Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A copy of the story "The Teachings of the Rain God"
Preparation for Activity
- Familiarize yourself with the story. If possible, prepare to tell it dramatically. When participants can see a story come alive, they engage more easily.
Description of Activity
Say that people all over the world have stories they tell about water, and now you will share one called "The Teachings of the Rain God" from the Masai culture of Kenya . Read or tell the story. Then, help the group process the story with these questions, adapting to fit the ages and maturity of participants:
- Who has seen a real tortoise? Do you think this story really explains why the tortoise is flat? (Affirm that how different animals got their widely ranging sizes, shapes and other characteristics is a mystery of life that many people seek hard to explain. Unitarian Universalists believe what science tells us-that a natural process of evolution over many, many generations shaped tortoises and other forms of life, including humans, to look and function as they do today. Over a long, long time, different animals and plants developed different features that would help them to survive. Some are built just right for life in the desert and some for living in the river.)
- The lion caused the supply of fresh water to disappear. The lion's challenge to the Rain God caused problems not just for the lion, but for everybody else. Is that fair? (Affirm that the lion's actions might be compared to human pollution today. Most Unitarian Universalists would agree that, in real life, pollution is largely caused by humans and can only be reduced by humans. People who care to make things fair can act on their beliefs by working to reduce water pollution.)
- What is the lesson of this story? (Affirm that one important lesson comes at the end of the story, when Rain God tells the animals to share water and other property with those who need it. Unitarian Universalists would agree with this idea. Many Unitarian Universalists would say sharing can be a way to act in faith. Unitarian Universalism is a religion that affirms all people and other living things are connected in one interdependent web of all existence.)
- What does Unitarian Universalism say about sharing things like water? How is sharing water a form of Unitarian Universalist faith in action? (Affirm that when we share, we show beliefs that tie Unitarian Universalists together. Our Principles talk about each person's inherent worth and dignity (that every person is important), the importance of justice and fairness and our belonging to an interdependent web of all life.)
- How can sharing water or taking care of water be a spiritual act? (Affirm that our spirit is the part of us that is connected to all of life and any larger force, such as God, we believe exists beyond the life we know. Sharing makes a connection outside of ourselves. When we share out of love, compassion and a sense of justice, we are acting from our spirit.)
- What does it mean to say that you should love your neighbor? And who is your neighbor? (Affirm that our neighbor might be the person who lives next door; in the story, the neighbors were the animals that lived near one another and shared the fresh water supply. But it also can mean someone who lives on the other side of the world, because we are all part of one, interconnected web of life. To love your neighbor means to treat other people the way you hope they will treat you. The better we share Earth's resources-the more we act like neighbors to all who depend on the same water-the better chance we have to share a world of justice and peace.)