Last week I attended a church service at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Orlando. This is a non-creedal church that focuses on shared values rather than religion. It is accepting of every faith (or “lack there of”), race, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.. I enjoy the services because the messages thrive on the idea that everyone is on their own spiritual journey and invites questions and community. Rather than encouraging others to think as we do, they constantly challenge us to be knowledgeable and empathetic towards perspectives other than our own.
At this service, they feature a Words for All Ages section where Reverend Kathy Schmitz typically reads a children’s book that lines up with the overall theme of the service. This week was different. She handed a balloon to the kids in the front row of every pew section. She said, “Everybody knows this game so let’s see who wins!” Naturally, not everyone knew exactly what she meant and everyone started tapping balloons in various directions. A couple of the kids, obviously instructed so beforehand, took the balloon and ran to the back.
“No, no, no, bring the balloons back. That’s not how this works!” The minister continued explaining how sometimes rules are important so that everyone is on the same page; however, often in life people assume everyone is playing the same game. With more detailed instructions, the game began. The kids tapped the balloons backwards, they made their way to the back, and then found their way to the front again. It was cute watching select people have fun and contribute to the race.
“We’re going to play this one more time. This time the goal isn’t the race, it’s participation. Go!” This was where the room lit up. The balloon bopped from person to person, left to right, forwards and backwards. The entirety of all the pews played. Elderly people were leaping to hit the balloons. Kids were running through the aisles wanting another go. There was so much laughter and interaction throughout the entire sanctuary. It was beautiful. I almost felt some mist in my eyes seeing a group of people who mostly don’t interact other than Sunday mornings embracing their inner child because of a balloon.
“Now that is community.” She explained that to share in community, we must communicate expectations or “rules” rather than assuming everyone thinks the way we do. It’s a sweet demonstration of a much more complicated concept but it was lovely to see something as simple as a balloon bring a group of people together. Because sometimes, that’s all it takes to share something.
What are some ways you’ve seen communities come together? What sort of communities are you part of? I want to hear it - share below!
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