Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lesson Plan: Celtic Christian Prayers

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!  I hope the Leprechauns were kind to you.  They visit us every year, but didn't cause too much mayhen this time...  And my son and I did a great Green activity, which was to visit the beautiful gardens at the Arboretum at NC State, where all the flowering trees are blooming beautifully, before coming home to our new tradition of eating Bangers and Mash for St. Patrick's Day Dinner.

But last week in our World Religion class, where we have just started studying Christianity, we prepared for Saint Patrick's Day by studying Celtic Christian Prayers.  Ireland is an interesting place in terms of Christianity because it retained its Pagan religion longer than many other places that are now Christian, and I believe the Irish Christianity has more of an Earth-based-religious flavor than many other strands of Christianity.

For this lesson, I gave the students several pages of Celtic Chrisian Prayers (there are also current Celtic Prayers that are more Pagan, but the ones we used were all directed to the Christian concept of one God, along with Jesus as his special Son/Helper/Teacher).  We read them and then the students journaled about what they had in common and/or what seemed different to them from traditional Christian prayers they knew.  The list we came up with were:

1.  A concentration on concrete, rather than abstract, things or themes
2.  A focus on everyday life and/or common items
3.  More emphasis on gratitude for simple things than asking for "miracles" or personal goals
4.  Much attention to natural items

After that, I had the students write their own prayers or blessings, as influenced by Celtic Christian prayer philosophy.  As always, what they came up with was very different, but very beautiful.  Here are some examples:

May the rain nourish the plants
May the plants nourish the people
May the people nourish the Earth,
Let the earth provide for its providers.

May friends assist and bless you
And may beds aspire to rest you
And may you live under a roof
And may some dogs always woof
And may you earn substantial dough
And may you wear a wig Afro
And may your soup always taste good
And may your forest always have wood
And other stuff to be taken care
And may you have a rhyming prayer.

Let God be upon you when you are going through hard times.
Let God help you through your struggles and let him help you get out of the struggle.

May the sky always be blue
May the grass always be green
May the Earth always be saved
And may the people always want to save it.

To wake up looking at the trees
With the birds' songs in the air,
To break the fast
With healthy, nourishing food,
To fill the day
With creative, productive work,
To end the day
With loving family and good friends,
And to look forward to the next day filled with the same,
For this, God, I thank you.

They were all lovely and heartfelt reflections of the personality of each student, and I really appreciated each one.  So it was one of the best Saint Patrick's-related activities that I have ever done, as well as I great way to look at a different Christian tradition than most may be exposed to, at least here in North Carolina.

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