Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Chalice candle or LED/battery-operated candle
- Lighter and extinguisher, if needed
- Basket of name stones
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
- Optional: A picture of a real human heart and a picture of a heart shape
- Optional: A national flag or a picture of one, a peace symbol, and/or a television remote control
Preparation for Activity
- Decide whether you will explain the concept of a symbol during the Opening. Gather the symbols you want to show the group.
- Write the chalice-lighting words on newsprint and post.
- Post a blank sheet of newsprint if you plan to draw the heart shape or other symbols.
- Memorize the chalice-lighting words so you can make eye contact with participants while you say them.
- Spread the labyrinth on the floor with the chalice in the center.
- Place the basket of stones on the labyrinth.
Description of Activity
As children enter, invite them to retrieve their name stones from the basket and join you at the labyrinth. The labyrinth should be spread on the floor with the chalice in the center and matches or a lighter at hand if needed.
Be aware that some children may not have chosen a name stone and will need to do that now. Always have extra stones so you can offer the newcomers and any guests a chance to be part of the ritual. Being welcoming in this way models the ritual of hospitality the group will formally explore in Session 12: John Murray.
When all are seated, light the chalice and recite these opening words. Invite everyone to say with you:
We are Unitarian Universalists,
with minds that think,
hearts that love,
and hands that are ready to serve.
Tell the children that one at a time, they may place their stones upon the labyrinth. You may say:
This labyrinth reminds us that we are taking a journey together. Every session is yet another portion of that journey. Each time we meet, you will be asked to place your name stone within the labyrinth. Each stone is a symbol of us as members of this Creating Home community. While placing your stones, please say your name and share any joys or concerns you have had since we last met. Joys are the things that make you feel happy and concerns are worries. Sharing our joys and concerns with each other is a tradition in our faith community."
Invite children to come up, one at a time, to place their stone upon the labyrinth, say their name, and voice any joys and concerns. You may have to prompt each individual participant until the group gets used to this opening ritual. When all have placed their name stones on the labyrinth, affirm, "It is very good to be together."
Tell the group that today's session introduces some symbols of our Unitarian Universalist faith. You may say, in your own words:
A symbol can be a picture, an object, a song, or anything that stands for something else. Usually, the "something else" is something you can't see, like a feeling, or an idea, or something really big, like a whole country. Symbols can make it easy for us to share feelings and ideas with one another.
Extinguish the chalice.
Now, ask the children to touch the place on their body where their heart is (and demonstrate). Ask if any of them know what the heart inside their body looks like. If you have brought a picture of a real heart, show them. Then ask the children to draw a heart with their fingers in the air. Most children will draw the heart shape. If you have brought a picture of the heart shape, show it to the group. Or, draw the heart shape on the newsprint you have posted.
Ask what children think of when they see the heart shape. Most will say "love" or "I love you." You can explain to children that the heart shape is a symbol for the heart inside our bodies, which we can't actually see, and a symbol for love, which is a feeling that we cannot actually see.
Ask the group if they can think of any other symbols. You can prompt them with:
- A flag can be a symbol for a whole country, like the United States.
- A button with an arrow pointing up or down can be a symbol on an elevator, a computer keyboard, or a television remote control. It stands for moving up or moving down.
- A peace sign can be a symbol of the idea that war should end.
If you have brought symbols, show them to the group. Or, you may draw them on newsprint.