Had I known I was going to have to put it back together - I wouldn’t have broken it into so many pieces.
On a confirmation retreat recently I used the 2012 Falling Plates video. It’s succinct and beautiful and impactful and articulates a message that so long as humanity persists will need repeating: Why Christ matters. Further, this illustration helps us see the error in chasing darkness in an attempt to find light.
Ideally, when a 16-year-old is preparing for Confirmation they have already been formed to understand the basic gospel proclamation, the Kerygma.
Ideally, they grasp the fundamentals of salvation history: humanity’s fall from grace, sin, revelation, covenant, incarnation, and Christ’s death and resurrection.
Ideally, they understand who Christ is, who they are in relationship to him, and have an ongoing relationship with him. Ideally, they see that our desire for sin is both part of our humanity but is also the thing that keeps us from being fully alive.
These things, however, are only the ideal and not often what is found (frankly, when we do find that person who has ideal formation these messages still bear repeating). This video and activity do a fair job of articulating this message. Granted, it’s an analogy and no analogy is perfect. Here's what transpired.
I showed them the Falling Plates video and at the conclusion, I split them into groups and equipped them dinner plates and hammers.
I split them into groups and equipped them dinner plates and hammers.
GO FOR IT
DO THE CATHARTIC THING
SMASH THE PLATE
It was glorious and destructive and memorable. When the smashing was done I gave them their final instruction: you now have to piece the plates back together.
Using tape and glue they began to restore the plate to its original shape and function. In teams of the six or so, they did a remarkable job of fitting the shards back together. So much fun to smash, so painstaking to put back together. There is nothing that could be done to return the plate to its original perfection. Each line of breakage stands in contrast to the clean bright white of the piece of plate which is still intact. Each crack is the result of an impact. Each scar is the result of a choice. The web-like array of breakage on each plate couldn’t be predicted, but it’s clear how each crack came to be there.
“Had I known I was going to have to put it back together - I wouldn’t have broken it into so many pieces.” -teen guy
It’s valuable for a 16-year-old to realize that they have agency over how many times and ways they inflict these breaks and cracks in their own lives. It's even more valuable for them to realize that they are called to be a functional human after all those hammer blows. At some point, the pieces will have to be put back together and they will have to function with the fault lines and scars of their past choices. That’s a significant lesson.
At some point, the pieces will have to be put back together and they will have to function with the fault lines and scars of their past choices.
The good news is that while the scars remain for a time, through grace and forgiveness we can be healed. In our time on earth, while we will retain the scars from sin, we can be renewed as vessels ready for service. We believe that when we get to heaven the God who created us in the first place completely restores us to who we were before we were ever broken by our choices of sin. In experiencing the damage done by sin, we glimpse the value of the one without sin, the unblemished lamb and singular power of his sacrifice for us.
In Matthew 5:48 we are called to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. We can’t be perfect. The good news is that as evidenced by grace, the gift fo the sacraments and the role and assistance of the Holy Spirit, it’s clear that God understands we can not be perfect on our own. However, with his grace, in a relationship with him and through the death and resurrection of Christ, we can be perfect and not broken shards of who we were intended to be.
We are given the opportunity to be whole, unblemished, and complete again.