Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Exploring Our Values Through Poetry: A Program for High School Youth

Activity 2: Life Recipes

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Large index cards, one for each participant
  • Pens or pencils
  • Newsprint or a dry erase board and markers

Preparation for Activity

  • If you choose to use the Dewey Delight recipe provided below as an example, consider writing it on newsprint before starting the workshop.

Description of Activity

Each participant creates a “recipe” for him-/herself which reflects his/her formative experiences and life journey.

Hand out an index card and pens or pencils to each participant. Tell participants, In past workshops, we have talked about what guides us, inspires us, how we are perceived, and who we feel we really are on the inside. We are going to do an activity that makes us think a little differently about our lives. We will make our own Life Recipe cards. Instead of listing food ingredients, our recipe cards will list the ingredients that make us who we are. These include the feelings we have talked about before. It also includes our life experiences, relationships, and other aspects of life in community.

Have the group list the components of a recipe, and write down their responses on newsprint or a dry erase board. You should end up with something like:

  • which ingredients to include
  • the amount of each ingredient so the proportions are right
  • preparation and cooking instructions

Lead the group to create a practice “life recipe” for someone they all know. You can practice with a movie character, such as Dewey from the film SchoolofRock, or a popular fictional character whose story is known to all, such as Spiderman, or Santa Claus. You may invite suggestions. Refer to the sample recipe below, and follow these steps, writing the recipe on newsprint or a dry erase board:

  • Pick a character.
  • Encourage the group to name the recipe, e.g., “Dewey Delight.”
  • Lead a discussion about what makes up this character. Ask participants to express the character’s “ingredients” in the form of experiences, life lessons, and relationships.
  • Once you have a few ingredients, ask participants how much of each ingredient the recipe should call for. Be prepared for some lively debate as participants weigh which experiences and relationships are more or less important.
  • Once you have a working list of ingredients, ask participants how to “cook” the character. Prompt with cooking terms such as preheat, melt, puree, add, fold in, in a separate bowl, sift, marinate, and sprinkle. Be prepared for the debate to continue as participants discuss the sequence of events, which ingredients are grouped together in what ways, and how long the character must bake.

Sample Life Recipe: Dewey Delight

Dewey’s ingredients and instructions might look something like this:

3 cups love of rock music from years of listening

4 cups experience playing guitar

1 cup rejection by band

A dash of humility from falling in front of the crowd during a stage dive

1/4 cup living with a “sell-out”

1/4 cup poverty

1/2 cup vague feeling of determination

3 cups realizing that he admires and loves his students

3 tbsp realization that students are better musicians than he

1 tsp insecurity from lack of teaching experience

1 tbsp fear of headmistress

1 cup wanting to show up his old band at Battle of the Bands

4 cups feeling absolute glee from playing show

Bring to a boil love of rock music and experience playing guitar; let simmer for ten years. Next, fold in rejection by band. In a separate bowl, combine dash of humility, living with a sell-out, and poverty. Blend the two mixtures. Marinate for a few weeks. Grease a loaf pan with vague feeling of determination. Pour in batter and bake for a month.

For icing, combine love for students, realization that they are good musicians, insecurity, fear of headmistress, and wanting to show up old band. Smear icing on loaf. Serve with a garnish of absolute glee from playing show.

Send participants off to write their own Life Recipes on the index cards. Have them reconvene at an agreed-upon time, and invite volunteers to share some names, ingredients, and processes from their recipes. You may use these questions:

  • How would you describe your recipe to a friend with whom you would share this meal?
  • Do you think you are fully cooked now? What other ingredients might you add? When will you really be “done”?
  • Are you simply a set of ingredients? Can you have strong teachers and powerful experiences and still form your own beliefs and choose your own path?
  • Think about the balance we spoke of earlier: between the individual and the community. How many ingredients do your relationships to people make? How many ingredients are life events? Are some ingredients parts of your personality?
  • Is there something inside you that stays present, no matter what life experiences you encounter? If so, what do you call that part of you? How was it created: by nature, nurture, or divinity? What keeps that part of you intact? However intact, is it possible for this part of you to change?
  • What is the relationship between cooking and transformation? Is this an apt metaphor for life?

Participants may choose to use their recipe cards in Faith in Action: Time Capsule.