Year 3

All Life is Sacred

This is the third and final year of A Joyful Path Children’s Curriculum. Year 3 is designed for ages nine through twelve. The Year 3 theme is All Life is Sacred.  The 38 sessions explore how to deepen our spiritual connection with Earth, one another and our more-than-human relatives.  Year 3 looks directly to Earth for the lessons She readily provides, namely the importance of relatedness, across and throughout the web of life. As Jesus reminded us through parables and metaphor, the continuing cycle of creation reminds us it is our nature to be loving, generous and united.  When we recognize the spark of God in every life, there are no enemies: only new teachers.

In Year 3, we use original stories, exploration activities, discussion questions, guided visualizations, nature-crafting, rituals and celebrations, art, song, and movement to invite everyone (teachers and students) into encounters with the Divine in many forms.  Just as in Years 1 and 2, the lessons in A Joyful Path Year 3 are heart-centered and experiential. Giving children experiences that are real, kinesthetic and tangible helps them to more fully understand concepts and make meaning that supports them in their own spiritual formation.  With time and encouragement, young people come to embody and articulate their spiritual understanding in ways that hold great impact, individually and collectively.  Whether or not they are able to apply the Year 3 lessons right away, experiential learning creates a solid foundation for a child’s lifelong spiritual journey.

The lessons are informed by Christian mysticism and Earth-centered spirituality.  The lessons include interfaith and interspiritual perspectives.  Year 3 is more about spiritual formation and transformation than religious education.  It is inspired by the Eight Points of Progressive Christianity, Creation Spirituality, Interfaith and interspiritual wisdom, and centers Indigenous Earth Based Spirituality. We draw heavily upon Indigenous Wisdom, often referring back to Robin Wall Kimmerer’s teachings found in her book, Braiding Sweetgrass.

This unit was written between 2019-2021. Around the world, communities are facing major social and systemic change.  Signs of societal and environmental collapse are evident. Within this reality, Year 3 attempts to ground, prepare and inspire the next generation by providing spiritual practices, self-awareness exercises and organizing tools so communities may rise up resiliently, modeling a healthy and whole way forward for all.  Bishop John Shelby Spong has said, “Christianity must change or die.”  We have been moved by that charge. A Joyful Path, Year 3 offers a Christianity that is radically inclusive, willing to foster connections and asks questions in pursuit of “the Oneness and Unity of all Life.” Our goal is that Year 3 meets the real needs of communities committed to life and love-affirming social transformation.  The lessons aim to equip children and instructors with tools to become radically compassionate, brave lovers of the world, Earth and all creatures.

These 38 lessons, reflecting and drawing upon the 4 seasons, will be designed to provide:

  • suggestions for personal and group reflection (the instructor, the students and the students in community with one another);
  • resources to expand awareness to other cultures, religions and ways of knowing;
  • practices to invite spiritual discovery, awareness and application;
  • embodied activities for direct encounters and experience;
  • brainstorms for further action and engagement with the community;
  • rituals for celebrating the gifts Earth provides in each of the 4 seasons; and
  • ceremonies to explore gratitude, engagement/being in the struggling, peace-making, and forgiveness.

Each lesson will provide a way of learning through the mind, body, emotion and Spirit.

“Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the Earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond.”
~Robin Wall Kimmerer, a Potawatomi Indian and botanist

Some of the Authors and Teachers we will draw upon in writing this curriculum:
Eckhart Tolle
Houston Smith
Paul Knitter
Thomas Berry
Paul Tillich
Jack Cornfield
Meister Eckhart
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox
Bishop Jack Spong
Marcus Borg
Rabbi Zalman
Val Webb
Sallie Mcfague

Also, mystical teachings, sacred texts, and ancient mythology…

Artwork by Autumn Skye

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