Activity time: 12 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Tingsha chimes or other gentle sound instrument
- Leader Resource 1, Guiding Lights
- Paper clips
- Fine-point markers
- Optional: Snacks and other supplies appropriate for a birthday party
Preparation for Activity
- Decide how you will form groups of three or four and estimate how many small groups there will be.
- Make a copy of Leader Resource 1 for each small group plus one for yourself. Cut each copy so each guiding light is on a separate slip of paper. Paper-clip each stack of slips together, in random order.
- Optional: If you plan to dramatize the activity as a birthday party, set out decorations, snacks and supplies.
Description of Activity
This is a three-part activity. In Part 1, participants think ahead to their 100th birthday and imagine how the world will have changed and what they will have done with their lives. In Part 2, they prioritize people, organizations, goals and other forces to guide them along 100 years of life. In Part 3, the group considers the idea of "calling."
Part 1. Ask participants to prepare for a meditative reflection. Invite them to sit comfortably and, if they wish, to close their eyes. Say you will ask them to gaze into the future to answer three questions, and you will sound the tingshas to signal the beginning and end of each meditative moment. Sound the tingshas to begin the meditation and say:
Think ahead more than 80 years. Imagine that you are soon to turn 100 years old. At the sound of the tingshas, imagine that this is your 100th birthday. In your mind, look out a window or around the room where you happen to be on your 100th birthday; focus on one thing that is really different than what we know today.
Wait a few moments, then sound the tingshas again. Ask what they imagined that will be different on their 100th birthdays. After some sharing, ask participants to close their eyes again and sound the tingshas. Say:
Imagine one important thing you will have done with your life between now and your 100th birthday. Of course, it is impossible to really know at your age what you might do over the next 80-plus years. Think about things you enjoy now that you may still like to do when you are older, or things you have thought you might like to do when you are old enough. Just imagine.
Wait a moment, then sound the tingshas. Invite brief sharing.
Repeat the process a third time, saying, "Imagine one person or thing that has helped guide you along the way to your one hundredth birthday." Invite sharing.
Part 2. Invite the group to think more about their life guides with another activity. Display one set of guiding lights to the group. Point out that each item names a person, organization or other force that might help guide a person as they decide what to do with their lives. You might say:
We all have moments when it is difficult to know what we should do next. So now we are going to decide who or what some of our best guides might be.
Form small groups. Distribute the packets of guiding lights you have prepared. Invite the groups to rank their guiding lights from most to least important and useful. If they cannot decide between two or more guiding lights, they may place them side by side. Say:
When your group is satisfied you have your guiding lights in the right order, tape them together.
When all have finished, bring the groups together. Have them hold up their taped guiding lights to compare results. Do all agree? What were their reasons for their decisions? Point out there is no right way to respond to this challenge. People receive help from many different guiding lights in many different ways in life. What is important today is thinking about some guides we may use in the future.
Part 3. Ask if participants have heard of people who feel a "calling" to do something. Explain the concept:
Some people feel "called" to a specific profession or purpose in their lives. Ministers, for example, often speak of "being called" to the ministry. Many would say that the "calling" is a feeling deep inside them that they should be ministers. But the idea of calling is not limited to the ministry. People can feel called to other professions, as well - to teaching, or medicine, or working with animals, for example. Some people know from a very young age "what they want to be when they grow up." Some later change their minds, but others do not.
Ask if any of them are quite sure what they wish to do with their lives. Ask also if they know people who have felt called to do or be something. Do they hope that someday they will feel called to do something special and specific with their lives? Or would they rather just decide, step by step, as they go along?
Including All Participants
If you will serve snacks, first find out about any food allergies or restrictions in the group. Obtain "birthday" foods everyone can eat.