Stories for community building

Everyone watched silently as the tiger's stripes reappeared as if by magic! We can all engage with a well told story and here's a simple way of being ready at the drop of a hat...

2 cut out images of tigers, one with coloured stripes, one white with a paintbrush
Simple props to bring the stories to life.

This was the first story session at an All-Age Regional Gathering in Bolton where, of course, we were not sure how many Friends would come on the day, or the age range of those people. Stories offered a playful way of exploring the theme of 'changing inside' and liberty and freedom. Godly play style of story telling was used to enable Friends to either just enjoy the story and play; or additionally to learn about the style of storytelling to use it themselves in their own meetings.

Watching a paper tiger's stripes reappear requires that we suspend disbelief - and this can happen for many people if the focus is on the tale rather than on the telling of it to the group. The story of Ruth was also told and explored using Godly Play, with felt people, a table desert and a new green land of felt.

Friends had the chance to experience this style of story telling as if they were the children in the meeting and then had time for questions. Some Friends at the second regional gathering were uncomfortable at being treated like children (the activity was modelled to run exactly as you might run it with a group of small children). This prompted Friends to think about how we treat children differently from how we might like to be treated; what is necessary and what is inequality? Other Friends really enjoyed having a story told in such a focused way saying that they were able to explore the tale in a new way and make connections to the present day.

Figures can be bought or made – made figures can be like decorated egg cosies or made of thin card with holes for fingers so that they can 'walk' about. The focus is on simplicity and offering the opportunity to explore the story in a variety of way afterwards. The lack of faces is deliberate, so that they can be interpreted to be feeling anything anyone feels the story demands. It's good to have lots of figures with a group that would like to explore the story through play afterwards.

These have been rich sessions of story telling and exploring meaning for adults and children alike, with the added bonus of crafts for all levels of ability, truly All Age.

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