My Reflections & Stories are original (and some personal), so how can others use them?
Pieces without personal content
If you find one of these you’d like you use or adapt, go for it! Everything on this site is in written form and some are accompanied by a video of me sharing the reflection during worship. Feel free to put any of my ideas into your own words and otherwise fit the needs of your learning community. Please credit me for the inspiration whether your final presentation is a “whole cloth” version or an adapted version of my reflection/story.
Pieces with personal content
I’ve drawn heavily from my life experience in my Reflections for All Ages. Yet, you may find that my more personal reflections deliver a message that you feel will really speak to your community, so I hope you’ll find a way to use or adapt them while still making an authentic presentation. Some ideas:
- Introduce the piece by saying something like, “I learned about something that happened to this DRE (Director of Religious Education) and I think her story has something worthwhile for us to consider today…”
- Is there a personal story of your own that’s similar to mine, which comes to mind as you browse my website? Tell your own story to illustrate the idea you are trying to convey. Personal stories – your own – are very effective!
- Allow one of my stories to be a springboard for your own creative launch into a new, original story!
- Please credit me appropriately.
Why both Reflections and Stories? What’s the difference?
What a great question! I use these terms together and somewhat interchangeably. I believe that really great stories are timeless because the speak so compellingly across time, age, and culture. We humans are deeply wired, I believe, to hear a story and be drawn into it. Stories awaken our imaginations in general and our moral imaginations in particular.
Much of what I do in “Reflections for All Ages” is not narrative in nature. Instead, it is full of questions for the children and older congregants. It may involve sharing the results of my personal ruminations on a topic… what has taken shape in my mind upon deep reflection. I reflect aloud with – and for – the congregation, and invite them on a reflective ride with me.
Many of my pieces are reflective narrative or semi-narrated reflection. I make a mash-up of approaches to accomplish faith-filled learning in a multigenerational worship setting.
I characterize my Reflections and Stories in these ways:
Note: You can use the Search box on the right to find stories of these types.
These are pieces I create through a process of reflection and brainstorming. Often, they are inspired by quotes, poems, song lyrics, art, film, or themes and characters in existing stories.
These are mined from my own life. To make these reflections teach effectively, I tell them with intention, focusing on what matters most for the day’s theme. I sometimes use poetic license to bend and adapt a personal story to be more effective, but I never do this at the expense of any authenticity. The stories must still be true to me.
Enacting a story can give it a presence and liveliness that third person narration might lack. Enacting a story is taking on the persona of one of the characters in the story and telling the story, as that character, from the first person perspective. You can shed new light on a story’s meaning by becoming a character who is not your obvious first choice to personify. Imagining a minor character’s perspective, motivations, and opinions about the action can yield a wholly new understanding of the story’s meaning. The character you become can narrate the story which has occurred in the past, or act it out in the present. Sometimes there are ways to have children and older congregants become unwitting characters on the spot!
These are how most people know stories. It is always better to memorize the story than to read it, because it allows you to make eye contact and better engage your audience. Narrated stories come to life when you can use different voices for various characters in the story.
These pieces make use of a key object that you have brought to show or share. Objects are often effective concrete symbols of abstract concepts. Objects help bring ideas to life because they serve to bridge the concrete and abstract. This helps not only children, whose abstract thinking skills don’t develop until about pre-adolescence, but adults also benefit from the added demension of understanding when they can see the object. When the object can be touched, heard, or even smelled and tasted by the children, the learning has the potential to be even more broadly received by all participants. If you feel drawn to these kinds of stories and reflections, make it a practice to collect and keep items that might come in handy sometime. You might keep a list of items to add to your collection for when the right time comes!
You can actively engage the children and the adults in your congregation by asking wide open, or open-ended questions for them to respond to. These are questions that we wonder about; questions that tug at our natural curiosity. When people respond to these questions, all responses are welcome and none are wrong. These are not questions with yes/no answers; they are not questions, the answer to which you have in mind and are waiting for someone to guess correctly. They are risky but exciting to pose and really liberating for the leader, since they affirm the wisdom and ideas present in the children and wider congregation.
Most importantly, please credit sources!
The purpose of this website is to share my original creations and interpretations in a cost-free, accessible manner. If you borrow something from here, please credit me and other sources as appropriate. And I’d love your feedback! Comments can be left, blog-like, with each Reflection.