There’s an image associated with Nurturing that’s become a bit of a cliche for me. You may have seen it a few times yourself: a pair of hands gingerly cupping a clump of dirt from which a sapling is growing. Nothing wrong with the image itself, but way back when I was an undergrad studying creative writing, I was told that if you’ve come up with a metaphor or turn of phrase that sounds even the least bit familiar, ruthlessly track down the source. If it’s been used even once before, don’t even think about using it again. So here I am working on a blog post about Nurturing, and the obvious visual image is an overused cliche. So, rather than provide a spiffy image to go along with this small group ministry session on Nurturing, I’m using a pop-art photo from an old-timey dictionary. As always, the resources for this session come from one of my favorite sites,

Chalice/Candle Lighting

Opening Words:

Personal holiness involves what you take into your body, visually, aurally, or orally. You are what you see and hear.
— Lawrence Kushner in The Book of Words



An Excerpt from Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest and Delight by Wayne Muller

In his book, Muller challenges us to nurture for our bodies and our spirits by taking a Sabbath day of rest, setting aside a Sabbath afternoon for silence, and creating Sabbath moments in our hectic weekday schedules.

Sabbath honors the necessary wisdom of dormancy. If certain plant species, for example, do not lie dormant for winter, they will not bear fruit in the spring. If this continues for more than a season, the plant begins to die. If dormancy continues to be prevented, the entire species will die. A period of rest — in which nutrition and fertility most readily coalesce — is not simply a human psychological convenience; it is a spiritual and biological necessity. A lack of dormancy produces confusion and erosion in the life force.

We, too, must have a period in which we lie fallow, and restore our souls. In Sabbath time we remember to celebrate what is beautiful and sacred; we light candles, sing songs, tell stories, eat, nap, and make love. It is a time to let our work, our lands, our animals lie fallow, to be nourished and refreshed. Within this sanctuary, we become available to the insights and blessings of deep mindfulness that arise only in stillness and time. When we act from a place of deep rest, we are more capable of cultivating what the Buddhists would call right understanding, right action, and right effort. In a complex and unstable world, if we do not rest, if we do not surrender into some kind of Sabbath, how can we find our way, how can we hear the voices that tell us the right thing to do?

Questions: What are some of the blocks and hindrances that keep you from taking time to care for your soul and your spirit?

Check-out/Likes and Wishes

Closing Words:

Looking deeply at any one thing, we see the whole cosmos. The one is made of the many. To take care of ourselves, we take care of those around us.
— Thich Nhat Hanh in Cultivating the Mind of Love

To Practice This Thought: Whenever you feel burned-out, vow to take some time for self-care.

Group Session Plan based on resources on Nurturing from

For a PDF version of this small group ministry session, click here: Nurturing.

For more information on small group ministry, visit the UU Small Group Ministry Network.