Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Creation Story with Seniors

On Friday, my daughter and I made our way to the Senior Center after I picked her up from school to share a Godly Play story with some of the residents. Many of you know that I have recently told Godly Play stories to these seniors as a part of a larger worship service. This marked my first time to share a story in a smaller group without enlarging the materials. I prepared the Creation story, because I thought it went well with the season here in Berlin transitioning to Berlin. I also thought the Seniors would be able to easily see the wooden boards with each day of creation on them.

I have wanted to try the smaller group setting from the beginning, but the staff at the Senior Center felt it better to try the stories out first as part of a worship service, because the Lutheran liturgy is familiar to them. The liturgy gave them a point of reference to try something new.

In the meantime, I've been blessed to correspond with Lois Howard, a Godly Play trainer in the States, who has worked with Alzheimer's patients for 25 years. Following her advice, I did something that is usually a no-no for GP storytellers: I looked the five ladies in the eye as I told the story. This made all the difference in the world! Lois explained that she learned this after having told a story and looking up to find everyone asleep.: )  The ladies were so engaged this time and really participated in the Wondering like never before.

The Creation story begins with the question, "What is the best gift that you have ever received?" I was struck that not one of the women mentioned "things". Instead, two of the women answered, "My children," right away. I realized that one of the gifts that Seniors give us is to gently remind us of the things that are most important in life. 

During the Wondering, the questions about which day you like the best or which one is the most important brought up some long forgotten memories. One woman said that the board with the animals reminded her of the turtles that her sons kept as pets when they were little. She proceeded to tell us about how turtles are faster than one would think and how they escaped and ran away one day. 

One lady was not able to speak very clearly, so I could not understand her German at all. The ergotherapist was fortunately there to help "translate" her words, so I could understand. She liked the day with the sun, moon and stars the best and added that human life would not be possible without the sun. 

The whole session lasted for over an hour until it was time for the residents to go to their evening meal. I had never seem them chat this long or this lively before, so I was excited. It also added a lovely dynamic having my 8-year-old there. There was both the wisdom of the very young and the very aged. A veritable feast of the mind and heart.

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