Australia - How we adapted to Covid-19
In term 2 of 2020, Year 9 Religious and Values Education (RVE) students at Aidan’s Anglican Girls School, Brisbane, undertook a unit on sacred spaces. The project for their unit was to create a class Prayer Space, with five separate activities to engage in. The restrictions arising from COVID19 meant that the first half of the unit was delivered online, and it also meant that the stations could only be visited by other students in the same class. Here are the groups’ reports on their activities.
Our prayer space was a sacred area which was based on the theme of hope. The activity focused on people expressing their hopes that they desire for. The activity was to write about something that is hoped for on a cut-out human which was provided. The cut-out is then to be attached to the previous person’s hand on a sheet of butcher’s paper. This action deeply represents that everyone is hoping and going through difficult times. We suggested that people could write about their hopes for Covid-19 or some other personal matter. Many people decided to write about hopes relating to schoolwork or assignments. However, there were many more abstract hopes which shows that there was a variety of thoughts in the class.
Our prayer space was designed to allow people to let go of their negative thoughts or problems. This was done by writing them on colourful paper leaves which were then pinned to a tree. This signified that all of our problems or negative thoughts were together and that we are all there for each other and there to help get through these problems. To further signify that our problems or negative thoughts were gone, we had a ceremonial burning of the leaves. This allowed people to really let go of their problem or thought as they could see it being destroyed.
Our station was a calming area with cushions and soft light-coloured fabric that had fairy lights, scented candles, and small plants. In the centre of the cushions was a container with kinetic sand for students to play with. Calm music played over while people played with the kinetic sand, and it was overall a relaxing area for people to vibe.
Gratitude & Compassion
Our group’s sacred space focused on gratitude. We used a tent for the sacred space and decorated the inside with cushions, fairy lights and electric candles. This, along with soothing background music, helped create a calming environment which helped students to focus and reflect on their definition of gratitude in their lives. This was carried out by students colouring in a gratitude symbol art. On the back, they wrote a letter to someone or something they were grateful for. Outside the tent was a wall that displayed the students’ art. We got to see our space come to life as our classmates went and reflected on what they were grateful/compassionate for. It was very interesting to see the variety of things that people were grateful for and the care that they took into decorating and colouring in the compassion symbol.
Students in the class reflected afterwards that there was power in seeing other people’s responses to each of the stations. Seeing that other people had negative thoughts, seeing a ‘community of hope’ emerge, and reading what others were grateful for all helped them with their own expressions of these ideas. The process has also helped students understand the effect and significance of symbolic actions for group identity, and that prayer can take many different forms.