It is Sunday morning and the kids are readying themselves to enter the Godly Play room. There is lots of wiggling, chattering and movement. I scan the hallway to see who is ready and one by one I call them into the room. I get to check in with them for a minute. I hear about Zach’s goal in his soccer game. Leah’s first week of school. Maddie’s kindergarten teacher. They bring their stories into the room with them as they gather around Missy and find a spot in the circle.
I follow the last child into the classroom and we join the circle together. Bodies are still moving. There is giggling between friends. Missy gently draws our attention back to readying ourselves for the story. We look to the calendar to orient ourselves to where we are in the church year. The green growing season.
We’re halfway to Christmas.
Someone claps. Yea!
A felt heart is passed around the circle and each of us has an opportunity to share a prayer. We petition together.
This is our prayer. Lord, hear our prayer.
Kara closes our time with the Lord’s Prayer. A candle is lit. And we all settle in as Missy begins to tell us the story of Noah.
God created everything. God said, “It is very good.”
As we enter into the story, Missy places eight little wooden figures on the rug. Noah and his family.
Noah walked with God. He came so close to God, and God came so close to Noah, that Noah knew what God wanted him to do.
There is still some movement in the circle around Missy. I am anxious and I want to quiet it, but Missy allows it to continue. She sees that, though the children are not still, they are being drawn into the story and they are fully engaged in what’s going on.
We watch as the animals come from the four corners of the earth to board the ark, two by two. The rain begins to fall. Jordan begins to rhythmically tap her knees and I put my hand on her back to shush her. Suddenly I understand what she is doing and I pull my hand away and listen to the raindrops fall. Missy slowly lifts the ark off of the ground.
At first it was like any rain, but the rain kept on coming. The puddles ran together and soon the water covered everything.
The ark sways back and forth until it is above her head. The whole earth is submerged.
Forty days and forty nights… and then the rain stopped. God did not forget the creatures on the ark.
We are all still. Our eyes follow the ark as the water begins to recede and the ark makes its way closer to the ground. Noah sends out a dove to look for dry land.
Not a dove, but a cricket interrupts our story. The crickets are a permanent fixture in the Godly Play room and are forever distracting our kids from the stories. I’m afraid of this interruption, but Sasha feels inspired.
He wants to tell the story, too!
The kids agree and laugh at the little cricket, who may also appreciate remembering how God did not forget those who were on the ark. I relax and allow myself to enjoy this moment, to feel grateful for it, and to even see some magic in it.
Missy keeps us in the story as we hear of the dove’s continued search for land, and finally, we watch as it finds a home.
It made a nest and stayed there.
The ark settles onto the ground and God fills the sky with a rainbow. The creatures move out of the ark into the four corners of the earth and fill it up again with life. I love that part.
I move a small group of kids out of the classroom and we gather in a circle for a time of wondering about the story.
What did you like best?
What part is most important?
Where are you in the story or what part is about you?
I wonder if there is any part we could leave out and still have everything we need?
The kids touch the wooden story pieces as we move through the questions. Some answers are silly and some are thoughtful and some are both. We sit with those questions for a few minutes and move back into the classroom to work. I begin to help kids get the supplies they need to respond to the story. I watch as they build Legos, sort beads, paint with watercolors, and draw with pastels. I respond in my own way as I busily move through the classroom, talking with kids and helping them settle into their work. After several minutes, the bell rings and we gather around the circle again. Missy leads us out of Godly Play and into Eucharist with a blessing.
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Later that morning, as I take the bread and wine with my family, I wonder where I am in the story of Noah. During Eucharist I am often overwhelmed by a feeling of invitation and belonging as well as deep, deep gratitude. Maybe in this story, I am the dove. I have found a home and I have settled. I have been invited to participate in the kingdom of God and through that good, hard work I have formed deep friendships. I have been encouraged and challenged and shown grace. I am building my nest as I go through the simple, daily rhythms of ordinary life and I am so grateful to do that in the midst of people who know and love me. And that part doesn’t feel ordinary, it feels sacred.