Puppy Piles

At a recent district Youth Con (short for conference) I came upon a pile of youth at dusk, under a huge tree entangled in a Puppy Pile. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of a Youth Con experience, a Puppy Pile is a web of youth lying on the floor with heads on bellies and shoulders.  Some Puppy Piles are rowdy with discussions and catching up on personal news. But this particular Puppy Pile was rather quiet.  As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I looked closer I realized that they each had their hand outstretched on someone else’s heart and were trying to get their hearts beating as one.  And then someone started singing softly, “when I breathe in… I breathe in peace… when I breathe out… I breathe out love.”  And one by one they joined in until they were all singing.  And then each perked up with the realization that they had succeeded in getting their hearts in sync.  As if by some cosmic cerebral connection they burst into the song “Love will Guide Us.”

I ask you, what would your life be like right now if you had gotten to be a youth in that pile?

The sacredness of Cons aside, our songs guide and save lives.  Do not take them lightly.  What songs do you pull out for work parties? What songs do you sing to your babies as lullabies?  What songs do you sing to mark the transitions, big and small in your life?

Religious Education gets in our bones, inspires us to our best selves and community  It holds us in our darkness.  It has a beat and can be sung in harmony.


8 thoughts on “Puppy Piles

  1. Tandi, I did. Not that pile exactly, but experiences like that have shaped my life. Because of them:
    I know that touch is sacred, essential, and not necessarily sexual.
    I know that worship takes many forms.
    I know that music is essential to my faith practice.
    I know how much every single one of our members and friends is capable of.
    I know that religious education will transform people from passive to active, from insecure to confident, from bystanders to leaders.

  2. Way to make me cry before I leave for work, Tandi!
    … I remember moments like these lovingly but vaguely, as if I lived them in some other life.
    I would echo Isinha’s thought’s, she summed it up perfectly.
    I also want to add that it’s these experiences, and Religious Education in general, that taught me to be aware of and okay with my own evolution. Since I’ve known that everything has not been set in stone for me, I have been comfortable in my life with re-examining myself, my activities and beliefs, and recognizing changes. I feel like my early Religious Education taught me to be happy and proud of who I am now, and to know I can be proud of the (likely very different) person I will be in another ten years.

    As long as I stay aware of my own beat, I will be able to dance and sing with it forever – to find others with the same rhythm – even as it changes over the years!

  3. Magnificent! Thank you for sharing Tandi.

    Growing up Unitarian Universalist in Liberal Religious Youth and Young Religious Unitarian Universalists gave me those opportunities, and those experiences continue to shape my life decades later.

    Youth in community with youth, served by youth, and supported by caring, appropriate adults in a setting of love, safety, joy, learning, and celebration.

    That is Youth Work.

    It made a Unitarian Universalist out of me and many of my peers.

    Thank you for supporting such moments through your skilled and loving service as District Staff.

  4. This is lovely. What I’d love to see is this kind of spiritual connection for all of us, from little children to adults. We remember things like this — not so much the circle time/crafts project of most of our regular RE. Why can’t we support and trust this kind of experience (not just that physical connection, but other examples of more spontaneous/fun/connecting spiritual experience)across the board? More of our Religious Education, not just for youth, needs to come from the people involved themselves.

    Thanks so much for sharing this!

  5. This is so touching! It gives me such hope when I hear about all the love that the next generation is “generating!”

    I sing Laura Love’s “Beautiful” to my 5-week old baby Joseph.

  6. > “What songs do you sing to mark the transitions, big and small in your life?”

    At LRY Continental Conference (I don’t think anyone had thought up “Con Con” yet) a huge room of youth (UUth?) sang/chanted “May the long time sunshine upon you; all love surround you; may the still light within you; guide your way on.” Magical. Years later I whispered it over and over to my mother as she died.

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