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

Activity 1: Life Lessons

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint or dry erase board and markers
  • Pens or pencils and journal

Preparation for Activity

Write each of the following prompts on newsprint (two per sheet) or on the dry erase board, leaving room around each for participant's comments:

  • Argument with an authority figure
  • Difficult break-up/rejection
  • Stranger
  • Wise elder
  • Disagreement with your church
  • Historical figure
  • Animal
  • Mistake
  • Intuition/inner voice

Description of Activity

Responding to prompts from the leader, participants write and then share what they have learned from guides, teachers, and experiences.

Explain that participants should write a response to each prompt that you read. If they have no response, write NA for Not Applicable. After the exercise, they may return to any prompt and write more about it. For now a one-line note will do. They will have one minute per prompt.

Read aloud the prompts below, flipping the corresponding newsprint pages as you go: What have you learned from...

  • an argument with a parent or other authority figure?
  • a difficult break-up or a friend's rejection?
  • a stranger?
  • a wise elder?
  • a disagreement with your church or religion?
  • a famous public figure?
  • an animal?
  • a mistake you made?
  • your own intuition, an inner voice?

Invite participants to share answers to the nine prompts. Write notes from participants' responses on the corresponding piece of newsprint or on the board. Point out trends in responses as you notice them.

Explain that any of the events or ideas described by the prompts could lead to a valuable life lesson. Often we think of people-either in our lives, like a teacher; or historical figures, like Jesus-as spiritual guides. Many times these people are guides by intention. However, sometimes our life experiences, which usually happen unintentionally, can teach us lessons about ourselves that are just as valuable. The exercise we just completed reminded us of lessons we can learn from people and life experiences.

Use the following questions to start a discussion about life lessons:

  • Is it possible to look around and decide who or what we will go to for guidance, or do our guides, teachers, or lessons somehow find us? Can it be a combination?
  • Do you learn more from painful experiences or from pleasurable ones?
  • Do you learn on the spot, or can the learning hit you later?
  • How can we recognize an unusual teacher or lesson that comes our way?
  • Have we left out any life guides? What or who? What did you learn from them?