Monday, December 10, 2012

Helping out during the Holidays

Religious Education is collecting gifts, thru December 23, for the moms and children at Sojourn House during Christmas. Sojourn House is a homeless shelter for women and children, located nearby on Union St. Families stay for differing amounts of time and receive help finding permanent housing. Many are women escaping domestic violence and so they arrive with nothing.

Because of the nature of the shelter and the differing situations of the women and children who arrive, there is no way to know exactly which families will be there over Christmas. So we ask for an array of gifts for different ages. These are families that are not connected to any holiday adopt a family programs. so our gifts really do matter.

Most of the children who stay with their moms at Sojourn House are young. But occasionally there are older children and teens. I do check with Sojourn House staff a few days before Christmas just to see if there are any older children. When there are, I make an extra effort to see that there are appropriate gifts for them too.

Since this coming Sunday is Revels, we will have a basket, located near the church office, for donations. It is there all week so people can drop off donations any time the church is open.

The last Sunday we collect, December 23, we will have a table at the back of the Great Hall.

Gift Ideas for Sojourn House: 

For Babies: onesies, sleepers, baby lotions, baby body wash, baby powder,  rattles, teething and soft toys, sippy cups, clothing.

For Children: trucks, matchbox cars, dinosaur/animal figures, baby dolls in strollers, blocks/building sets, play dough, crayons, coloring books, magnetic letters, Puzzles, Books, non-toxic arts and craft supplies, board games, craft kits (bracelet making, mosaics etc), playing cards

For Moms: comforter sets/blankets, bathrobes, slippers, body wash/lotion sets, (no candles or anything that burns). gift cards to Price Chopper and Walmart, children’s dvds, notepad & pen sets, alarm clocks or regular wall clocks. Things moms spend a lot of money on: diapers (mostly size 4 and 5), wipes, bus passes for transportation, and snacks. Things to start up an apartment: Tupperware, pots/pans, dish towels/cloths, shower curtain...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holiday Presence: the gifts of spiritual practice

For the past two weeks in religious education we have explored spiritual practices with our elementary- aged children. We practiced yoga with postures, breathing and meditation. We worked with labyrinths and snow globes! Last Sunday the children heard a story for Advent and created Advent wreaths to bring home. They learned a song to sing as they light a candle each week.

Spiritual practice take time. And the beauty is, when we slow down, when we practice slowing down, other things in our lives become more manageable. Time becomes a little more spacious. Spiritual practices can help to anchor us in trying times. They can help us slow down and focus on what is truly important. Spiritual practices center us and allow us to be of greater service to the world. They allow us to better live out our values.  

Practicing with your child/children can be a way to build and sustain a life-affirming habit. Make a habit of it when things are going well and it will be there for you when things are not. Cultivating spiritual practices with children can be a simple as practicing gratitude daily. Or pausing once during the day, maybe at the end of they day, to consciously breath. The practices and value of breath awareness are well- documented. Simple breathing practices can lead to meditation practices.

Many of us have some time off during this holiday season. Consider making mindful presence, starting a spiritual practice, a present of this season.

Here are some resources if you are interested in reading more. But the most important part is making time for a practice.

Playful Family Yoga, by Teressa Asencia
Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness With Children, by Thich Nhat Hahn.
Anh's Anger, by Gail Silver