Wings Main Workshop

Welcome to this program on Unitarian Universalist spirituality. Unitarian Universalists affirm that religious truth is continually being revealed-the truth wasn't simply revealed in one time, or one place, or among one people. We are all participants in the search for truth, and thus we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. I am so glad you are here. Together we will light the chalice, the affirmation is written here. (Point to affirmation)


We light this chalice in celebration

of our Unitarian Universalist affirmation

of ongoing learning and new understanding.

Each of us individually and all of us collectively

have gifts and talents to use in the service of life.

Though we all know setbacks and failures,

strength, power, and possibilities always lie before us.

We light this chalice for the Spirit of Life

continuing to move through our lives.


This workshop is grounded in the following Principle and Source from the Purposes and Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association:

... a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.

From Our Statement of Principles and Sources

Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision.

Activity 1: In each of us there is the possibility of growth and change, of unrealized potentials becoming activated, of "wings unfurling." Sometimes, we experience the freedom of wings unfurled when we become free from limitations. Other times, we experience a similar kind of unfurling in the freedom that comes from accepting limitations. A rich sense of spirituality can inspire us, give us meaning, and carry us forward like wings.

This activity offers each of us an opportunity to reflect on how we might be if we let our wings unfurl and our spirits soar.

Distribute Handout 1 and pens or pencils. Invite participants to take fifteen minutes for reflection and writing in response to the handout's questions. Suggest that participants choose the front or the back of the sheet for their primary focus. Completing the entire sheet thoughtfully would be difficult to do in the time allowed and is not necessary. Explain that these worksheets will be kept private-participants will not be asked to share them.

After fifteen minutes, ring the bell. Invite participants to spend another three minutes deciding what to share for Activity 2. These questions might help them choose a focus for their sharing:

  • What is the essence of how you want to be?

  • What obstacles do you want to overcome in order to get there?

  • What help do you need?

Encourage participants to make some notes about what they would like to share.

Activity 2: Tell the group that they will have a structured opportunity to share something about their hopes, dreams, and wished-for "unfurlings." Be clear in your explanation that an "unfurling" of wings can refer to freedom from limitations, but also to the freedom that comes from acceptance of limitations.

Invite participants to form groups of three or form triads yourself. This activity will work best if small group members know and trust one another. If the number of participants in your group is indivisible by three, form pairs as needed.

Ask participants to arrange their seats so that each triad can converse easily. Then, offer these instructions:

Each person in your group will have a turn at each of three roles: speaker, listener, and holder of the space.

When you are the speaker, it takes courage to speak from your depths to another person. You choose what, and how much, you want to share. True, honest speaking creates community and strengthens you in being true to who you are.

Listening is a way of showing respect and care for another. Listening is a way to learn and grow. Listening creates community. Listening without interruption and with attention takes concentration and effort. It is important for the listener to carefully take note of what is said, because you will use this information in Activity 3.

When you are holding the space, you hold the good intentions for the group and provide sacred witness to the sharing between speaker and listener. As you hold the space, you want the best for the time. You want safety and compassion. You want truth to be spoken and heard. When you are holding the space, you give your attention and support to the speaker, to the listener, to the process, and to the relationships it creates.

Initially, each person will have five minutes to speak. When it is your turn to speak, you might begin by taking a deep breath. Speak the essence of what you have to say. Take all the time given to you. Not less, so as not to show up. Not more, so as to take away from someone else's presence in the group. You might think you've said all you have to say, but if your five minutes are not up, you can pause quietly, breathe, and perhaps get in touch with something more to share.

Invite each triad to determine the order in which they will rotate the three roles. Participants who are paired will each take a turn as speaker and listener.

Tell the group you will ring the bell to begin the exercise and at five-minute intervals so they can switch roles. Ring the bell, and watch the clock. Ring the bell again at five minutes, at ten minutes, and finally at fifteen minutes to end the exercise.

Activity 3: While participants are still gathered in their triads, explain:

Now we will take some moments of quiet for each person to compose an affirmation for the person to whom you were the listener. The affirmation, when delivered, should be two minutes or less. You will have ten minutes to focus on creating an affirmation which you will later speak to the person you listened to.There are many ways we can support one another with these affirmations.

If participants express a desire for an example affirmation, you may share this sample, written for "Jill" who is seeking to be a more emotionally available parent:

“Thank you, Jill, for naming and sharing your longings and dreams. You long to be more present to your children, and you face many challenges in life and work that have made this difficult.

May you, Jill, unfurl your wings so that you may gain perspective, so that you may more clearly see what it is you can let go of and what you can claim.

May you trust that even though it can feel like you're all alone in your struggles, you have many friends here who can support you, many friends who struggle, too, to make time for their families.

Even if you know setbacks and disappointments, may you always know that you are held in the embrace of a loving community and sustained by the wondrous spirit of life.

May it be so.”

Invite participants to temporarily move to tables to write, if they wish.

After five minutes, re-gather the triads. Introduce the next phase of the sharing with these words, or your own:

Each person will now have the opportunity to give an affirmation, to receive an affirmation, and to witness an affirmation while holding the space. May you express affirmation not only with your words, but with your face and eyes, too. When you are receiving the affirmation, simply receive the words without comment.

Tell the group you will ring the bell to begin the exercise and at two-minute intervals so they can switch roles. Ring the bell, and watch the clock. Ring the bell again at two minutes, at four minutes, and finally at six minutes to end the exercise.

Tell participants they will have five minutes to reflect on the exercise within their triads. Ask each triad to allocate the time evenly, on their own, so that everyone has the same amount of time to speak and to listen. Offer these questions to guide triads in reflection: "How was this experience for you? What did you notice?"

Bring the group back together to process the experience. Use these questions:

  • What was it like to name what you wanted, and then receive an affirmation?

  • What was it like to compose an affirmation for someone else?

  • Did you notice the Spirit of Life in this experience? If so, where and how?

Closing: Gather participants around the altar or centering table. Affirm the good work that participants have done in this workshop.

Discuss the Taking It Home section you have prepared. Invite participants to "take the workshop home" and explain the activities, as needed. Be sure to be inclusive of people with a variety of living situations-living alone, with a significant other, in a family, with housemates, etc.-in the way you explain the Taking-It-Home activities.

Invite participants to rise in body or spirit and join hands. Then, read aloud the closing words:

We give thanks for the transformative powers

at work in each one of us and in our congregation.

May we trust our powers and know the difference we can make

in the lives of one another.

May we live to make our dreams true.

Extinguish the chalice.


Handout 1:

If you could reach your full potential as a spiritual person, what would you be like?

How would your life be different from what it is today?

How are you moving—or, how can you move—toward that potential?

You may wish to complete some of these sentences to help you focus on your dreams and potentials:

I am drawn to exploring...

I'll let go of...

I long to be...

I can ask for...

I'd like to accept...

I can start again...

I hope for...

I feel an opening to...

A difficulty I know is...

I'm supported by...

Blocks I encounter are...

Hope is kindled in me when...

An old wound is...

I hope for...

Some fears I'd like to see go away are...

I give thanks for...

If my fears went away, I would... .

I will draw on...

If my soul unfurled its wings, I would...

I will be...

Handout 2:

Create an affirmation for the person to whom you were the listener. The affirmation should be two minutes or less in length. You can begin by naming the companion and thanking them for sharing. Then you can speak any sentences completed from the following beginning phrases or any of your own words you have written. You do not need to complete all the sentences below. They are just here to give you ideas.

Thank you, ________________, for naming and sharing your longings and dreams.

May you, ________________, unfurl your wings to…

May you trust…

May you know the support of…

Even if you know setbacks and disappointments, may you always…

May you go in the path of…



May it be so.

Taking It Home:

We covenant to affirm and promote a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

The living tradition we share draws from... humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.

Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. —  Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association

Try journaling in a creative way. Explore the question "Where is the Spirit of Life beckoning me?" by alternating, as you write, between your dominant hand and your non-dominant hand.

Use clay, collage, enactment, or words to create the next chapter of your own life as if it were a parable, a myth, fairy tale, or wisdom story. What is the path you are on now? Is your journey a quest? What are you searching for? How will you know when the quest is complete? Or, is the journey ongoing?

Write your own obituary, epitaph, or eulogy. Write it as you would like it to be. Get in touch with what you value, what you still want to do, and what you want to make peace with.

Create an altar or centering table for the person you are and who you are becoming. You might use candles, flowers, photographs, or any objects that remind you of your dreams for yourself. Consider the placement of objects in relation to one another.