A Religious Education Message from Gina
I’ve been thinking about friendship a lot lately. In fact, friendship has been the focus of much of our Religious Education programming over the past month. We worked together to make a friendship fruit salad, created friendship posters, designed beaded safety pins for a Friendship Pin Communion, and discussed how being a good friend is a common theme in all seven UU principles. We shared books with one another in a book swap, made a friendship video, played cooperative games, and with the help of some fabulous volunteers we sang and drummed together. We also read several books about friendship, including The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig, which was everyone’s favorite. The book tells the story of Brian, a boy who feels so lonely he is practically invisible. At the start of this picture book Brian is shown in an almost transparent shade of grey, while the rest of the world is in color, emphasizing his isolation. But when someone reaches out to Brian in friendship, color begins to creep in. By the end of the story, Brian has become part of a circle of friends, and he is revealed in bright, vivid colors. No longer is he an invisible boy!
I suspect the reason children—and adults—respond so well to this story is because its message is universal. Everyone, even the tiniest baby, knows the comfort and joy that come from love and connection, and the loneliness and fear that come from rejection and lack of connection. Only when others truly see us can we feel loved. Only when our hearts feel connected to others can we thrive and shine in full, glorious color.
As members of a beloved community, we at UUS:E can give that gift to one another—the gift of being truly seen. As Director of Religious Education I am privileged to witness this happening all the time. (And oh, what a privilege it is!) When a child shares a joy or concern during children’s worship they are celebrated or held in love by their peers and their teachers. And in this way that child is seen. When a parent acknowledges being exhausted from a week of caring for two toddlers with a stomach bug, another parent among the group can always be counted on to offer help or kind, loving words. And in this way that parent is seen.
We all deserve to know the joy of connection, the comfort of love, the gratification of friendship, and the awesome fulfillment of being truly seen. May each of us know it, and may each of us give that gift to one another.