To show that bravery sometimes means admitting we need help
by The Revd Guy Donegan-Cross
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To show that bravery sometimes means admitting we need help.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a cardboard box with a toy furry animal inside it, together with something heavy (a tin or ball to create the movement would be helpful). There should be enough space to put a hand in the box, without being able to see the animal inside.
- Ask the children if any of them are feeling brave. Bring out your box and say that you have a pet inside it, but you need to be careful not to frighten it, as it may bite. Try to move the box, jiggling the heavy object around to give the impression there is a moving animal in the box. Very carefully put your hand in to try and calm the 'animal', getting 'bitten' in the process. For added effect, get a teacher, whom you have primed beforehand, to do the same.
Ask for a volunteer to try and stroke the animal. Allow them to put their hand in without looking. Give them a round of applause. (You might feel it appropriate to give some health and safety advice at this point about not putting hands in places you can't see into - such as animal holes and nests - it's OK today because of adult supervision.)
- Take out the 'animal', showing that it is, in fact, a toy. Say that we are often more afraid of things because we imagine them to be worse than they actually are. You may want to refer to the beginning of the film Monsters Inc., in which a monster, which at first seems terrifying, is in fact petrified of the little boy whom it is trying to scare.
- Say that there is an even better reason not to be afraid. Tell the children a story about a Native American boy whose tribe had a unique practice for training young braves.
On the night of the boy's thirteenth birthday, having already learned hunting, scouting, and fishing skills, he was taken into a dense forest to spend the entire night alone. Until then he had never been away from the security of his family and tribe. But on this night he was blindfolded and taken several miles away. When he took off the blindfold, he was in the middle of a thick wood, by himself - all night long.
Every time a twig snapped, he visualized a wild animal ready to pounce. Every time an animal howled, he imagined a wolf leaping out of the darkness. Every time the wind blew, he wondered what more sinister sound it masked. It was a terrifying night.
After what seemed like an eternity, dawn broke and the first rays of sunlight entered the interior of the forest. Looking around, the boy saw flowers, trees, and the outline of the path. Then, to his utter astonishment, he beheld the figure of a man standing just a few feet away, armed with a bow and arrow.
It was the boy's father. He had been there all night long.
- Say that Christians believe the main reason we don't need to be afraid is because whatever we face, we are never alone. Jesus promises never to leave us. The Bible says that he always holds us in his hands. Sometimes the bravest thing to do is to admit we are scared and trust him. Point out that many religious people of all faiths believe that, whatever might frighten us, God is always there and able to comfort us.
Time for reflection
God who knows all our fears,
You never leave us.
When we are scared, help us to trust you.
'Give us hope' (Come and Praise, 87)
Publication date: May 2003 (Vol.5 No.5) Published by SPCK, London, UK.