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

Activity 2: Being Yourself In Love

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Photocopy Handout 1, A Rumi Poem, one for each participant.

Description of Activity

Participants read a poem and explore their own views about a common theme in love poems: merging with another versus remaining an individual in a relationship.

Invite participants to discuss the idea of merging themselves with another person. Use these questions:

  • What are some ways an individual can merge with another person? (You may suggest a few: physically, emotionally, socially, financially, and creatively.)
  • Why and how does an individual merge with someone else in these ways? What compels us to merge like this, sometimes before we even realize that we are doing it?
  • What is the connection between falling in love and this sort of merging?

Explain that a natural conflict arises between the desire to merge with someone who attracts us and the desire to keep ourselves separate. Although it is rarely portrayed this way in fairy tales, such a conflict can arise as a love relationship becomes "real." Invite participants to recap stories from movies, books, television programs, and real life that illustrate this conflict; for example, when one member of a couple disapproves of choices his/her partner makes. A common plot on television tells of a substance-abusing teen whose boyfriend or girlfriend disapproves of the partner's habit. Another example is when a person moves to another city because of a new job opportunity, while his/her partner is invested in staying where she/he lives now.

Guide the discussion further into exploring this type of conflict. Challenge participants with this question: How can we fall in love without falling away from ourselves?

Tell participants that the subject of the poem they are about to read is merging in love. Distribute copies of Handout 1, A Rumi Poem. Lead a "What do we have here?" discussion about the poems. Use these questions:

  • What are the nature images in Rumi's poem, and how do they relate to the notion of merging?
  • Where is the "sweet, timeless land" the lover speaks of?

Lead a "What's the Big Idea?" discussion about the poems. Use these questions:

  • How do the lovers merge?
  • Though the speaker talks about merging, they frequently repeat the phrase "you and I." Why?
  • Does the poem paint a picture both of merging and being separate? How does this relate to the previous conversation the group had about merging in romantic love?