The first Friday of my holidays began bright and early with school assembly. (yes, I know… but it was their last day of term.)
I talked about how we value things and why — building on the story of Anne Frank’s tree, which has had a sudden reprieve from the ax, while people look for ways to prop her up and kill the fungus that makes her a danger.
And by way of illustration I brought in three things for them to pass round:
- a Tangle –a shiny plastic toy to play with
- a holding cross
- a small stone
The question was: what gives Anne Frank’s tree worth? Is it because of what it is, what it looks like, how it moves (the Tangle). Is it because of what it symbolizes — hope and beauty in the midst of one girl’s fear and darkness (the cross). Or is it because of the story we tell about it (the stone, given to me by a very dear old man in my ‘home’ congregation).
I hate the thought of that tree being propped up and held together and denied a peaceful death. Far better to let it go, and to act on the earlier plan of grafting a bit of it into new life, so a sign of hope remains. But I didn’t want to tell them that. They had to decide for themselves.
So I just told them how I felt about the stone. How it was the story that mattered. And how, once the story has worked its way inside us, the object isn’t so important — we can let go of it, or even give it away.
And you can see, now, where this is going, can’t you?
Let me tell you, giving a small hard stone to a 13 year old boy at 9am on a Friday morning is a pure act of faith.
And much to my surprise, no one told me off for it, and no one took it off him.
I wonder where it is now…