Thursday, October 29, 2009

"My son cried when it was time to leave"

Different populations in the community have different needs. So when we arise to be of service to them, we strive to adapt our activities to meet their needs. Given the literally unquenchable thirst for children’s classes throughout the country, it’s not surprising that this core activity has multiplied and blossomed in cluster after cluster. But what about that energetic and rambunctious population known as toddlers? Well, the friends in the Corinne True (Wilmette), IL (A) cluster have done some creative thinking and come up with a unique take on another core activity (the devotional meeting), which they have named Pray and Play. Here’s a description of the first event; they’re clearly onto something!

A new family devotional gathering has started in a neighboring community in our cluster, which I attended yesterday.

It is called Pray and Play, and was held at the home of a new grandmother. This gathering was designed specifically for families with toddlers. While older children can attend children’s classes, toddlers are too young for this activity, so Pray and Play was created for them. . . .

Five toddlers, ranging from 1 to 3 attended. This first time around they were all Bahá’ís, but friends will also be invited to future gatherings.

We began by the host leading the group in a few songs and prayers. Then the children decorated a “prayer wand”, which was a rolled-up newspaper covered in shiny aluminum foil. They pasted the “O God, guide me” prayer on the wand and tied on ribbons. Even my son, who was the youngest, was able to participate, putting stickers on the prayer, followed each time by saying, "Yay" and clapping his hands.

At the end of the class, the doorbell rang. It was an Area Teaching Committee member who had come to support this new activity by helping with the clean-up!

Then the children started getting rowdy—chasing each other around, so we moved outdoors where there was a hill in the host's backyard. The children ran so fast, it was hard to take even one photo of them. My son cried when it was time to go home.

Attending this event also inspired me to finally put in action a desire I'd had to start a similar gathering. So I will be hosting a similar Pray and Play meeting every month, beginning in two weeks. I am able to meet so many parents of small children, so I think it will be pretty easy to find people from the wider community to invite as well.

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