Spring 2022 ~ Letter from Director of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration (LSE)

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to recharge during my mid-winter leave time. I’m deeply grateful to my colleagues, LSE volunteers / facilitators, and congregants of all ages who continued the important and varied ministries of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration in my absence. For those who have participated, these have been lifelines of connection during another long and trying COVID winter. I’ve been slowly acquainting myself with the landscape of UCM, like a bear emerging to the sunlight in this time of spring’s arrival. Perhaps we are all doing that to some degree after these two years of COVID? 


So, what is the current LSE landscape? The small but steady high school youth group has continued to meet monthly–outdoors, indoors, or online. Some are hoping to make a youth group trip to Washington DC for the Poor People’s Campaign in June, and at least one is hoping to go to Star Island in August – both great ways to deepen UU identity and friendships. The middle school youth group has a spring restart this Sunday with some maple sugaring out in Middlesex, and we’ll hope for another couple gatherings this spring. I’m thrilled that the various types of Chalice Circles (ten or so ongoing small groups) continue to be a supportive place of deep listening and reflection for adults on their spiritual journeys. We have one senior participating in the Bridging program, and will have that ceremony in worship on Sun. May 15th. 


The weekly pre-worship online Children’s Chapel has had a great run for a year and a half and currently is feeling Zoom fatigue. Two years since regular in-person church for young kids is a huge portion of their lives and is hard to overcome. It’s become clear that Zoom works for some and not for others at any age, but it is especially challenging for young kids who need that in-person sensory back-and-forth experience. A quartet of creative and thoughtful LSE volunteers keep the online sessions welcoming and special each week. We’re excited to host a local author, Katy Farber, on April 3rd! With the increasingly nicer weather, we will slowly phase away from the weekly online Children’s Chapel and encourage families to more in-person outdoor options for connection such as the Peace Park on the afternoon of April 10th.   


In terms of upcoming LSE programming, this spring feels like a time of Awakening (April’s theme in fact)! In our family we move slowly at first as we wake up. We often ask “How did you sleep?” or “Did you have any dreams?” In our congregation it will be a time of greeting one another anew, being gentle as Rev. Joan said above, and asking questions and sharing our stories of the challenges and joys and milestones of this time we’ve made it through. With a better understanding of where we’ve been and where we are, we will be better able to ask, “What lies ahead?” 


Along those lines, I’ve savored the walks, cups of tea, and phone calls that I’ve had with some volunteers, parents, and even youth to help understand where they’re at and to better understand our collective needs in this unique time. I would love to set up more one-on-one or group conversations with people of any age in the congregation who want to touch base, so please do reach out to set up a time to connect. Spring is the time of planting seeds, so let’s talk about hopes and dreams of what might grow in the coming year. 


We’re intentionally trying to not overfill the calendar this spring, to be gentle on all of us in this time of Awakening. But relationship building does take some coming together, so below you’ll find options to help us along that path. 


Hoping to see you soon in-person, either outdoors or indoors, during our spring of Awakening!


With love,

Liza Earle-Centers

Dir. Lifespan Spiritual Exploration, ucm.dre@gmail.com, 802.223.7861 ext. 2


Upcoming LSE Events & Programs


MS Youth Group, Sunday, March 27th, 1 – 3 PM — Maple sugaring at Brian Prendergast’s in Middlesex! Sugar on snow. Dress for the weather. See e-news or emails for RSVP / directions.


4th – 6th Grade Our Whole Lives (OWL) — Holistic sexuality education led by trained UCM facilitators. **Parent orientation (required)** on Mon. March 28th, 6:30 – 8 PM at UCM. 5 sessions for youth will be 10am-noon on five Sundays in April and May. 


Zoom Children’s Chapel (9:15 – 9:45 AM at ucmvt.org) —

  • Sunday, March 27th: A story and fun activity with sticks to show that we’re stronger when we share our gifts with one another. 
  • Sunday, April 3rd: Guest author, Katy Farber talks her book, Salamander Sky. All ages are invited to be part of the statewide citizen science Amphibian Road Crossing on any upcoming warm and rainy nights! 


Outdoor Children’s Chapel 

  • Sunday April 10th, 1pm: Awakening to Spring! Geared toward 4th grade and younger, but open to all ages – meet at MHS track and bike or scooter or meander to the Peace Park along the bike path (see weekly e-news for details).    


Midweek Meditation, First & Third Wednesday Mornings, 9 – 10 AM — On Zoom. Next Gatherings: April 6th and 20th. See weekly e-news for details. 


Book discussion: I Never Thought of it That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversation in Dangerously Divided Times by Monica Guzman. Led by Liza Earle-Centers.

Sign up here if you’d like to be sent an email invite with specifics, or for help with copies of the book. Geared for adults, though interested youth welcome.


Multi-gen Service Project: Tree Planting with Friends of the Winooski River at North Branch Nature Center

Last year was a huge success! Join us this year, Sat. April 30th. Rain date Sun. May 1st. Keep an eye out in the e-news or sign up here to make sure you stay in the loop as details firm up.


Sabbatical Common Read discussion with Rev. Joan


Spring Session on Tuesday, May 10, 7-8pm (Zoom only) and Saturday, May 14, 9:30-10:30am (In-person).

Breathe by Imani Perry and Defund Fear by Zach Norris. Both discussed at both sessions.

A couple loaner copies are available in the LSE Library in the School St. entryway to the church. Reach out to Liza if you’d like to set up a firm time to pick one up.


LSE Sunday with a Child Dedication Ceremony

Sunday June 5th, 10 AM

If you are a Member of UCM (or interested in starting that process), please let Liza or Rev. Joan know if your family would like to participate. Our dedication ceremonies are for children of any age (more information here). 


UCM Summer Camping Weekend

July 8th – 10th. All ages are encouraged to save-the-date for a fun time out at Kettle Pond in Groton State Forest! 


Are you interested? 

Parent Support Group – A couple parents are voicing interest in connecting in a supportive space with other parents. Anyone else? Let Liza know and she’ll try to help you launch something together.   

Caring for the Caregivers – a supportive Chalice Circle for adults caring for loved ones with ongoing mental or physical illness. Facilitated by Gale Pekar on Zoom. Email Liza if you are interested in helping us choose a common time for the first meeting at the end of April or early May.