s treasure hunt is a little family competition. You are all going to be looking for acts of kindness or helping, the kinds of interactions between people in your neighborhood that renew our faith in humanity’s goodness and potential.
Once a day, for a whole week, you’ll all come together and tell one another about this act of goodness that you observed. For each one, the family member gets a point. At the end of the week, the family member who was able to report the best acts, kind words, or helpful contributions that they observed others make…wins! (Of course, you don’t have to make this a competition. Competition is energizing and fun for some families, others not.)
You might keep track of your observations by each claiming a color, then dropping your color of glass pebbles into a jar or marking colored dots on a wall calendar. In making your search visible in your family all month, you will be able to reflect on all the many reasons you have for renewing your faith in your community’s potential.
Renewing Faith with Dogs: Pawsitivity and Supporting Black Veterans
The rhetorical question goes, “What did we do to deserve dogs?” The special bond that dogs offer to humans is an endless source of faith that there is goodness and love in the universe. There are many groups providing service dogs to people in need, among them, veterans who are disabled. Pawsitivity is a Minnesota-based organization whose mission includes a special commitment to diversity, and namely, “training service dogs for Black U.S. military veterans.” According to a 2014 study by the Veterans Administration, minority veterans are four times less likely to use veteran health benefits as compared to white veterans, meaning they are not getting the health and wellness services they are entitled to. Service dogs have been proven to improve mental, emotional, and physical health, and could improve the quality of life for Black veterans who want them.
The invitation: Consider donating to this organization, doing a special ask at your congregation for a church-wide contribution, or both. If there is a group in your area that supports Black veterans in other ways, call them and see what kind of support would be most impactful in your community.