Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Chalice candle or LED/battery-operated candle
- Lighter and extinguisher, if needed
- Labyrinth, folded or rolled to conceal its design
- Basket or bowl of stones
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
Preparation for Activity
- Write the chalice-lighting words on newsprint, and post.
- Memorize the chalice-lighting words, so you can make eye contact with participants while you say them.
- Place the labyrinth in the center of the area where you will unfold/unroll it. Make sure you have enough space for the opened labyrinth.
- On top of the folded labyrinth, place the basket or bowl of stones. Place the chalice next to the basket.
Description of Activity
The opening of a session can set the tone for everything that follows today and in future sessions. During this opening you will introduce new concepts and an opening ritual. Try to sense when you need to slow down and allow children to comment and ask questions. The more you help the children uncover what they already know about labyrinths, thresholds, and rituals, the more receptive they will be as you guide them toward new understandings in this program.
As children arrive, invite each to choose a stone from the basket or bowl. Ask each child to find a place to sit, making a circle around the folded or rolled-up labyrinth.
When all are seated, light the chalice and recite these opening words. You may invite participants to recite with you. Direct their attention to the newsprint you have posted with the words. You may wish to guide them by saying each line and inviting them to repeat it after you:
We are Unitarian Universalists,
with minds that think,
hearts that love,
and hands that are ready to serve.
In these words or your own, say:
Welcome to the Creating Home program and this room. When you came into this room, you crossed over a threshold. Does anyone know what a threshold is?
Allow responses. Then, tell the group:
A threshold is the entrance to or exit from any space. A threshold can be a place of greeting. It can be a place of saying goodbye. A threshold can be a place of surprises, such as the delivery of an unexpected package or the arrival of an unexpected guest.
Then say in your own words or these:
After you crossed the threshold to enter this room today, you chose a stone. This is your name stone. It represents you while you are with us in the Creating Home program. Each time we meet, you will cross the threshold, find your name stone, and place the stone on our labyrinth.
Now direct the children's attention to the labyrinth. Tell them it is a special part of the Creating Home program. Ask the children to help you unroll or unfold it and spread it on the floor.
As the labyrinth becomes visible, ask the group what they think it is. Allow some suggestions. Then tell them the image is a labyrinth.
Some children may have guessed that the labyrinth is a maze. Whether or not mazes have been mentioned, mention them now. Ask a child who has seen one to tell what a maze is.
Then explain the difference:
A labyrinth looks a bit like a maze, but is not the same. A maze is a puzzle. It is easy to take a wrong turn in a maze. It is easy to get stuck in a maze. But, a labyrinth has no wrong turns.
Point out that your labyrinth has a single threshold - a place for entrance and exit. You can give your group some background about labyrinths:
- People have made labyrinths in cathedrals, in fields, and in homes in different parts of the world.
- Walking in a labyrinth is an ancient form of meditation. Meditation is a way to relax your body and open your mind.
- When you enter a labyrinth to meditate, you enter by crossing its threshold just as we crossed the threshold to this meeting space today.
You may wish to describe how people use a labyrinth for meditation. If you will do Activity 3: Walking the Labyrinth, later in this session, tell the children they will have an opportunity to try it themselves. Use these words, or your own:
You cross the threshold to enter the labyrinth. Then, you walk along the path slowly and meditate until you reach the center. At the center, you open your heart and open your mind. Then you turn around and walk the labyrinth path back from the center, and exit by crossing the threshold. This experience is a way to stop, slow down and reflect for a moment on our time together and anything else that might be on your mind.
Going into the labyrinth can feel like going on a journey and returning home again.
Tell the children that later they will explore how it feels to cross the threshold and walk to the center of the labyrinth. Invite them now to place their name stones on the labyrinth. Depending on the size of the group, you may choose to invite the children to approach the labyrinth one at a time, and then return to the circle, rather than have all the children place their stones on the labyrinth at once.
You may tell them that placing their name stones on the inside of the labyrinth, across its threshold, symbolizes that they have crossed the threshold into their work together and are now in a special place.
Including All Participants
If a child is physically unable to place a name stone on the labyrinth, choose another child to do so for them or invite them to ask another child to do it.