Monday, May 22, 2017

Aufbaukurs in Halle / Godly Play Training & Retreat in Halle

Godly Play Germany offers Taster Days and Core Trainings all over Germany as well as a bi-annual conference. Over the years, though, the Godly Play community has expressed a need for other things like further training, community with other storytellers, and spiritual retreats. Because of this, the trainers have developed something called an "Aufbaukurs", a weekend that includes a new aspect of Godly Play to explore, some training, and many elements of a spiritual retreat. 

Villa Jühling in Halle, Germany, where we stayed. 

In March, my friend Heidi, who is a trainer in Wittenberg, and I led such a weekend in the city of Halle with 10 other women from Saxony, Berlin, and the Black Forest. Together we explored the Old Testament enrichment stories that deal with suffering and conflict: The Garden of Eden, Ruth and Job, and some Godly Play-inspired stories about the teachings of Jesus: The Lord's Prayer, The Sermon on the Mount, Blessing the Children, and the Emmaus Disciples. 

I'd like to tell you about some of the highlights. One was the community aspect. While some religious movements divide people over doctrine and other issues, Godly Play really brings people together. The twelve of us were from different backgrounds and confessions, but each woman came with a genuine openness that quickly established a trusting, sharing atmosphere. 

Our Wondering conversations after each story were thought-provoking and uplifting. Most of the time, I wonder with children and people that are new to Godly Play. I learn so much from these two groups of people, but it was really different to wonder together with a group of diverse, mature women who practiced Godly Play themselves. 

We also experienced two full Response Times sessions, where each of us could creatively explore however we wished. For some of the women, this was challenging, because they are usually accompanying children, and the children are the ones doing the creating. For others, it was pure joy to be able to sit for a longer period of time and creatively respond to the stories  without being interrupted. It was freeing for me, because I realized that I don't often regularly make time for a creative response to Scripture. One of the things that I am "bringing home" from this weekend is to make time for that on a weekly basis in response to Lectio Divina.

Our time ended on Sunday morning with an interactive, ecumenical worship service centered around the Lord's Prayer. Each of us then made our way home with our spiritual tanks filled and excited about our further path with God and the children in our lives. 


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