(I’ve been pretty absent here lately, haven’t I? Sorry. I’ve been having trouble getting posts from my head to the page.)
We did a UU Superheroes lesson for the first time in a long time today. Alex’s request. I didn’t have time to prep in advance, so I grabbed the first set of lesson pages I found that didn’t require me to assemble materials: Beatrix Potter. She’s a big change from the overtly religious figures we’ve studied so far, and I’m not entirely sure that she fits the “superhero” mold. But she certainly is a famous Unitarian.
We read a story about her lonely, isolated childhood. Interestingly, although her Unitarian grandfather campaigned for broader access to schools, Beatrix never went to school; although her Unitarian grandmother argued for expanded rights for women and girls, Beatrix had a hemmed-in, constrained life. We talked about how she filled her time and made her days meaningful by studying nature and art.
Then I sent the kids outside to find something from nature that they wanted to draw. Colin brought in an interesting fallen leaf that was green, yellow, and brown, and Alex chose a sprig from a bush with glossy dark leaves and green berries. I brought out special art supplies from my secret needs-adult-supervision drawer: oil pastels and charcoal. There was much excitement.
As the kids worked, I asked Alex whether she thought Beatrix Potter’s life was an example of any of the Seven Principles of Unitarian-Universalism. She immediately mentioned the third principle, which in the children’s version she learned is “We’re free to learn together” and in the adult version is “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” I suggested that the seventh principle, caring for the earth and the interdependent web of existence, might also be involved. But honestly, the religious content in this lesson seemed very slight.
Alex made a very nice charcoal sketch of her spray of leaves:
But I was really impressed when I came home from work and saw the other picture she had drawn. She used her stuffed loon as a model, and drew a picture of a loon being captured by some sort of rope. So that’s very similar to Beatrix Potter: drawing accurately from a model, but then putting the figure in an imaginative context. She worked really hard on the details – can you see the red iris to the loon’s eye? And all those white spots!
Colin asked that I take a picture of his drawing, too, “and put it on the blog.” Unsurprisingly, he was not able or willing to copy his leaf; he asked if he could draw from his imagination instead. Here you go.