Activity 2: Story – May Sarton
Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A copy of the story, “May Sarton”
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
Preparation for Activity
- Read the story, “May Sarton.” Prepare to read or tell it dramatically.
- Print on newsprint and post the following May Sarton quote: “If one looks long enough at almost anything, looks with absolute attention at a flower, a stone, the bark of a tree, grass, snow, a cloud, something like revelation takes place.”
Description of Activity
Tell the group May Sarton was a poet and journal writer of the 20th century whose personal religion shared much with Unitarian Universalism. Read the Mary Sarton story aloud.
When you are finished, invite participants to focus on May Sarton’s phrase “looks with absolute attention.” Say the phrase aloud. Pause, and then repeat the entire quotation from Sarton’s 1973 memoir Journal of Solitude, which appears in the story:
If one looks long enough at almost anything, looks with absolute attention at a flower, a stone, the bark of a tree, grass, snow, a cloud, something like revelation takes place.
Ask participants what they think the quote means; ask if anyone can explain the word “revelation.” Affirm that a revelation is a piece of knowledge that comes to you suddenly—new learning that may seem to appear out of nowhere. Revelation may feel like a surprise, yet it comes after paying close attention, over time. With older children or adults, you might offer this dictionary definition: “Something revealed, especially a dramatic disclosure of something not previously known or realized.”
Invite participants to suggest examples of revelations. With young children in the group, prompt with examples such as “seeing a butterfly come out of a cocoon” / “realizing someone in another country sees the same stars at night that you do” / “realizing the cake you are eating used to be sticky batter in a bowl” / “learning that a chicken used to be an egg” / “finding out that babies are born from a mother’s body.”
Tell participants that today they will practice looking with absolute attention. Say:
That is what May Sarton did, and so she was ready to notice everyday miracles and experience revelation.