RE NEWS by Joanne Dingus


By Joanne Dingus

 Trees, a Circle of Life

We have used many of the UUA’s Tapestry of Faith programs for our religious education classes over the past few years. They are filled with stories, activities and UU faith development practices. We’ve always gone with age-specific programs but they now have a couple of multigenerational programs.

This summer, I would like to try their curriculum called Circle of Trees. This is a program for all ages that we could use for the 11:00 class. We might also be able to take many of the elements of the program and modify them to be used at 9:30 in our multi-age class. Or we may decide to choose another related program for 9:30.

Circle of Trees is written for eight sessions but offers many alternative activities and faith in action projects so it would be easy to stretch it out across the eleven weeks of summer.

Here is the description from the UUA website:

The Program

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.  — Albert Einstein

Every part of the earth is sacred; every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every humming insect is holy.  — Anonymous

Roger Ulrich is an environmental psychologist who took advantage of a naturalistic experiment . . . What he found was that the patients with a view of a grove of trees left hospital on average a day sooner, needed less pain medication, and had fewer negative nurse’s notes than patients who had a view of a brick wall.  — Esther Sternberg in “The Science of Healing Places,” On Being, September 2012

Circle of Trees is a multigenerational program of eight workshops that nurture deep connection with trees, nature, and all of earth’s living creatures. The program uses trees as an entry point to understand and connect with life on earth. Across many cultures, trees are recognized as a symbol for life on earth—for example, the biblical Tree of Life. Even young children understand trees as sustainers of life, fundamental engines of life on earth as we know it. Trees create and purify the air we breathe. They house and provide resources for myriad creatures, including humans. They bring us peace, joy, and delight.


This program will:

  • Provide a basic understanding of why trees are, literally, “providers of life”
  • Identify threats to trees and the web of life and provide inspiration to take action
  • Explore using methods that are spiritual, non-intellectual, with the hope of fostering deep connection
  • Provide meaningful ways in which participants can actively promote the health of trees and, by extension, the web of life
  • Reinforce the concept of interdependence as expressed in the seventh Unitarian Universalist Principle, “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part”
  • Affirm that stewardship of the earth is an explicit act of Unitarian Universalist faith.

This program has been carefully written, adapting activities when necessary to include everyone. There will be time for 2-3 faith in action group projects and a field trip at the end of the program to a local nature trail.

To learn more about the program and see specific lesson plans go to:

I would love to hear your thoughts about this program and whether you think it would be a good fit for our summer schedule. I would also like to know if you think you would participate. For those concerned about missing services, most sessions stand alone so you would not have to participate each week. And of course you would be welcome to attend service at 9:30 and then come to class at 11:00.

See you in the RE!

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One Response to RE NEWS by Joanne Dingus

  1. says:

    Boy Annie would love this many of her pieces are tree insipid her newest pieces are inspired by oil and coal ash spills

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