A Pocketful of Principles – 4

A Pocketful of Principles – 4

Religious Education at Home for preschoolers, kids, youth and adults

from material developed by Lauren Wyeth, Director of Children, Youth & Family Ministries at the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis

Explore the other Principles

4th Principle
Goodness and curiosity guide our search for truth.

4th Principle Playlist
Listen to our 4th Principle playlist here or build your own collection of songs to remind you of how we encourage and support each others’ spiritual health and growth. Put it on as you’re starting your day, winding down at night, or anytime you want to fill your home with the reminder that you’re not alone.

“Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.”

Read a reflection on our 4th Principle from the Rev. Paige Getty on the UUA website.

[Image description: The words “search freely and responsibly for truth + meaning,” in dark green letters, are superimposed on a background of overlapping circles in a variety of pale greens.]

4th Principle Stories for All Ages
There are many children’s stories and wisdom tales that illustrate a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Here are a few for families:

Questions for reflection, discussion or journaling:
For all ages

  • In the Hindu creation story, the gods hide the meaning of life deep inside humans. Do you believe the meaning of life is in your own body? If so, where in your body? If not, where do you believe it can be found?
  • What are your ideas about the meaning of life?
  • Have you ever felt yourself really slow down, into a “slow motion,” meditative, contemplative, or highly aware state of being? If so, when was that, and how did it happen? How did it feel? What were you aware of?

For high school youth and adults
Though these stories may sound as though they’re just for little ones, their messages are relevant to people of all ages. For example, after reading Buddha and the Mustard Seed Medicine, consider:

  • What are some of the more difficult challenges you’ve faced in life?
  • Who or what was most helpful to you, in processing and surviving those difficult times?
  • Of those experiences, which of them have made you feel particularly alone, if any?
  • Who has faced similar difficulties and challenges to yours? Are you connected to others who have these in common with you? If not, how might you get connected to others who share your experience?
  • If you need help finding a supportive community of others who share your experience, consider reaching out to a trusted adult such as a parent, school counselor, church staff or minister. You don’t need to go it alone. As Unitarian Universalists, we believe the work of understanding and navigating life’s most difficult questions and experiences is best done with the company and support of others. We really want to hear from you. Really.

Suggested Activity: Considering Big Questions Together
for all ages

Most humans encounter and wrestle with big questions throughout life, often from a younger age than parents and caregivers realize.Regularly and thoughtfully considering theological questions is an important part of supporting our kids’ spiritual development and well-being. Children and youth benefit from conversations with trusted adults who model curiosity and flexibility, demonstrate tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty, and offer emotional support and encouragement to soothe difficult feelings that may arise.These questions are appropriate for all ages. Choose to discuss those that most interest your family; reword them as needed for the developmental stages of the people in your family.

  • Is there a god or a force that is larger than us? If so, what is it and what is it like?
  • How do we believe god or this larger power affects our lives and the world?
  • Have you felt the presence of god or something holy? When, and what was it like?
  • What gives us life, or creates living things? How did humans come to be?
  • What happens after we die? Is there a heaven or an afterlife? If so, what is it like?
  • What connects us to other human beings? Are we responsible for each other, or only for ourselves, or only for those we choose to care for?
  • Why do bad things happen? Are bad things inevitable or can we prevent them?
  • How do we know right from wrong? What are some of the things we believe are good or right? What are some of the things we believe are bad or wrong?
  • What does it mean to live a good life? Is the answer the same for everyone?
  • What is our purpose in life, here on this earth? What are humans here to do?

​You might consider designating a special family journal to record your thoughts, dating each entry and noticing how your ideas evolve over time. As Unitarian Universalists, we expect that our search for meaning and truth will be lifelong; as we grow and learn, we return to these questions again and again. Some of our answers will become clearer over time, some will become less certain, many will go through big changes through the years. Our goal is not to arrive at the “correct” answer and write it in stone, but to live with the great mysteries, keeping our minds open to new experiences, information and ideas.

Rev. Karen Hutt’s sermon “Is the Truth Broken?”(below, starting at 29:18) offers older youth and adults another point of entry into conversations connected to the 4th Principle. 

Watch the video above, Curiosity

For middle- and high school youth

This video illustrates what happens when we get in a rut: our curiosity, our energy, our engagement in life suffers. Because of the pandemic, a lot of us have found that our lives are less interesting than they used to be. There’s less to do, and we don’t see as many people or go much of anywhere. Many of our favorite activities are online instead of in person, or they’re cancelled altogether.

When something breaks through the monotony and catches our eye, like that little spark of light in the video, that is a moment of possibility. If we explore it, we might catch a glimpse of something *really* interesting that captures our attention and won’t let it go. What is something that — in the past or currently — has captured your attention so completely that you took your familiar life apart so you could investigate it or pursue it? An example from when you were little might be that you became obsessed with dinosaurs, and you shoved all your other interests and books and toys to the side and thought about dinosaurs 24/7. Or maybe when you were older you joined a hockey team, and it meant you had to give up ballet lessons and lots of your free time, but you were so obsessed with hockey that you didn’t look back. Or maybe when you discovered a particular book series and you just had to read every single one of them because you loved them SO much, and you practically forgot to eat or sleep until you had finished every single page.

As humans, we’re born curious. We love to explore, and learn new things, and think about great mysteries. Unitarian Universalists believe that our curiosity is a holy and sacred part of us. In fact, we believe that it’s so important we embedded it in our 4th Principle. As UUs, we believe in keeping our minds open and searching for truth. There are so many mysteries in the world that we’ll never run out of questions and ideas to explore, no matter how old we get.

How can you notice your own curiosity — however dim or faint it might be when it first shows up — and feed it so that it might become a source of hope and meaning for you?

Watch the video above, How to Draw a Labyrinth

Suggested Activity: Exploring labyrinths
For all ages

Follow the instructions in the video above to draw a 3- or 7-circuit labyrinth. Use your finger to mindfully trace the path of the labyrinth, as explained here.

You can also make a full-size labyrinth using two lengths of rope using these instructions.

[Image description: The words, “Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vow a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come. – Rumi,” are printed in the center of a colorful swirl of muted yellow, pink, green and blue.]
Art by Raphaella Vaisseau


Explore the other Principles