The UE group (mostly grades 3-5) also comes upstairs for the first part of class – from about 9:45-10:05. They participate in the calling of the four directions, the opening song, and the first gift (usually poetry, dance, or singing). They also put their spare change in the basket on the altar to “feed the hungry.”
Like the Lower Elementary class, this group also focuses on the basics of Creation Spirituality, the Judeo-Christian Bible stories, and holidays/stories from other traditions (e.g., Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Baha’i, Native American, Neo-Pagan/Wiccan). This group is also continually reminded to appreciate all of nature and to recognize the sacred in everything.
In addition, we take advantage of the increased cognitive abilities of this age group. Instead of hearing storybook versions of the Bible passages, the teachers read directly from the Bible. Familiar passages are also taught more quickly so the kids have more time to ponder the values and emotions expressed in each story. A Bible story about fear or anger can be translated into an opportunity to “find your voice.” A Bible story about love and peace becomes an introduction to social justice. Finally, we begin offering opportunities to find connections between the Bible passages and other sacred texts. For example, we might introduce a short, related passage from the Tao Te Ching, the Qur’an, the Bhagavad Gita, the Dhammapada, or the Sufi poets.