The touchstones theme in June is TRANSCENDENCE
Inspiration for UU parents:
The theme of transcendence is also related to Transcendentalism, an important influence in 19th century Unitarianism. The Transcendentalists sought knowledge that transcends the senses since it is acquired through intuition and imagination. Particularly important was nature as a source of knowledge. The following is by Jane E. Rosecrans. She writes:
…”In nature, the Transcendentalists saw the presence of the divine. In his journal, Henry David Thoreau wrote, ‘My profession is always to be on the alert to find God in nature, to know his lurking places, to attend all the oratories, the operas in nature’. To watch for, describe, all the divine features …in Nature.’
…”In his essay Nature, Emerson depicts nature in this way: ‘The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm, is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right.’
“For the Transcendentalists, the appreciation of nature meant being in and being with nature. As a spiritual practice, this relationship, this interactivity between human beings and nature may take many forms…. It may mean spending time in natural environments, outside of and separate from our life at work, or appreciating the plants, animals, and all sentient beings that surround us, even in a bustling city. In his essay ‘Walking,’ Thoreau suggests the purpose of time spent walking in nature as this: ‘I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit.’”
A good resource about Transcendentalist spirituality is The Roots of Unitarian Universalist Spirituality in New England Transcendentalism by Rev. Barry Andrews at http://transcendentalistspirituality.com/roots-of-unitarian-universalist-spirituality-in-new-england-transcendentalism/
From the Touchstones REACH journal, June 2019
A story to read together this week:
We Got Here Together, by Kim Stafford, illustrated by Debra Frasier, published by Harcourt Brace in 1994. Copyright 1994 by Kim Stafford.
Extend the topic together:
Transcendence ideas from Tapestry of Faith curriculum, Love Will Guide Us, session 2, Awesome Love.
“Awesome” can suggest the transcendence of life and how nature’s wonders sometimes strike us. Consider using the word “awesome” as you share moments of awe with your child. You might ask:
- Did anything awesome and wonderful happen today? Something that took you by surprise and made you glad?
- Are you ever just amazed at how leaves come out on a tree every spring? Do you think that’s awesome? (Of course, you may get a very practical and scientific response to this.)
A Family Game. Play “I Spy” outdoors: One player says “I spy, with my little eye, something… (say the color of the item you are looking at).”. The others guess the item. If you live in an urban setting, go to a park and try to spy items from nature as well as human-made items. If you have a backyard, try to spy items that are not usually noticed, such as a small bird—even a squirrel, a nut, or something else seen so constantly that you may take it for granted. Perhaps try to find a nest or a small hole in the ground that might be used as a burrow for a small animal. Use this game to promote awareness of awesome nature around us.
A Family Ritual. If you do not already do so, light a chalice (which can be as simple as a votive glass) before your family dinner. Use simple words to set a theme for each meal. “Give thanks and praises” (Bob Marley) is a good example. Or, have children write their own.
Let me know if I can be supportive to you in any other way! I am here for you.
All my best with blessings,