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Too Much of a Good Thing

Orthodox Life Session
Provided for the Orthodox Life Session: Worksheet
Provided for the Street Wise Session: Fact Sheet

Begin the session with a prayer.

Ask participants to line up by their birth date as quickly as they can, then have them sit in a circle in order of their birth dates.

Begin the session by instructing the participants to answer the following questions on the short worksheet provided, and allow time for discussion:
What makes you happy?
What do you like?
What do you like to do?
What do you want?

Ask the participants to come up with a definition of what is external, or outside, keeping in mind that some things can be both, like music or sports. For example, music can be internal; when we learn to play an instrument so well that we can "make" music on our own, but music can be external when we buy an album. This part of the exercise is very important. The participants should be encouraged to come up with a realistic definition of what is external on their own. If they need guidance, move them towards a definition that would define "external" as that which is materialistic.

After they have created their definitions, ask the campers to circle the things on their paper that are external, the things that are not part of them, the things they have no control over.

Discussion Questions:
Why did you place those things on your worksheet; what might have influenced them?
Who told you, or how did you learn that these specific things will make you happy?
How did you determine what you want and like?
True happiness can not be bought or in a sense "acquired;" that is to say it is not a product that we can purchase. Rather true happiness must come from within, and joy comes from being engaged in something meaningful and real. What does this statement say to you?

Part of this session's focus is to foster and develop within the participants a sense of an inner spiritual life. Our faith maintains that true spiritual joy can never be attained through satisfying our physical desires. Certainly, we can argue that our modern society sees little value in the development of one's spirituality. Rather it focuses on the material or physical well being of its members.

Close with a prayer.

Street Wise Session
Begin the session with an opening prayer.

Discuss how we have been taught by society to find pleasure, happiness, and contentment from things outside of ourselves from the material world. You might read or share some of the facts contained in the fact sheet. It is fun to have the kids try and guess the answers to some of the facts. Therefore you can ask them, for example to guess what the average size of a house was in 1950 and so forth.

Consider that true happiness can not be bought or even acquired, rather it must come from within; joy comes from being engaged in meaningful and complex realities.

Discussion Questions:
Have you ever heard of the phrase, "too much of a good thing?" What does it mean?
Is it possible to have too much of a good thing?

Ask for a volunteer, preferably someone who likes candy. Blindfold them and place them in front of the group. Lay out in front of them one, two, three, four. . .twenty pieces of candy. Ask the group to give the person a time limit between 3 and 5 minutes to eat all that candy. After the time limit has been set, remove the blindfold. A blindfold is placed on the volunteer to illustrate that we often go into this materialistic world blind. We like to think that we will be satisfied by what we consume. The participants who watch get to "see" what is placed in front of the volunteer, they "see" that you can have too much of a good thing. See if they can eat all of the candy in the time allotted! Encourage everyone to root them on and scream for them to go faster.

Have the participants compare the reality of eating the candy with a time limit and living in America and the consumer society we encounter.

Have the volunteer discuss what if felt like to eat all that candy. After a short response, shift gears and ask: "What happens if we get too much of a good thing?" First, we are full of things, things that we can classify as outside or external. Second, we get sick. Third, there is no room left on the inside.

Shift gears again by telling everyone that you want to do a little experiment with all of them.

Materials for the Activity:
White board, markers and pens, large paper or worksheet, candy, clear empty pitcher, water, several large rocks, blindfold

Present the clear pitcher, rocks, and water. Explain to the participants that the clear, empty pitcher is them, the rocks are the external things we put into ourselves, and the water is God. The point of this experiment is to get everyone to see how we fill ourselves up with stuff, with things; this means there is less room for God. Ask the participants to list some of the things they had on their lists, and as they do, put a rock in the pitcher. After filling the pitcher with rocks, fill it with the water. Once it is full talk about how we can remove the rocks from the pitcher.

Discussion Questions:
How do we get the rocks, the stuff out of our pitcher? Each of us has to develop a spiritual or interior life. We have to find happiness, joy, inside.
How is this done? This can be achieved through prayer, fasting, love, discipline, obedience, moderation, reading scripture, talking with our spiritual father, church attendance and participation, acts of love/charity, and being practical. Be prepared to offer the participants realistic and common suggestion that can help them build a spiritual life.

Once the rocks are removed have the participants comment on the color, the cleanliness, and the amount of water. Discuss how you can change the water's color, its cleanliness, and the amount. Add fresh water, filter the water, etc.

Discuss what does the following statement by Jesus means: "The kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17.21

What do these statements by St. Paul mean?

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." Colossians 3:1-2.

"But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:17-20.


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