The Story is the whole reason we’re here. We want to imagine ourselves into each of God’s sacred stories and parables and see what God has to teach us as we experience it. Even if we’ve heard the story a hundred times, it can still surprise us. When we enter a story, we always need to make sure that we’re ready to see something new.
I’ve found that the Godly Play lessons that I present always go better and deeper when I start preparing early in the week, so that the lesson can sort of stew in my mind over several days. I start by reading the story script in the lesson book a few times, noting the particular hints in the margins about what physically to do during the telling of the story. (What to move when, etc.) I also read the story from the Bible and think about anything I might want to add during our wondering time or during the presentation of the story, if I feel so led. I’ll read the stories several times during the week, thinking about what general activity ideas I might want to present as springboards for the children, and what themes we might want to talk about as to how they apply to the children’s lives (and our lives too.)
Then, sometime on Saturday, I’ll sit down with the materials (I bring them home the previous Sunday for practice if I’m not going to be at church between Sundays) and in a private place where I won’t be disturbed, I’ll practice giving the lesson a few times. It’s important that I don’t read the lesson, but that I know it well enough to tell it by heart. I will sometimes put out the photo that comes with each set of materials, to jog my memory on the order of the story if I need to. And with really long, involved stories I might have a single notecard beside me to make me feel secure. But if I’ve practiced enough, I shouldn’t need many cues.
The Godly Play foundation stresses that the storyteller keep her eyes on the materials, not the children, so that the storyteller disappears and everyone focuses on the story. This is very difficult for me to do. I do the best I can, but as long as I’m completely IN the story, experiencing it myself as I share it, I can be okay with that.
After the story is told, I try to sit back just for a moment and enjoy the story before diving into the wondering questions. It’s not hard to do. The stories are a joy and so meaningful. It’s easy to enjoy them.