Some time ago I published this picture of two boys in our 3rd-5th grade class using two labyrinths we have. I am not a labyrinth person (caution would make me add “yet” to that sentence…) but I have many devotees of labyrinths among my friends and family (namely my 20-year-old daughter, away at college).
Our church is fortunate to have a canvas labyrinth that fits in our parish hall. I was allowed to help put it out for a few days on Lent 5, as well as to reserve a time for our children to use it. Unfortunately, while I hoped for swarms of children, I got several friendly adults, a teen, and a mother, and one child in “our” age group. Next year, perhaps, we can do more research to find a time when more can participate.
Early that day during our Sunday School class, we had the gift of a new (to us) parishioner sharing a Stations of the Cross suitable for children ages 4 through 5th grade. Although our parish does a Stations of the Cross at our 7:00 p.m. Good Friday service, we had never done anything with young children. We were able to use our parish hall that day to have a different space for this experience.
Diane had 10 stations set up. We had pictures for 7 of the Stations from an old set that had been used in church until they upgraded. We also had a cross (made with 2 x 4s) that we use in our annual Holy Week Walk during the Sunday School hour on Palm Sunday. Beyond that, Diane promised to bring all the necessary supplies. I had no idea what to expect!
She managed to slowly move through 10 stations in our allotted 50 minutes. Each station had some sort of brief activity (one involved tying two sticks together to make a simple cross; this was the only activity that required help from the adults present).
I thought the activities were perfect for meditation for this age group. At one station, she invited the children to dip a Q-tip into vinegar to taste the vinegar Jesus was given on the cross.
At the station depicting Jesus being nailed to the cross, she invited the children to write their names on a piece of ripped cloth (as Jesus’s clothes had been ripped) and “nail” this cloth to the cross with pins. No one made a sound during this activity.
In the final station, when Jesus is taken from the cross and laid in the tomb, she had each child dip a finger into olive oil and make the sign of a cross on the palm of the person next to them. One first grader told me later that this was the “best” station.