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The Art of Reconciliation

Dealing with anger

by Claire Law

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To explore how communities and connecting with each other can support the process of reconciliation.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (The Art of Reconciliation) and the means to display them.


  1. Have Slide 1 showing as the students arrive.

    Say something like, ‘Today, I want us to get ourselves comfy and calm. Can you make sure that youre sitting comfortably? [Allow a short time for movement.] Can you rest your hands gently in your lap? [Demonstrate, if possible, by also being seated.] For a few moments, lets concentrate on our breathing. Take a moment to breathe deeply and slowly.’

  2. Point out that none of us knows what sort of morning each of us has had so far. For some of us, it will have been stressful and we may be feeling tense and grumpy. Hopefully, now that weve taken a few deep breaths, we should all be feeling a bit calmer.

  3. Show Slide 2.

    Explain that this assembly is going to examine the times when we don’t feel calm, such as when we feel irritated, annoyed or angry with others. We might feel this way when someone lets us down, offends us or hurts us.

  4. Ask the students, ‘Has anyone felt angry over the past few weeks? (If appropriate, allow time for students to raise their hands.)

    Point out that experiencing anger is part of being human. The question is, how should we respond when we feel angry?

  5. Show Slide 3.

    One approach is to decide that we don’t want to be around others for a while. We may need some time away from those who’ve annoyed us. We may feel that we want nothing more to do with them. Perhaps we don’t want to be around anyone at all. It’s part of being human to feel like this.

    It can often be a good idea to have some time alone so that we can reflect on whats happened and get some space. There are also times when, for our own safety, it is best to keep our distance from people who are hurting us. However, today, we are going to consider how connection with others can be another way to handle our feelings.

  6. Show Slide 4.

    In Hawaii, there is an ancient practice for dealing with hurt and anger as a community, which is called Hoʻoponopono. (Help with pronunciation is available at: The word comes from ho‘o meaning ‘to make’ and pono meaning ‘right’. The word pono is included twice to mean ‘doubly right’ or being right with both yourself and others. Hoʻoponopono is a process to help a person join with others to find reconciliation and gain a sense of peace instead of anger.

  7. Show Slide 5.

    Here, we see some Hawaiians practising Hoʻoponopono. The group will state the problem that a member of the group is experiencing. Everyone will have the chance to speak calmly about how they feel. If necessary, a period of silence will help people in the group to manage the difficult feelings they may be experiencing. The group will ask each other for forgiveness. Often, food is shared within the group to indicate that they want to move on together, leaving the anger in the past.

    The process is not easy, but is based on the idea that anger usually comes from contact with other humans, so healing can come from being with others. If it is not possible for family members to be part of this process, a community elder leads the session with other community members present. The rituals around this ancient practice help the people of Hawaii to practise the art of reconciliation in community.

  8. There are many examples in art where artists have tried to express this method of dealing with anger by turning towards others. Let’s take a look at some of them.

  9. Show Slide 6.

    This 2015 artwork is by an Aboriginal artist, Cassie Leatham, and is called Over Time We Come Together. It depicts people of different races and ethnic groups coming together to seek reconciliation and forgiveness from the anger caused by racism. It is powerful that the painting shows how dealing with such hurt is a community activity.

  10. Show Slide 7.

    This 1977 sculpture by Josefina de Vasconcellos, which was originally called Reunion before being retitled as Reconciliation, is similar. The artist explained, ‘The sculpture was originally conceived in the aftermath of the war. Europe was in shock, people were stunned. I read in a newspaper about a woman who crossed Europe on foot to find her husband, and I was so moved that I made the sculpture. Then I thought that it wasnt only about the reunion of two people but hopefully a reunion of nations which had been fighting.’

    Copies of this sculpture have since been placed in parts of the world that have seen conflict. They serve as a reminder that connection with others is a powerful way to deal with anger.

  11. Show Slide 8.

    These images are by Charlie Mackesy and are based on the Bible story of the prodigal son, the boy who hurts his father, but then returns to seek reconciliation. The painting on the left is called The Prodigal Daughter and the one on the right is called The Return of the Prodigal Son.

    Both remind us that connection with others is a way to deal with anger – not just the anger that we may feel towards another, but also the anger and frustration that we may feel within ourselves. For many people, connection with God is part of this process of healing and reconciliation as a response to anger.

Time for reflection

As we reflect on how what weve heard might relate to us, let’s take a moment again to be still, concentrate on our breathing and find a greater sense of calmness.

Repeat the breathing task from the ‘Assembly’, Step 1 to encourage emotional regulation in students/staff who may find this topic difficult. Staying calm will help them to process and learn from this content.

Lets recall a time recently when we have said or done something to annoy or upset someone else.

Lets think about how that made us feel, to know that they were hurt.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Lets also imagine how they might have been left feeling.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Now lets think about people who are part of a supportive community for us. When we feel angry or hurt, who can we turn to rather than remaining alone in our anger? These people will be different for each of us, but may include family members, friends, people in school or someone at the end of a phone line such as Childline.

Lets pause for a moment to call these people to mind.

Pause to allow time for thought.

We reflect, too, on a recent situation when someone hurt or angered us.

- How have we dealt with this so far?
- Is there anything we would want to change about how we have responded?
- Could connecting with the person who has hurt us be part of our response?
- If not, what else might help us to move towards reconciliation?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Lets take a moment to reflect on how a connection with God might help us to handle anger and hurt. What does the parable of the prodigal son mean to us?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Dear God,
Each of us has been hurt by others and has hurt other people.
We have experienced anger and we have caused others to be angry at times.
We pray for the courage and strength to seek connection with others who can support us in the difficult process of reconciliation.
Give us the gift of discernment to identify the best people to turn to when we feel angry and hurt.
We thank you, God, that, like the prodigal son, we can be reconciled with you.
We can be the prodigal son or daughter who finds connection and healing with you.
We pray especially for those people who are currently finding life hard because they feel angry and hurt.
Help them to know of your love today.

Publication date: April 2020   (Vol.22 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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