It’s April and my family of four is hunkering down at our remote cabin for lockdown. My seven year old son is playing and replaying The Flood with his beloved animal figurines while we wobbly parents manage the many lockdown impacts. We are preparing, gathering, planning, connecting, worrying, navigating the vulnerable Now and the uncertain Future. While we do so, we witness repetitive play and God’s story assisting this child to process his internal and external world. Aren’t kids amazing, picking up the vibrations all around them and finding a way through with play?
Next came a request for help building a mega cardboard Ark and the play intensifies. The supply of tape is devoured. Each family member is pulled into supporting the deepening project.
And then comes a chance to share this story with his church family.
At St. Helen’s Point Grey, we Godly Play* storytellers decided that post-Easter, we would drop the planned schedule of stories with an intention to connect more with the kids in our care. This felt really good. The children’s favourite stories became our focus through the rest of the pandemic Sundays of spring--with the twist that the visual was to be crafted by taking still photos of the toys available to me at the cabin, not the beautiful Godly Play materials in the church’s basement. The co-creation in these photo shoots became my family’s end of week task. My kids took this responsibility quite seriously and I was moved by both their moments of quiet focus and intention and their colourful, creative interpretations.
During Children’s Time of the Zoom services, our Storyteller Dunni shared each photographed story with care and love. We are thankful for the kind feedback from St. Helen’s parishioners who appreciated the closer contact with the kids’ faith formation in action at such an unsettling time, seeing their engaged faces on Zoom as each dedicated story was told. I look back and see that momentum and sense of purpose was strong. Now nearing the end of summer break, there is work to be done to push through the hazy webs of Zoom fatigue, to find more ‘adaption/adjustment’ energy to creatively support faith formation into this uncertain autumn. Onwards we go!
Story by Erin Bruchet: Erin is a mother of two school-aged kids and a supporter of and Storyteller with St. Helen’s Point Grey Godly Play program. When away from cabin life in the South Chilcotin Mountains, she runs parent support groups with Family Services North Shore.
*Godly Play is a Montessori based approach to spiritual formation that involves storytelling, prayer, art, silence and liturgy which serve as an introduction to the life of faith, the rhythm of worship and religious language. Godly Play is based upon the recognition that children have an innate sense of the presence of God.
The Covid Chronicles are stories shared from around the diocese of what ministry in and with families is like in this strange season. Read them all here. We know it’s not all roses but it’s not all thorns either. The small steps we are taking to connect with each other, the experiments in online worship and formation, the space we make to feel all the feelings – that’s what we want to share. We’ve all been on a steep learning curve – at times exhilarating and at times exhausting. Where have we met God in the midst of it?