Week Two: Leader Toolkit

Theme: Practice Paying Attention —Listening

Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet, said, “The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.” This week we’ll share fun, creative ideas for how to quiet ourselves for deep listening: to nature, to your own inner voice, and to others—starting with our children. Intentional listening allows you to pay attention to your own truest wisdom, forge a deeper connection to creation, and bring a caring presence to your conversations with others. Here are some ways to get started.

Scripture Text | Psalm 23

Three Wonderings

1

What happens when I really listen to someone else?

2

What happens when I really listen to myself?

3

How/where do I notice God when I listen?

Spiritual Practice

If you are a trained facilitator, the following tips may be helpful in supporting families going deeper with their spiritual practice. These tips are from Rev. Emily Meyer, Director of The Ministry Lab, ordained pastor in the ELCA, and who has studied at  Shalem Institute, United Theological Seminary and Mindful Schools.

Using Emily’s audio recording or downloadable pdf as your guide, try also:

  • At the conclusion of each section in the Practice, invite participants to “notice” (that word is intentional) where God is: in their body as it settles down; in the busy-ness around them; in the stillness around them; in the stillness of their own body.
  • It is most efficacious if this is an invitation and not a question. Questions tend to limit our perception, as they predetermine both how God might be showing up and our interpretation. Let the invitation be to notice or wonder where God is, so that all of our senses – and our intuition and emotions – can participate in discerning God’s presence within and around us.
  • If participants are experienced with mindfulness, meditation or contemplative practices, you might also invite them to “notice that they are noticing”; and further encourage them to notice how (with which sense, with intuition, etc.) they are noticing. This is not for beginners! It is tempting to do too much “thinking” if one isn’t used to simply observing.
  • Which leads to a further and important facet which is to notice without “naming” or attaching emotion to what is being noticed. This is the practice of nonjudgmentalism, which is so helpful in developing compassion and the empathy mentioned above. Again, this isn’t something to introduce the first time through, necessarily, but after a few sessions, this is an important aspect of the practice that helps participants move more deeply into presence with the Divine.

Caring for the Common Good Project

The Power of Speaking Up

As we encourage our children to be aware of the sounds around them and actively listen as others are speaking, it’s also important to encourage them to listen to — and share – their own voice. There is nothing more powerful, no matter your age, than speaking your truth about causes you care about. In fact, it’s the only way change happens. Encourage kids to listen quietly to that voice of passion in their own hearts – and then help them share that passion with the world. Get inspired by Malala, learn more about how to share your cause with your elected leaders, and use these kid-friendly templates to help children and families learn to raise their voices for peace, justice, and social action.

Creative Project

Make a Composition

observational, playful, ages 5+
(this project works really well with high school students and could easily be adapted for online gatherings)

Materials: Bottles, cans, sticks, tables, etc…

How To: To get inspired, watch John Cage performing Water Walk.

  • Create a short composition using found and unusual materials
  • Practice it a few times then perform it for family or friends in person or online

Time it Takes: 20+ minutes

Games/Movement

Sound Scavenger Hunt

playful, ages 4+

Materials: Sounds Scavenger Hunt or Make-Your-Own

How To: Inside or outside, go for a sound scavenger hunt and take your time collecting all of your sounds.

Time it Takes: 15-20 minutes

© Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ | 2020