Hopefully by now you've heard that USNF will be offering a School of Wizardry for kids from Age 5 through 17 this summer:https://uunorthampton.org/education/usnf-school-of-wizardry.Some of you might be wondering what in the world this has to do with Unitarian Universalism or religious education. UU Harry Potter Programs are somewhat common, not because Harry Potter is a secret Unitarian Universalist (perhaps he is?), but because religious education is a chance for kids to learn about things that matter to them and explore their values in a fun, engaging way.
Many kids love entering a world of magic and wizardry (many grown ups too!). Creating this engaging, imaginary world allows kids and youth a chance to think and reflect about who they are and what their values are.
Each day of the School of Wizardry, the students will explore a value such as power, respect, justice, possibility, and hope. Each house represents a virtue: peace, love, faith, and hope. In house meetings and classes, students will consider how they may live these values and virtues. As the students build their sense of community and togetherness in their house, they also consider how they can embody these important values in their lives.
One of my favorite things about religious education is that the curriculum can change and adapt for the students, the teachers, congregations, and lives of the people involved. It is a chance to play and explore, rooted in our 7 Principles, values, and community. As Jenn Blosser, the Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Meyers (our partner for Wizard School) says, “There is something really sacred about play.” Students and teachers together get to jump into a new world, rooted in deep reflection, inspiring the search for truth and meaning.
On Friday nights in Jewish homes around the world, families come together to light candles, say prayers, and share a meal. For the next 25 hours, the sabbath or Shabbat, is a time to rest. It is a special time set aside from the rest of the week to not work. I have relatives that don’t drive their cars or even turn the lights on and off during this time. They walk to synagogue for worship and have special timers on their lamps. The sabbath is intentional time spent together in presence and stillness.
In some ways, this time of pandemic feels like a prolonged sabbath. Everything has come to rest. It can feel like a quiet, relaxing break. And, it can also feel stressful, anxiety-provoking and relentless. For many families, there isn’t a clear distinction between work, homeschool, and rest.
Carving out time for sabbath -- intentional rest, both together as a family and alone, can feel really restorative. There are ideas and resources below for how to do this, including creating an altar, making a chalice, and practicing mindfulness together. Just like getting dressed in the morning is pretty critical at this time, having intentional time to rest and to be together is also vital.