“Write your hurts in the sand, carve your blessings in stone."
The story below is a powerful story that I have incorporated into my practice, group work and trainings. Both children and adults can relate to this story and truly understand it. We then may talk about resilience and rocks vs. feeling fragile like glass. Although rocks are strong, they are also smooth, calming and grounded in the earth. They will not fly away in the wind, so if we trust the process, we learn to not hold on so tight! The letting go process is letting go of control and fear as we bring safety and peace into our hearts.
Part I: Tell the below story. You may want to tweak it depending on the age, gender and situation. For example, if there was a child who was pushed, I would say “the friend pushed the other friend into the sand.” or “the friend called the other friend really mean names ( I use names that they've heard or said).”
The Sands of Forgiveness- Anonymous
Once there were two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend pushed the other one into the sand. The one who got pushed was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand:
“TODAY MY BEST FRIEND PUSHED ME.”
They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been pushed got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him/her. After he/she recovered from the near drowning, he/she carved on a stone:
“TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE.”
The friend who had pushed him and saved his best friend asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?”
The other friend replied “When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.”
Part II : After the story is read, the funnel and sand are used. (This activity can be done without sand and you can incorporate journaling, or art work)
Reflect back on the story
How did the child feel when he/she wrote “TODAY MY BEST FRIEND PUSHED ME ” With every feeling, they say it aloud, as a scoop of sand is slowly poured into the funnel (sad, hurt, lonely, mad, etc.....). The child watches the feelings pour through the funnel like “winds of forgiveness.” If you do not have a sandbox, it can be written down on a piece of paper or a white board. The white board is recommended because the feelings can be easily erased, as a metaphor of the wind or ocean erasing the words in the sand.
Part III & Process:
1)Talk about the second part of the story when the friend wrote, “TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE.” I explain to the child that this person was very brave to forgive his/her friend and the friend was also brave for saving the child.
2) Give child stones and asked them to write words of courage and strength on the stones. These are feelings that the child wants to hold onto and never be erased. These stones are set up in the sand. The child can then take the stones home and place them in their pocket.
Recommended Age Range: 5 to adulthood
Treatment Modality: Individual, family, or group
-Build Resilience and Self esteem
-Provide an understanding of empathy
-Link feelings to actions and how others perceive certain behaviors.
-Increase feelings vocabulary
What you need:
1). Stones (smooth stones that you can write or paint on)
2) Sharpies, paint markers or paint to write on stone
3) Sand tray & funnel