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Can I trust you? Father's Day

To understand how we learn to trust those with whom we are familiar and whose love and care we have experienced for ourselves.

by Laurence Chilcott

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To understand how we learn to trust those with whom we are familiar and whose love and care we have experienced for ourselves.

Preparation and materials

  • This assembly can be linked with Fathers’ Day, in which case some preliminary discussion about this celebration may be appropriate.

Assembly

  1. Today, our story is about a botanist, which the name given to a scientist who studies plants. There are two deliberate mistakes – things that should not have happened in the story. See if you can spot them.
  2. Mr Carter-Brown was a very determined man. He was a botanist and wanted to collect specimens of the rarest plants in Britain. He would consult his textbooks and journals to find out where the rare plants were located and then go off in search of them. It wasn’t easy – sometimes they were in the most inaccessible places and sometimes they were very difficult to find because so few of them existed.

    On this particular day, he was in search of the Snowdonia hawkweed – a flower that is only found in Snowdonia, nowhere else in the world. The Snowdonia range of mountains covers hundreds of square miles, so Mr Carter-Brown knew that finding it would not be an easy task. He also knew that he hawkweed grew in very few places on the mountains and no one had seen it for years. He had decided that he was going to search until he found it and didn’t care how long it was going to take.

    Mr Carter-Brown had spent the day tramping the mountains and was just about to give up when he spotted something high up on a ledge that looked promising. There was no way he could climb up to the ledge because it was just about vertical and he was no climber, but he was sure that if he walked further up the mountain, he could come down to the ledge from the other side and look down to examine the flower more closely.

    Just ten minutes later, he was peering over the ledge and whooping with excitement, convinced that it really was a Snowdonia hawkweed. Mr Carter-Brown, with trowel in hand, reached down over the ledge, determined to uproot the flower and take it home in triumph. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t quite reach down far enough to get at it. Carefully he wriggled a little further until his chest was over the top of the ledge. He grunted and strained, but still he was short of his prize. He tried to wriggle further out until only his waist and legs were on firm ground, but that made him feel quite dizzy and he carefully dug in his feet in order to slowly pull the weight of his body back from the ledge.

    Red faced, panting and trembling a little after his exertion, Mr Carter-Brown noticed a small boy a little distance away who had been standing watching. Just like most small boys, he was inquisitive and wondered what this man was up to.

    ‘What you doin’?’, he asked.

    Mr Carter-Brown wasn’t in the mood to talk to an inquisitive boy, so he pretended not to hear him.

    ‘What you doin’?, the boy repeated – a little louder this time.
    ‘Nothing you need to be concerned about’, said Mr Carter-Brown, hoping the boy would go away.
    ‘Why?’ This was how the boy always responded when he was told to mind his own business.

    An idea came to Mr Carter-Brown, just as he was about to tell the boy to go away.

    ‘Do you want to earn a fiver?, he asked the boy.
    ‘What for?, asked the boy suspiciously.


    Mr Carter-Brown explained what he was doing and how he could just not quite reach the flower he had been searching for. He suggested that he could hold the boy by his feet and suspend him over the ledge to reach the flower for him. The boy was small and Mr Carter-Brown was quite strong, so he assured him there would be no problem. He held up the five pound note, the boy took it and then, without another word, ran off, leaving a surprised and very cross Mr Carter-Brown standing there with his mouth wide open.

    After the initial shock of what had happened, Mr Carter-Brown was left muttering to himself and more convinced than ever that little boys are not to be trusted. He tried to reach the flower a few more times, perhaps thinking that, by some miracle, his arms might have grown in the last 20 minutes, but, of course, nothing had changed. He was just about to give up and go home when the boy suddenly appeared again . . . and he wasn’t alone.
    ‘This is my Dad, he said. ‘I can trust him.’

    In no time at all, the boy was lowered over the ledge by his father and the flower presented to a very grateful Mr Carter-Brown.
    ‘What a lovely little boy you have’, he said to the father (not quite what he had been thinking a short time before!)

  3. I am sure you will have spotted the things that should not have happened. First, Mr Carter-Brown could be prosecuted for picking or uprooting wild flowers, especially rare ones. Today, even relatively common flowers, such as bluebells and primroses, are protected in the wild. The second thing is that the little boy should have been more wary of talking to this stranger, especially a man offering money. Although in this story his father was not far away, it was still very unwise for him to be out of his father’s sight on a mountainside.

  4. Of course, the important point of this story is that the boy said he could trust his father.
  5. Trust is a very important quality and we need to know whom we can trust. We cannot trust the word of a stranger or a bully or someone who has let us down before. We cannot trust a liar or someone whom we know to be dishonest. We should be able to trust our parents, our friends and our teachers, as well as people in our community who are there to help us.
  6. Trust goes both ways. Are you trustworthy? Can people rely on you? Trust is a quality that is worth developing so everyone will know you are someone they can depend on.

Time for reflection

An opportunity could be taken to reinforce an awareness of ‘stranger danger’. Also, the relationship between trust and faith can be explored at various levels. A discussion of conservation related to national parks and forests, the National Trust, protection of wildlife and so on would also follow on naturally from the story.

Prayer
Father God,
we thank you for the beauty of our world – the flowers and trees, mountains and seas; birds and animals; people and places.
Forgive us when we take them for granted and fail to appreciate them.
May we do our part to look after our world as we live our lives.
Amen.

Song/music

‘Can you be sure that the rain will fall’ (Come and Praise, 31)

Publication date: June 2013   (Vol.15 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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