'Spiritual Explorers' Group Leads Kids to Questions, Not Answers
GREENPOINT — When they reach school-age, kids not only deserve to learn reading, writing and math, Danielle Mussafi says — they should start their quests for the meaning of life and God.
So Mussafi created the "Spiritual Explorers" group, an alternative to religious school that asks kids to "tap into that voice inside of them" as they navigate the world.
"We want them to focus on the questions and the mystery," said Mussafi, 30, whose new kids group is part of Original Blessing, North Brooklyn's first Unitarian Universalist congregation (and the second in all of the borough). The denomination embraces all beliefs and encourages a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning."
"God could be to them a man in the sky, laughter, music," said Mussafi of children's diverse beliefs and inklings. "They're already getting images and information...I want to foster spiritual exploration for them."
The weekly class, for children 4 to 10, will begin with a candle lighting or other ritual, and then each session will differ slightly, but Mussafi will often read a story that provokes discussion about a different theme (like "gratitude" in the month of November).
And each class will be coordinated with the congregation's adult services, which have been held in the documentary screening and production center Union Docs Center for Contemporary Art since last fall. Original Blessing is seeking a new space come November, when the Spiritual Explorers class begins, Mussafi said.
The theme of each children's class will correlate to that of the adult service, and afterward kids and parents can come together to continue discussing the topic throughout the week.
Mussafi, who grew up Jewish attending Hebrew school, but said she never bonded with her congregation, said she hoped to provide kids with an "intentional community" based on a value of nature, expression, social justice and the search for meaning.
"We want them to understand that they're part of something bigger than them," she said.