Something on My Face: Learning How to Be in Community

From the shoulders up, a white person gazes into the camera. Small stripes of paint, arranged in a rainbow pattern, run down their cheeks.

Before beginning, dramatically turn your back on the congregation and children, and place a smudge on cheek. It is important that this be a smudge that is large enough for the congregation to see, but does not cover the whole face. One cheek is good. Turn around.

I need some volunteers today to be human mirrors. One at a time, I’d like you to act like you are a human mirror. You can stand near to me and say, "You have something on your face!" After you do that, I am going to respond to what you have told me. And then it will be someone else’s turn. Okay? Who will be first?


  • "Ahhhh, nope. I don't have anything on my face."
  • "What are you talking about? You're wrong. I'm not going to listen to you."
  • "Funny you should say that because YOU are the one who has something on YOUR face."
  • "You must be joking. I am an expert face washer. I have studied facewashing for YEARS!"
  • "How dare you tell me I have something on my face! You don't get to play with me anymore!"
  • "How dare you tell me I have something on my face! I'm going to leave the game now."
  • "I have something on my face?!? What's wrong with me? I'm going back to bed."
  • "Everybody has something on their face. So why mention it? There's nothing we can do about it. It's always going to be this way."
  • "I have something on my face? Thank you for telling me. I've been washing it away, bit by bit, but I guess some of it is stickier than I thought. I really appreciate you're letting me know. Would you be willing to help me wash my face? [provide moist wash cloths and jointly clean away that smudge...]"

When you think about being in community together and what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist, which response did you think was the best one? [Let the children answer – possible follow up questions: why do you think that? If they are unsure, you can ask, “Was it the first one, when I said that there was nothing on my face? Was it the one when I told you that you couldn’t play with me anymore?]

Sometimes, when we are building community together, it’s important to listen to what other people have to say, even if we might not want to hear it at first. But we do that because it’s part of our covenant – our promise – to each other.

There are times when we need to hear news or feedback that causes us discomfort, but in hearing it and responding to it constructively, with curiosity and humility, we can more easily go about building Beloved Community. This is especially true when it comes to feedback about how cultural privilege -- along race, gender/gender identity, dis/ability, sexual orientation, class -- impacts others. This interactive story demonstrates the many ways that we respond, some unskillful, ending with one that affirms our covenant with one other.


  • Damp wash cloths or wet wipes
  • Substance to smudge on face that can be seen by congregation (potting soil, glitter, eye shadow, flour, etc.)
  • Mirror – ideal size is like a piece of notebook paper (optional)