Something is shifting. Either out there or within me. I’m not quite sure. But I see babies and toddlers everywhere in UU-land. More babies and pregnant people and waiting people at UUA headquarters (in Boston) than any other time in our history. And here at the UU Ministers’ Association Institute, where I am reporting, there are glorious babies and toddlers interspersed throughout community. I believe this is a real, measurable, sign of health. We are becoming more whole.
During worship I had the opportunity to sit next to someone under 5. He turned pretzels into little trains. I shared bits of thread from my crocheting and he turned them into worms. It was delightful. This little teacher gave me a reality check.
That’s nice, but what I really want you to know is that this new friend of mine was in worship and listening. When people applauded by putting their hands in the air and shaking them, he asked what people were doing. His mother explained the sign (language) for applause and he enthusiastically joined in.
I leaned into his sweet chatter to discover that he was weaving in words from the sermon into his play. Every so often he asked his mom what a particular word meant. It occurred to me that this tot was listening more closely to the sermon than I was… He was absorbing the entire experience more profoundly than I was.
What would the Sunday experience be like if we threw out all preconceived notions of what worship ought to be like and had permission to start over? (Not all at once, but at a pace that is tolerable.) What would our Sunday experience look and sound like if we believed ourselves responsible for the brain-heart-spirit development of our people of all ages, cradle to grave?
Let’s go there.
Rev. Tandi Rogers keeps silly putty and other items to help wiggly hands during worship. She likes to share. Look for her at worship, no matter your age.
Last night, one of our assistant ministers did an event called Open Floor, which involved dancing and connecting with part of our bodies, such as feet (grounding was the main focus of the evening), knees, elbows, hands, head. My son, who is 30 now and on the autism spectrum with significant sensory integration disorder (especially lately), was there as I was hoping it would be helpful for him. He mostly walked amidst the dancers and once or twice I caught him doing some dancing hand movements. He was so in his own world and yet didn’t bump into a single person on the crowded open floor. Most everyone there was accepting and one or two people even tried to engage with him (pretty impossible for a first-time event). It was building my trust in the world to be around such folks, who didn’t even respond as he blew them off. We are all so amazing, in this world of ours, and I love to have a window to any moment such as you describe in this blog. Thank you!