Sunday, January 27, 2013


This was a class in which I left thinking A) We have all really learned something here today and B) My, do I have so much more to learn.  Certainly, one of the more challenging aspects of a children's class is facilitating meaningful dialogue so that these tender, rapidly expanding minds have the opportunity to meaningfully explore spiritual concepts. Of course, it is much simpler and easier to spoon-feed a pre-determined definition of 'courage' to the group, and then move on to art.  Because let's face it--when one opens the floor to a 4-year-old, the risks of getting completely sidetracked on a playmobil tangent are greatly increased. But the chances of hearing some seriously thoughtful insights? Inevitable. 

Today we learned and studied the quotation:

"Armed with the power of Thy name nothing can ever hurt me, and with Thy love in my heart all the world's afflictions can in no wise alarm me." Baha'u'llah

And before I knew it, a discussion on the word 'armed' found us grappling with such issues as guns and violence, policemen and bad guys. I muddled my way through an explanation of how people can protect their physical bodies with armor and weapons, but that Baha'u'llah's power is so much greater: He can protect our souls. Our bodies still may get hurt, but our souls can never be harmed if we call on the power of His name. We do this through prayer and trusting in Him. And when we trust that Baha'u'llah will keep us safe and go ahead and do something that is scary, we are practicing courage. 

The children talked about how policemen have special training to safely handle guns and that sometimes it can be necessary to protect people. I acknowledged that violence can be necessary sometimes and has been an acceptable form of problem-solving in the past, but that Baha'u'llah is now challenging us to solve our problems with peace and unity. Baha'u'llah assures us that if we arm ourselves with virtues, we can bring peace to the world. (I must admit, I didn't even come close to being this coherent in the moment.)

They had a LOT to say about this issue and it left me realizing I need to read up on the intersection of children (especially boys) and play and violence. And first and foremost, what Baha'u'llah has to say about it. Please, please, please, send me your comments, book recommendations, insights into this area.

As for the actual class, the children spelled the name of Baha'u'llah out with cloth letters, taking turns and matching them to this picture:

I didn't help them with this at all, and it was neat to see their process and self-correction.

During art, they traced the entire quotation themselves, which I had printed in outline form. They then got an envelope with all the letters in 'Baha'u'llah' and had to glue them in the proper order. I was blown away by their hard work and concentration during what amounted to a very long project. Even the younger ones did remarkably well and were SO proud of themselves for completing it. I guess the elementary school teacher in me just can't resist the literacy lessons...

Does concentrating on Elijah count? No? Well, MOST of the children were working hard...

We just welcomed back the 2-year-olds to the group as well after previously limiting it to 3-6 year-olds. I need to do a better job of accommodating them in the future...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I apologize for the delay. We just bought a house and then my dear sweet husband promptly left for Haifa, Israel for 3 weeks of consulting work. It has been a wonderful, exciting, challenging period, and we are so very grateful for what Baha'u'llah has so graciously handed us. Now back to children's class!

We have completed two classes on truthfulness since last I updated. Both times we spent a good amount of time discussing Baha'ullah's quotation:

"Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues. Without truthfulness, progress and success, in all the worlds of God, are impossible for any soul."

We talked about what a foundation on a building is and how important it is for the integrity of the entire structure. It supports everything above; without it, the entire building crumbles. In the same way, truthfulness supports all the other virtues. Without truthfulness, true love, patience, justice, kindness, etc. cannot exist. The example that seemed to resonate with the children was that of a child giving a gift, but changing their mind and taking it back. The child may have been pretending to be generous, but without truthfulness there really wasn't any generosity at all. Such is the case with all the other virtues. And what a serious consequence: our souls cannot grow without truthfulness.  

Last week, we read The Empty Pot during the first class, in which a little boy in China becomes emperor after proving himself truthful. During art, the children each got a set of construction paper shapes (ie. blocks) which they used to design and assemble their own buildings. They had to consider which 'block' should be the foundation and write 'truthfulness' on it. They also each wrote out the entire quotation on the back, some without assistance and some tracing dotted lines. It was challenging and they were quite proud of their final products. 

This week we watched a Eunice and Eliot puppet show and had a great time playing, 'Who ate the cookie from the cookie jar?' We all got to practice telling the truth about whether we actually had the cookie or not. During art (mostly because I was unprepared) we made another building, but this time the children cut out their own blocks and collaborated to create one giant building. I had taped a few pieces of paper together and hung them on a wall. They got really into this, ultimately deciding that their building would be an underwater seafood restaurant/church catering to monsters. Good times, I tell you. 

There were a few different combinations of kids lately due to absences, and I must say it is helpful to observe how differently children behave when the group dynamics are altered. It is a good reminder of how complex we human beings are, and also how superficial behavior can be. And how those behaviors do not in any way add up to our realities. But isn't that the work of spiritual education? To gradually align our outsides with our insides until eventually, in one of the worlds of God, they mirror each other perfectly. To be truthful to our inner reality.