The theme this month is DELIGHT. What a wonderful theme as summer hits and we are surrounded by natural delights. I hope that some of you have some extra time in the next few months to seek out and pay attention to delight.

I feel pretty lucky to have a delight detective in my house right now. Gili, who is almost 16 months old, manages to take delight in so manyBaby with lilacs things, from flowers ("lilas!" - see picture), to the neighborhood cats, to toes, peekaboo, and bubbles (just to name a few). She manages to notice so many things that I take for granted and then to experience delight with every cell of her body.

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like a reflection packet with spiritual practices, quotes, and questions on the topic of delight.

Questions to Consider

  • What brings you delight?
  • What season do you find the most delightful? Why?
  • What delights you in nature?
  • Why is delight important?

Delight Activities

  • Try to notice a delight everyday. Share them at dinner or with friends.
  • Take a picture of something that delights you for a period of time. Make a collage or slideshow with the photos.
  • Write a poem that lists things that delight you.
  • Do something delightful: blow bubbles, swing, build something with cushions or Legos, swim, or cover yourself with sand (thanks, Gili).

I think of creativity as an important daily practice for my mental and spiritual wellbeing. I try to draw or journal everyday to have the opportunity to shut off my thinking, judging mind, and let something else entirely take over and lead.

There are people of all ages in our USNF community that amaze me with their creativity. We are lucky to have so many artists, poets, andParlor Gallery writers in our midst, as well as activists with creative solutions! The kids astound me with what they create and the solutions they suggest and their ability to see things in new and unique ways. There are a lot of opportunities to celebrate creativity this month.

Janet had a great idea to use the Parlor as a gallery space and Steve Kramer has kindly donated the hardware that we need to have regular exhibits in our Parlor. Steve's nature photographs will be our first show. If you would like to share your art in the Parlor, send me an email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We will also be hosting the Family Diversity Project's newest exhibit: Authentic Selves - Celebrating Trans and Nonbinary People and Their Families. The photos from this exhibit will be on display in the Great Hall in May, including during Pride weekend and for our May 7 multigenerational service celebrating identities. We are looking forward to honoring and affirming peoples' identities. It seems so imperative to support all gender identities as allies and advocates right now.

Another manifestation of creativity in our community is members of the congregation who are working together to propose amendments to the Article 2 Proposal, suggesting changes to the Unitarian Universalist Principles and Sources.

Have you noticed this pink petunia that miraculously sprouted in a crack between our building and the driveway on the right side of thePink flower in building crack building? I can't even begin to think where the seed came from, sandwiched between two large buildings. How did it manage to push through stone and asphalt to grow? But there it is - this healthy, beautiful plant. What a powerful reminder that change is possible and can even be beautiful!

In our community, we have the opportunity to comfort each other through changes and encourage one another to spiritual growth.

Here are some questions to explore about change as a family:

  • Share changes you have noticed in each other.
  • What has changed you?
  • How have you changed?
  • What change would you like to see in the world?

Change Project: Think about something in your community or in the world that you would like to change and decide how you might help make that change together.

Art Project: Make a leaf collage as a reminder of how beautiful change can be!

Congratulations to our Youth Group for their worship service on "comfort" on March 26! The service was both moving and comforting. In case you missed it, you can watch it here: March 26 Youth Group Service and re-read the sermonettes here: Youth Group Sermonettes.

Four times a year, we offer care packages for families with activities, crafts, community service projects, UU rituals, and discussionCare package with seeds, journals, etc prompts.  The spring care package is available now, at the entrance to the Great Hall and downstairs in the classrooms. This care package offers opportunities for your family to celebrate spring together, enjoy meaningful time outside, and learn more about UUism. You will find a bird box, a magnifying glass, seed starting supplies, and a notebook which you can use as a nature or gardening journal.

The themes for this season are vulnerability, resistance, and creativity. We hope that they will spark some interesting conversations. There are discussion prompts about the themes and ideas for family service projects.

UU congregations everywhere are exploring the Article 2 Proposal, which would change our principles and sources to focus more on values. The package includes a coloring book for families to learn more and consider this proposal - you can also come to our April 2 collaborative art project on April 2!

IMG 2878"Beauty is that which glistens on the edges of our yearnings and lures us into the depths of things.""
-Patricia Adams Farmer 

What does beauty mean to you? This month, we invite you to nurture beauty. Take the time to notice beauty around you, carry a beautiful poem in your pocket, create art, garden, or....?

In April, our RE programs learned about Easter and Passover, while also baking for the USNF Cathedral in the Night donation. On Easter, they participated in an Easter Can Hunt and donated over 50 pounds of high priority non perishable foods to the Northampton Survival Center. Thank you to everyone who donated!

As we look ahead to next month's theme of nurturing beauty, we will get back to our mural about the interdependent web of life of which we are all a part.

Here are some activities to practice nurturing beauty as a family:

  • Each of you choose something beautiful to carry with you for the month. It could be a beautiful stone, a poem, a picture, etc.
  • Garden together to nurture beauty.
  • Talk about what beauty means to each of you. Explore the difference between cultural and societal ideals about beauty and what you actually perceive as beautiful.
  • Share what you think is beautiful about each other.
  • Take a beauty walk. On a family walk, take turns noticing what is beautiful around you.
  • At the end of the day, share one beautiful thing you saw or experienced.
  • Create something beautiful together: do a family art project!

Here are some questions to explore:

  • What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen or experienced? How did it leave its mark on you?
  • When do you feel beautiful?
    Have you ever found beauty in something that other people might not see as beautiful?

“We eventually learn that spirituality is not about leaving life's problems behind, but about continually confronting them with honesty and courage. It is about bringing heightened awareness and compassion to our family life, careers, and community service.” -Jiddu Krishnamurti

In an ideal world, a spiritual community is one where you can bring your whole self - your joys, your challenges, your fears - and find support and love. It's a community where we are all perhaps building the "perfect heart" as we see each other through the rips and rPerfect Heart Svc - Jessica getting escorted outepairs. The theme this month is vulnerability and I have been reflecting on ways that we open to vulnerability at USNF.

Someone asked recently why we start most meetings with a check in and I think this is why. Unlike a work meeting, we are working together as whole, complete beings, encouraging and accepting one another. Did you see the Adult Credo Service on Sunday? If not, I highly recommend you watch it. I am also eager for the Youth Group Service at the end of the month, March 26. These services offer a rare gift of sharing in each other's journeys and learning from each other on our quests for truth and meaning.

Coming to an Our Whole Lives (OWL) Sexuality Education class, whether you are 5 or 65, also can be a place where we let our vulnerability show. We never ask anyone to share their personal stories, yet we are asking people to talk about sexuality(!). At the end of most classes the students feel more open, more energized, more connected. In fact, at the last K-1 OWL class this year, the students asked if the class could continue to meet every Sunday!

We attempt the hard work of talking about racism and other oppressions, showing up with the vulnerability of all that we don't know and all that we wish were different. It is hard for me to admit that I am worried that I will say the wrong thing, but admitting that vulnerability actually opens me up to explore systems of oppression and ways that I am complicit without making it about me. Once again this month, people with children in their lives (parents, caregivers, grandparents, teachers), are invited to discuss ideas from How to Raise an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. Even if you haven't read the book, we will use it to explore how we can model and teach our kids how to be antiracist.

In the Family Faith Development section below, you will find prompts for exploring vulnerability for people of all ages. There are simple sentences that we can all practice to share our vulnerability, as well as our values. If you would like a packet for personal reflection and practices for adults, let me know.

We Hold Hope Close
By Theresa I. Soto
In this community, we hold hope close.IMG 1538
We don’t always know what comes next, but that cannot dissuade us.
We don’t always know just what to do, but that will not mean that we are lost in the wilderness.

Despite all of the changes and adjustments this year, we come together as a community of love and learning, embracing hope and curiosity. Thank you to everyone who helps & supports our RE program and the wonderful students who remind us to hope!

Our RE classes were online this month due to the Omicron surge, but that didn't stop us from having fun, singing songs, experiencing mindfulness, considering intentions, exploring UU Principles and Wisdom Tales from around the world!

Emma, our early childhood educator, and Jessica Q, our youth childcare provider, led family gatherings with songs, stories, activities and reflections about UU principles & the monthly theme: Living with Intention. Our elementary class acted out wisdom tales from faiths and cultures around the world as a way to learn about UU Principles and values. Each participant got an activity bag (pictured above) with stories, supplies for art activities, and fidget tools.

 Hopefully, you had a chance to watch the Coming of Age service on January 16: Be A King. Congratulations to our Coming of Age class for planning and sharing this inspiring service. Up next for COA: mentor matches! A huge thank you to our mentors for this year.

Jessica, our Director of Faith Development and Community Engagement, is on maternity leave but you will still get a response if you email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

May the love that overcomes all differences,
that heals all wounds,Jessica and Gili
that puts to flight all fears,
that reconciles all who are separated,
Be in us and among us
now and always. Amen.
-Fred Gillis

My daughter, Gili, will turn 1 this week! I have experienced all of the clichés of new parenthood - how quickly this year has gone, how proud I am of this little being, and how much infinite love I am discovering. As Janet talked about on Sunday, loving Gili and wanting her to know how much she is loved reminds me what it means to be human. This powerful love makes me grateful of our interdependence and hopeful about transformation.

Our theme in worship and religious education classes for the month of February is love. With the kids, we will take the opportunity to think about self love, about kindness towards others, and about justice. Many of you are probably familiar with the Cornel West quote, "Justice is what love looks like in public." There are opportunities for people of all ages to learn or take action.

Explore the theme of Love as a family. Talk about what love means to you and all the different ways you see it.  Over dinner, have each person share something(s) they love about themselves one night. On other nights, share what you love about each other.

Take on a love project! Send cards to people you love this month or offer to shovel a neighbor's driveway. As a family, you could think of someone you want to reach out to and make them a meal or do something else that they might appreciate.

“Every day, I see or hear something that more or less kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle in the haystack of light.Reid Cards
It was what I was born for – to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world – to instruct myself over and over in joy and acclamation.” 
-Mary Oliver

I have been delighted to spend this fall outside with our RE classes. It is wonderful to see each other in person, to collaborate, to share laughter and insights, and to witness our progress as we add to a mural about the interdependent web of life each week (here we are at work in this picture). I look forward to more opportunities to connect and share joy both in person and on Zoom in December as we focus on the theme Opening to Joy.

When 19 people in the congregation, from a baby through adults of all ages, assembled to rake leaves for others in November, it felt like we were opening to joy together. It was astounding to see how much we could accomplish in a short time -- and how enjoyable it is to do yard work with others! 

How do you Open to Joy? As a family, how can you support each other in noticing and experiencing joy? Set an intention for the month to cultivate joy together. Here are some ideas: over dinner, share about a joyful moment from the day. Make it a point to take photos of joy over the course of the month. At the end of the month, put all of the photos together and reflect on the experience of seeking out images of joy.

Our Winter care package contains activities, crafts, mindfulness, music and stories about this theme. Here are some questions and prompts about Opening to Joy: What brings you joy? What does joy feel like? Who helps you to feel joy? How do you bring joy to others? Share a favorite joke. What is the relationship between joy and sadness?  Create a joy project together!

"The more I wonder, the more I love." -Alice Walker

Wonder seems like the perfect theme for December, with all of the opportunities to wonder at the frost, the snow, time together with family, the December holidays. It is a time to pause and marvel, a break from the mundane.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to create this nature mandala with you all in the service on November 20 (photo courtesy of Ali Urbano). ItMandala and chancel filled me with wonder to watch it develop as each person came up and added an element, altering the whole in their own way. I had no idea how this would unfold and I loved watching it happen. This is so often the case at USNF -- where collaboration creates something more beautiful and spectacular.

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening it tasted like beets.)
-George Ella Lyon

Where are you from? What are the scents, the stories, and memories of your childhood?

Over this year, I have been interviewing my mother about her life and writing an informal memoir. It is wonderful to get a glimpse into her life, my family, and her values through this process. I am grateful to be able to hold a piece of her (and my) history.

Our theme this month, Holding History, invites us all to reflect on our personal and family histories, as well as the history we have been taught, the legacies of our country and ancestors. These are huge questions!

Find other activities for holding history together here.

As a congregation, we are committed to address painful and unjust histories, moving to center those most impacted. We are looking at the history of People of Color in the United States and in Unitarian Universalism. Our studies of Widening the Circle this month will focus on UU Theology - what is it and who does it include? What is the UU Theology that we want to envision?

As you know, at each service we acknowledge that we are on ancestral lands of the Pocumtuck and Nipmuck people. This month is a great time to learn more about this history. Learn more from the Nolumbeka Project.

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