Activity time: 7 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Felt candle-and-flame board (see Preparation for Activity)
- Two baskets to hold felt flames and felt candles
- Optional: LED/battery-operated tea lights or candles
Preparation for Activity
- Make a felt candle-and-flame board: Staple or nail a large piece of felt around a wooden board or a sheet of heavy cardboard. Cut out a variety of flame shapes and a variety of candle shapes from different colors of felt.
- Set the felt board in a secure place where children can easily use it. Place the felt "flames" in one basket and the "candles" in the other and place baskets near the felt board.
Description of Activity
This activity invites children to experience a ritual enacted in many Unitarian Universalist congregations. Sharing joys and concerns can deepen a group's sense of community. It gives participants a chance to share a portion of their lives in a unique way, encourages listening to others and, in many cases, makes a link with the adult worship experience.
Introduce the concept of sharing joys and concerns by saying something like:
As a community of caring people who are kind to each other, we want to know what has made you very happy or what has made you sad. You are invited to put a flame on one of these felt candles, place it on this felt board, and then share your joy or concern. Everyone in the room is asked to listen with respect. You do not have to say anything at all, if you do not want to.
Invite participants to come forward one at a time. Of course, anyone may pass. If the children do not know each other very well yet, or a new person is visiting, have everyone say their name before they begin for the group to repeat back. As children share, model listening respectfully and without comment.
Instead of inviting participants to share joys and concerns, posit a question participants can answer briefly. For example, a question to fit this session might be "What do you like about the night sky?"
Including All Participants
If any children are reluctant to stand to address the group, allow them to speak joys and concerns from where they sit or invite them to light a candle silently.
This sharing circle can be a vital part of congregational ministry. Many congregations have in place a safe congregation policy in the event a participant reveals they are being hurt by someone. It will be important to alert your religious educator, minister, or Board president to any troubling issue that may arise in this sharing.