Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I wonder..

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a training session for Godly Play,  "a non-coercive way to encourage children to move into larger dimensions of belief and faith, through "wondering questions" and open-ended response time."

It was a day full of storytelling, art, and wonder. It has been said that to truly learn about Godly Play, you must experience it. How true!

Throughout the day, the trainer told us many stories.. The story of Advent was especially beautiful and moving.

Godly Play " is a way of preparing children to join in the worship and life of their congregations as they develop a deeper understanding of stories, symbols and rites."

  The storyteller is emphatically not an actor or entertainer, but really listens to what God may be revealing to her too as the story unfolds and as the children respond. Usually there is little eye contact. The storyteller is not the focus; instead the unfolding story or religious message is the focus. The teacher creates a sacred space but then 'gets out of the way' to allow the children to meet God directly. This is wonderfully powerful, and has to be seen to be believed - it turns ordinary teaching and storytelling techniques on their head and creates a compelling contemplative level of attention in even the youngest of children.
A key element in the Storyteller's role is to lead the 'wondering' period in response to the story or presentation. Key wondering questions are:
I wonder what you like best about this story
I wonder which is the most important part?
I wonder where you are in this story?
I wonder if there is any part we could leave out, and still have all the story we need? 

After the story, the children are given time for an art "repsonse". Children engaged in art or craft work are not directed 'what to do' either. The adults in fact are very cautious about interrupting or pre-judging the children's work. The emphasis is on inviting the children to comment on what they have done and find their own words for what is meaningful or of value, rather than teacher commentary. 

This was a wonderful day and a fantastic opportunity for me, as well as a part of my new job as Director of Youth Education. While I enjoyed this experience, there were a few things missing for me; mostly the lack of singing before, during, and after the story. The "magic feeling" was also kind of lost when the teacher began giving us specific directions and asking us to make decisions immediately after the story. Do you know what I mean about that "magic feeling"? I've seen it in Waldorf classroom and during my week at Sunbridge...the moments of silence that "just are." The time that is taken to really let an experience sink in...like the moment after a candle is lit or extinguished, the moment after a beautiful song. No words are needed or spoken. As a rather chatty person myself, I find this very, very moving. I can't think of how many times I have filled a silence in conversation  with something unimportant or even silly....learning to take those moments of silence as opportunities for reflection before action...to me, that is powerful.  I am sure that Godly Play teachers use a predictable rhythm for their perspective classes; these were just my initial reactions to this experience.

November is upon us and I can hardly believe it. Has anyone else kind of forgotten about Halloween? It just doesn't seem nearly as meaningful as other festivals. Except for the jack-o-lantern song, I haven't really devoted any attention to it at all this year. Not purposely. It just happened.I'm taking a cue from myself and thinking ahead to more exciting times...

There are so many things to look forward to....Shariffa Oppenheimer is speaking at our local Waldorf school, and that is tops on my list, folks! I'll be a vendor at The River Valley Waldorf School holiday bazaar (locals, don't miss this event!), I'm attending Kimberton's full school open house, which is always a treat, and we're hosting a screening of Race to Nowhere at our house, as well. All of this coupled with Martinmas (my favorite!!), the beginning of Advent, Thanksgiving, and my 30th birthday makes for a very happy and eventful month ahead of us:)

**information for Movie screening: Nov 8th at 7:00 pm...refreshments and fantastic conversation to follow:) Email me (bendingbirch@gmail.com) if you're interested and close by (we live in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, zip 18018)**

Wishing you coziness and warmth:)


  1. I am so excited for you Rebecca. This was a lovely, well written post. I wish that I had to time to "write." Your blessings are right at your fingers....I love to see other Mama's so happy.


  2. Can you give more details about the movie screening? I've been wanting to see this.

  3. I like the idea of listening for God's direction in the story.

    I agree with you tho on those moments of silence as well as the reverence that Waldorf brings to story with a verse or candle. I think the two could be joined quite beautifully.


  4. Wow. What an interesting approach. Soo... much better than a traditional "Sunday School," where kids are given worksheets and told what a story means and given limited time and capacity to interpret it. Just reading this makes me ache to share God with my children in this way. It seems to bring back the wonder and the idea of reverence. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Oh, and I, too agree with the moments of silence (and the singing!). I've been trying to cultivate more of those moments in my life, and that of my very chatty son. Time to process is so important.

    All the best,

  5. Hello everyone-- I just updated this post with information about the movie screening-- I hope to see you there!! xox, rebecca

  6. Dear Rebecca, what a wonderful experience! I so appreciate allowing a child to voice their own experience and thoughts, rather than the adult as the commentator.
    Also, your speaking of the importance of silence really resonates with me.
    I am also excited for November- my children remind me that advent begins at the end of it! Our favorite time of year.
    Your last photo is beautiful, so full of warmth and peace.
    Love, Melanie
    OH- I want you to be sure to know I have changed my blog address to:

  7. How did you set up a screening for the documentary? (I was looking into it, and we had to guarantee 100 people etc.)

  8. Does the church you go to do the "godly play"model in the sunday school? I've never heard of it. It definitely sounds very interesting!


I love to hear from you! I read and appreciate all feedback.. Thanks for stopping by!