Rocks in My Bag

I thought about calling this post “Rocks in My Pocketbook” but I realize it would date me. Pocketbook is a bit passe, like etui or reticule or bodkin. So “bag” will suffice .

Kingston Congregational Church

Our church school’s curriculum for this year is using elements of music, art, writing, and drama in teaching the Bible. I was asked to conduct a class and develop a lesson plan around the Creation Story in Genesis. I hadn’t taught middle school kids in over 40 years and forgot how much fun they were. (After a few years teaching junior high, I transferred to the high school and spent most of my career with older students.) I’d forgotten how hilarious this middle school-age group can be.

We started by discussing the meaning of Genesis as “a beginning”. Today, we would center around when God created the animals. In my lesson plan, God interviews the creatures in heaven for jobs on earth. Each student was asked to choose an animal, describe what it would look like and what job it would have on earth. God was especially interested in how each animal would get along with the other inhabitants of the planet. The dialogue was quite animated. Those animals awaiting their interview session sat painting self-portraits on rocks. That didn’t stop them from jumping into the present conversation between interviewer and interviewee to give helpful suggestions. (If only we could all go to job interviews with a team of coaches!)

The sloth had decided he would sit in a tree observing the world and eating bugs. The hummingbird  was going to help the bees pollinate. The unicorn would be using the special powers in the magical powder inside her horn to make life better for the humans on earth. (The interview was interrupted by a  group discussion about what those specific magical powers might be and how they might help the environment.) When it was the baby eagle’s turn, he decided he would just be a baby bird and spend most of his time on earth learning to fly. Most of living is in the learning, we philosophized. Heads nodded in agreement over at the painting table.

Too soon, it was time to clean up. The unicorn commented that this would make a great play. I heartily concurred, emphasising the importance of gathering ideas before putting pen to paper. And suddenly, the possibility of being on stage, caused them all to morph into their animal personas. The baby eagle kept leaving the room, only to fly back in and fall over. I cautioned everyone to keep him away from the windows. They led him to the safety of the center of the room where he promptly collapsed in a feathery heap. Then, the sloth eased his body onto a chair and dug his claws into the upholstery to watch as the hummingbird flitted around chirping and the unicorn began an Irish step dance. The baby eagle continued to swoop in and out, inevitably falling on his face and having to be picked up.

It was time to go to Fellowship Hall for the coffee hour. I asked the class to review what they’d learned and everyone agreed they’d been too busy having fun and hadn’t learned a single thing. I knew this would go over big with their parents when they related the results of the morning’s Bible class with Mrs. Sweeney. I felt the need to clarify what we’d learned amidst all the frivolity. I reviewed the story of Genesis. I reiterated what they’d said they would do as animals to make the earth a better place and how they would help the humans on the planet. And then, I let them loose, requesting they help the baby eagle get down the stairs and safely back to his mother in one piece.They left their rocks behind to dry.

The following Sunday, I brought their stone art to church in my pocketbook. As I reached in to carefully retrieve each special creation, people in the pews were curious. Why was Clare going around church handing out rocks to children? Doesn’t she usually have fruit snacks, oyster crackers, cat treats, dog bones and gum in there?  That bag looks heavy! Should we be worried? 

But, some were not fazed at all. Clare dolling out rocks to children? Nothing strange about that.

Strange is relative. It has many meanings. Certainly, it may seem odd to some that an atheist would go to church or even use the Bible to teach children a lesson on living together in peace and harmony. At this age, very little ever really strikes me as odd and so, I guess that’s why I enjoy being surrounded by the exuberance and chaos imagination evokes in the young.

I’ll be in church tomorrow with my pocketbook full of goodies because Charley bought three large bags of candy for trick or treaters and no one showed up due to the fact we had a storm and were without power for the entire week. Sitting in the dark with three bags of candy bars is just not  good for the soul to say nothing of the body.

Have a peaceful Sunday!






36 thoughts on “Rocks in My Bag

  1. Lovely post, Clare. As I started reading I was a bit fazed about the notion of you teaching Sunday School and going to church as it didn’t quite seem in keeping with what I thought I knew of you but I read on anyway and really enjoyed it. By the way, did you (possibly with Charley’s help) eat all three bags of treats??? I hope so 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mary, I wish I could tell you otherwise, but I have no boundaries when candy is around. Many find it strange that I go to church, but Charley asked me to find him one when he was diagnosed. I went with him to the Congregational Church and they were so open-minded, kind and welcoming that I ended up going to services with him on Sundays. He’s now a Deacon and I truly believe it has helped in bringing him into remission. Strange things……..

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s wonderful that the Congregational Church was and is there for Charley (and for you). Strange things happen – what’s the quote – ‘There are more things in heaven and in earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in our philosophy.’

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That was the quote that came to mind. I actually referenced it in one of the chapters of Last Train to Kingston. I told Charley I would go to the services with him for the first few weeks and then he was on his own. That was 6 years ago. He finds it comforting to have me there with him, and it’s proving to be a valuable learning experience for me.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This post was worth waiting for Clare. Hilarious! There are so many lessons kids can teach us. As I know you’d agree, the best learning happens when we’re having fun. I loved the premise of your lesson. The rock painting was a great idea. I wish my grandies were in your class. Glad your electricity has been restored. Can we call that ‘en-light-enment’ or em-power-ment’? Moot question. I think you have both 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I loved this, Clare! What an imaginative lesson you taught and the kids responded with much creativity. I especially like that they showed they are still children on the cusp of being teenagers. I guess some of your kids are already teens. It’s such a confusing, exciting age.

    I used to teach most levels of Jewish school and also found the kids imaginative and fun. One of my favorite 6th grade lessons was Noah’s Ark. After reading the traditional story (a bit pared down tho) we noted that Noah had no say in the matter. God ordered and Noah complied. The kids were to re-write the story from Noah’s POV, in any format they liked. Some of the Noahs proved to be argumentative or whiny or complacent, and others were advocates for the animals. Some wanted to bargain with God. Kids wrote rap songs, verse, plays, diaries, news articles, and stories, all from a very particular Noah. One of my most unique students created a crossword puzzle.

    And then they all went home and told their parents they hadn’t done anything that day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dearest Lucy, I will scoot right over now. Roxie had a very bad time of it a few weeks ago after her annual vets appointment. She had to be put on medicine for her thyroid and the dosage allotted was too high for her. She just lay in my lap all night crying and I was so worried. We have it all sorted out,now, but it was an anxious couple of days. I’ll tell her you send your hugs. Love, Ethel

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Having had a 12-year parochial school education, myself, I came to the lesson plan with plenty of background. As an adult, looking at the Bible from a literary perspective, the stories have many more levels to reflect upon. Our pastor is a wealth of historical knowledge and I learn something from his sermons every week. And I’m all for provoking thought.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A lovely post, Clare. I was never involved in education after I ceased being a recipient, but from this it seems like I’ve missed out on a lot of fun and rewarding experiences!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My sis-in-law taught Sunday school for decades and loved it. On the other hand, I’m allergic to kids, especially the small ones. This was a great idea and they had something at the end. Rocks are a big deal to kids at least they were to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your post is so ironic and especially touching for me today. Yesterday, a dear friend was buried. She died the previous Sunday. She was in the midst of doing a children’s bible study program about the environment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bernadette, You have had so much sadness in your life lately. I’m truly sorry to hear about the death of your friend. Her bible study program is such a wonderful idea and her loss must be sorely felt by many. Please accept my condolences. Love, Clare

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I was struck by how, with your guidance, the children felt free to let out their silly, exuberant sides.
    The baby eagle who kept falling from the sky was especially fun.

    My daughter, a structural engineer, has been teaching the first grade class at her church for the past four years. It’s been lots of fun for her and a real education in the strengths, weaknesses and foibles of her little students. When I talk to her on Sunday nights, she always has an interesting story to tell–and it’s not about engineering.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Clare. I’ve missed you around the blog world but wanted to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. I hope you’re just busy with other stuff and will come back soon. May the New Year shine bright on you and yours. Love from Shari

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Sharon. Thanks for your good wishes and I’m sending you my own hope that your New Year will be a great one. I haven’t done much on social media lately, but Roxie is clammering to do a New Year’s post, so we’ll see hown that goes.Now, I’m heading to your blog to visit for awhile. Love, Clare

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, Shari. You’ve been quite busy. It was enjoyable catching up on your recent posts. Charley is doing great. He heads for Johns Hopkins tomorrow for his monthly clinical study and consultation. I’ll stay hoje this time and take care of some book business. Yes, it looks like a busy spring because of the new mystery coming out in April. And I’ve begun to write the third book in the series. So, I’m taking advantage of a few days down-time to visit with old blogging friends. I hope all is well with you, too. Are you familiar with another blogger, Herb W. Bryce. He was caretaker for his wife who suffered from Alzheimers and he has written a book about it. Also, Mary Smith writes of her experiences in dealing with her dad’s dementia. I’ve followed both for a long while and appreciate the wisdom they share in dealing with this terrible illness. Take care, Love clare


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