Our story on Sunday was preparing the children for our merging of the waters ritual in the fall. We imagined where we might collect water this summer and we each poured our water into the gathering bowl saying in response, “This is the water of our community”. The children loved participating. They loved having their own water to pour. We also had an interesting conundrum in our opening liturgy.
One of the things we start class with is sharing our joys and sorrows. We pick a joy stone or a sorrow stone and put them on our scale and then either share them verbally with the class or keep them in our hearts. It started right away. A few kids picked multiple stones and put them on the scale. I observed. Then when we were part way around the circle I wondered to the group if there would be enough stones for everyone. Some children responded by choosing just one stone as is our usual practice. Some children couldn’t resist following the example of others and taking multiple stones. And this time, it really happened. We ran out of joy stones before we got around our circle.
We stopped. I sat in silence and looked in our bowl of stones. I looked in and picked up the bowl. I observed to the class that there were no more joy stones. And then I was quiet. They looked around. I looked around. “What do we do friends?”, I asked. They looked around. I looked around. I asked again what we might do so that we could continue with joys and sorrows. Then there was a mad rush as the children took all the joy and sorrow stones that we had used and put them back into the bowl. “Hmmmm”, I said. And then we continued.
For our story, I poured each child a small amount of water. “Why do I only get that much”, a child complained. I said, “Everyone gets a little water. This is how much we have to share. We want to make sure everyone can have some. There is enough water for everyone as long as we share. Do you remember what happened with our stones this morning. There is enough for everyone if we take only what we need”.
Share is a word I don’t often use with pre-schoolers. I have been trained by parent educators to use the words “take turns” when trying to negotiate toys and resources. Share, in a child’s experience means they need to give up what they have; taking turns is a move toward some mutuality, autonomy and cooperation. But I really think share here is appropriate. We don’t want anyone to go without. We want our whole circle to have enough stones to chose one joy or sorrow. We want everyone to be included in our circle of community…to pour their contribution into the gathering bowl of our beloved community…to join their integrity, service and joy into a force that creates a new and more beautiful world for everyone. In order to do this, we need to be aware of each other. We need to receive what is enough and share the rest. This is a lesson beyond the community of our church. What do we have to share? Who needs it? How are we in community? How are we all in this together so that the water rises for everyone? I wonder. This is the water of our community.