Sunday, April 13, 2014

Can We Play Stations of the Cross?

"A soldier" nails "Jesus'" feet to the cross.

This year, I had every intent of visiting churches each Friday to carry on with praying the Stations with special needs in mind as we did last Lent.  However, as the old saying goes, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." 

Church visits on Fridays just did not happen for us this year.  But, that is not to say the Stations have not.  In fact, not only have we prayed the Stations at home using some of the resources mentioned in our prior Stations of the Cross round up, but we have also played (no typo with the "l" there) Stations.

The board we use to build balance beams, see saws and obstacle course elements has become "Jesus' cross".

Yes, you know you're Catholic when your little ones ask, "Mommy, can we go outside and play Stations?"  Catholic, with busy children who love dramatic play and learn by doing, that is.  

Here are some further scenes from our front yard:

The "soldier" walks behind "Jesus" as Jesus falls for the first time.  (And, yes, the young directress of these scenes ensured that "Jesus" fell three times and was helped by her multi-role playing self as "Simon of Cyrene".)

"Jesus" between falls.

Jesus being bound to the cross.

"Mary" with "Jesus", pieta-style

"Jesus" is laid in the tomb.

The women come to the tomb.

And because the directress likes a happy ending, the "angel" appears.

And "Jesus" has risen!
These scenes were narrated and "directed" completely by Nina, who has internalized the Stations so much so that she was able to  single-handedly direct her little brother, having him play Jesus as she took on every other role.  

The photos, I know, are not at the angles.  This was purposeful on my part since as my children were absorbed in praying the Stations through play, I did not want to intrude.  Thus, I stood at a distance.  

For the record, Luke plays and prays with his siblings in this way, too, sometimes.  He just happened to be engaged in something else at the time this spontaneous "Living Stations" unfolded on our front lawn.  And, to be honest, Luke's favorite way to pray the stations this year is with online with videos we find at Youtube.

Is my children's way of praying the Stations through play (and technology) conventional?  Perhaps not.  Does it spring from their own understanding and needs?  Most definitely.  Is it testimony to their desire to internalize the stories of our faith and share their love for Jesus? I think so.

How do the children in your life best come to know and love the stories, traditions and tenets of faith?  What unfolds when you say "yes" to their ages and stages and let them explore traditional prayers in self-directed ways? 

  Feel free to share about them here in a comment or on our Training Happy Hearts Facebook page.  If you leave a link to an idea, I will pin it on the Training Happy Hearts: A Call to Faith Formation in Young Children Pinterest board 

May your Holy Week be rich in prayer and blessings.


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