Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Activity 1: Story - Sun Mother Walks the Earth

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story so you will be comfortable presenting it.

Description of Activity

Participants hear and discuss an Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime story.

Tell or read the story "Sun Mother Walks the Earth." Then, invite participants' responses. Prompt with questions such as:

  • What big question or questions does the story answer?
  • What is the meaning of the scene where she lets the animals choose ways to change their appearance?
  • If you had been told this story from the time you were tiny child and it was part of your group's lore, how would it influence the way you experience your world? Imagine hearing this, believing it, and walking into the field, where the story says that Sun Mother walked and made everything bloom. How would that feel? She created the streams and rivers, without which life would be impossible. How would you feel when you went to dip water from the stream?
  • If this were your group's story, how do you think you would feel about your relationship with Sun Mother? With the divine?
  • Do you think all Australian Aborginal people today believe this story is the literal truth? If not, do you think they might still value the story? Why? What may it mean to modern Aboriginal people? Remember that for people who live in an indigenous culture, as for all people, beliefs can change, over time.
  • What, if anything, do you take from this story that relates to your own faith or spirituality? If you do not have aboriginal roots, how could the story's meaning be different for you than for aboriginal people? Point out that when we use stories from other faiths or cultures, we need to acknowledge that the meaning we find may be different from meanings the stories' owners extract; remembering this helps us respectfully share with cultures not our own. (Be aware, the group might include youth with aboriginal ancestry; some may claim this story as part of their cultural heritage.)
  • Earlier, we discussed some of the human needs religion fills: answers to big questions, connecting with something bigger than ourselves, giving meaning and purpose to life, creating a sense of belonging, and helping us know right from wrong. How might this story support humans in meeting any of these needs?