Chalica is a season that ties what we do in our spirituality, learning and work for social justice at UUCC. It ties our community together with our households and families with a ritual of candle lighting that allows us to reflect on the principles that inform Unitarian Universalism.
While some UU congregations celebrate this in December over a week, at UUCC we extend it through the winter months, over eight weeks. At home, a time is set aside when families gather to light a candle for that week, to reflect on the principle and to consider how we make it real in our day to day lives. When we gather for worship, we are all invited to reflect on how our community at UUCC embodies the principles.
This year, we include a new principle that is being considered by the UU Association that asks us to confront systems of oppression and foster diverse communities.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
Within us all burns the fire of life. We share this common flame, symbol of our precious being. Each flame burns with a unique glow, signifying our respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
Family Discussion Questions
If you watched the service on Sunday, talk with your family about the “labels” that Rev. Randy brought up in his message. How do these tend to stick to ourselves and other people in our day to day experience?
Some people we like more than others, how can we recognize and respect the worth and dignity of every person even if we don’t like them?
Think of someone in your life you interact with but don’t know well––your mail person, someone at the grocery store, someone who does things at your home like mows the lawn or shovels snow. Its easy to get into the habit of not seeing such people for the whole and complete persons they are. What ways might you change your interactions with these people? Are there any special ways in which you might affirm their worth and dignity in a more concrete way?
“Justice has always evoked ideas of equality, of proportion of compensation. Equity signifies equality. Rules and regulations, right and righteousness are concerned with equality in value… If all men [sic] are equal, then all men are of the same essence, and the common essence entitles them of the same fundamental rights and equal liberty… In short justice is another name of liberty, equality and fraternity.”
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar
Fire cannot be grasped, or held within the hand. Fire is transparent, giving light and warmth to all. As we light this chalice, let us kindle within ourselves and our fellowship. A shared fire that illuminates us to share warmth and light with the world.
Family Discussion Questions
Watch this TED talk by Joan Halifax: Compassion and the true meaning of empathy. Then, with your family or with some friends, discuss the ideas you’ve heard.
As you go through your week, make note of times and occasions where you could have brought more compassion into the world in an everyday situation.
Identify an individual or location where lack of empathy is having a particularly egregious effect (e.g., a homeless person whom you frequently see on your commutes). With your family or friends, come up with a plan to address the need and bring empathy into the situation.
“Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom.
How do they learn it?
They fall and falling,
they’re given wings.”
“For Estefani, Third Grade, Who Made Me a Card”
By Aracelis Girmay, read by the author and animated by TedX
This chalice is a lighthouse, a beacon reaching across the vast spaces.
This flame beckons all travelers, come, enter, and be welcome.
Join us on our mutual quest.
Think about your close friends and family—people who you love and who you talk to regularly.
Plan out a way you might reach out to/connect with/contact each of these people and what either words, piece of media (a song, a poem, a piece of art, etc.) or personal message might encourage them.
Think about what you might send in a different way than other kinds of ways you might be in touch. This isn’t about conveying that you care for them, or reminding them you are there for them. What is going on in their lives? What are their struggles? What is it that you know about each of these people that could help you to encourage them, uplift them, and spur them on in good ways?
Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance! Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness… In the name of democracy, let us all unite!
– Charlie Chaplin
Week 4 Chalica Reflection from Rev. Randy Partain
Our chalice is a lamp, lighting dark corners of ignorance; illuminating falsehoods.
We hold this sacred lamp, applying knowledge with care and abiding purpose.
Watch this (very) short reflection on “responsibility” as a concept, especially as it relates to things we accomplish and do in the world.
How might this idea relate to how we pursue the truth? What kinds of requirements and expectations does it leave us with? How might it change the questions we ask and HOW we ask those questions? What might it look like ot search for the truth “brilliantly,” as the video uses that term?
Democracy… is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder; and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike.
This gentle flame is the roaring inferno of transformation, for only through freedom of belief may we become what we will
May our chalice melt the shackles of superstition and creed, lighting our way on the path of spiritual growth and freedom.
Sometimes, the hardest thing about getting started with something like exercising our democratic rights is just taking the first step! So, in preparation for taking that step, take some time now and research some agencies and groups in your area that are working through the democratic process. This may be something like a get out the vote campaign or an advocacy group or even a letter writing campaign! The point is, once you know a few things that are out there, and if you understand what they are up to, when you are finally ready to take that step, you’ll have all that you need to know!
I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.
– Harper Lee
As we light this chalice,
May its flame consume the forces of violence in the world;
May its heat warm the chill of misunderstanding and hate;
May its light brighten the lives of the sick of heart and mind.
Chalice, burn with the fire of peace and liberty.
This wonderful and really engaging reflection on human ancestry and human connection does a
great job of bringing our sixth principle into our understanding of the world around us AND it sneakily leans in the direction of our seventh principle, which is coming just around the bend!
Props to PBS digital studios for this great reflection!
Have you ever heard of the word “glocal?” It was popular as an idea a few years ago when people were becoming more and more aware of how our world involved global realities even in our close-by neighborhoods.
Just being aware of how important people are all around the world can be helpful in fostering that “global” consciousness that is at the root of our 6th principle!
So, take stock of your world right around you as you read this––look around your room or whatever is closeby and think about all the global realities that are represented in front of you. For example, as I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a coffee shop––who picked the coffee that I’m drinking right now? Where did the natural resources for this cup and cookie come from? Who was involved in putting together the case on the laptop I’m typing on?
If you make a quick list, you can realize very quickly how much of the wider world is a very real part of the lives we all live.
We are one, after all, you and I: together we suffer, together we exist, and forever will we recreate each other.”
-Adapted from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“Let us be united;
Let us speak in harmony;
Let our minds apprehend alike.
Common be our prayer;
Common be the end of our assembly;
Common be our resolution;
Common be our deliberations.
Alike be our feelings;
Unified be our hearts;
Common be our intentions;
Perfect be our unity.”
-Adapted from the Rig Veda
This whole principle is about the idea of things being connected even when we aren’t
aware of HOW they are connected. This video captures why this is at the root of some of
the biggest questions we have about the nature of the universe––this principle is about
big ideas, and here’s an introduction to one of them!
Something to Do
This week is all about webs and nets and interconnection. One of the ways Rev. Randy asked us to consider our connectedness to the world was about things we buy that might be coming from different people in different lands in different contexts entirely from our own.
Watch the following video and talk with friends and family about this question: what goes into making a favorite piece of clothing––a t-shirt, dress, pair of pants––and what happens when I stop wearing it?
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
– James Baldwin
Justice is what love looks like in public.
– Cornell West
History, despite its wrenching pain
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The Day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Something to Do
There will be a congregational conversation soon (check the weekly newsletter for details) to continue the discussion about the Eighth Principle and the issues that surround it. Join in as a listener and contributor. With your family, discuss what it means to be individuals who are part of a congregations devoted to anti-racist work.