If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each person's life, sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility. — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
IN TODAY'S SESSION...
The children heard a story about two friends who journey across the desert. During an argument one of the friends slaps the other in anger. The friend who had been slapped writes in the sand, "Today my best friend slapped me." The wind quickly blows the words away. Later the friend who had slapped the other saves him from drowning. This time the man carves in stone, "Today my best friend saved me." We shared this story to teach about forgiveness, and the value in letting go of past hurts and focusing on the kindnesses others have done us. After the story, the children had a chance to write their own hurts and kindnesses in sand and stone.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER.
In order to forgive ourselves or others, we need to remember that we all make mistakes and that we needn't be perfect to be deserving of love. Your child will bring home a lump of clay on which they have written about an act of kindness that they want to remember. Ask them to share about it. Explore as a family ways in which you forgive each other for small things every day, and how that experience of choosing love over holding grudges allows people to be in relationship.
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. TRY...
Notice opportunities to practice forgiveness. Discuss together with your child what is needed to let go of anger and grudges toward another.
A FAMILY RITUAL
Using construction paper or clay, ask everyone in the family to identify someone outside of the family that they hold a grudge against. Choose situations that you will feel safe tackling with your family. Have each person make a "grudge." Imagine what they might look like, small ugly trolls, or amorphous blobs, or hot coals. Share them with one another, stating what they are for. Acknowledge that forgiving is not the same as forgetting. Forgiving frees the heart of the one who has been hurt not to have to carry the bad feelings anymore. It does not mean that that person has to be your best friend. Make a ritualized saying, such as: This grudge is for ___ who did such and such. I will try to remember that they are only human. I may have hurt someone in this way too. I chose forgiveness and I no longer wish to carry this grudge.
Then have a ritualistic burning, throwing away or shredding of the grudges, followed by some kind of celebrating that makes everyone feel good. This might include having everyone share about something nice that someone did for them this week either on paper, on clay or through story sharing. You can also skip the "grudges" and focus only on the kind deeds. Or, focus on experiences of being forgiven.