Reflection Exercise: My Least Answerable Questions

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This exercise allows young people to explore their own questions about death. It reiterates that death is a mystery and even Jesus himself struggled with such questions.

(5 minutes)

1. Introduce this exercise by reiterating the idea that death is mystery and that since the beginning of time, people of all ages, cultures, and races have asked tough questions about death. Jesus himself struggled with such questions.

Point out that questions themselves are of great value, even the questions for which we have no answers. Just posing the questions and being willing to struggle with them is already part of the answer. Also tell the young people that many of our most important questions require not so much answers of the mind but answers from the heart. Willingness to raise our questions can help to open--and free--our heart.

2. Pass out slips of paper (about 2-by-2 inches) and instruct the young people to spread out to allow each person the maximum of personal space. Then tell them to write on their slip one question they have about grief, death, and dying. Encourage them to write the question they find least answerable. Point out that they need not put their name on what they write but that you would like to record their anonymous questions afterward for all to read.

3. As the young people are composing their questions, play some calming instrumental music in the background. Compose a question of your own. During the remaining time, add a candle (unlit) and a chalice to the prayer space.

4. After 5 minutes, gently fade out the background music. Provide a bridge into the following prayer by reminding the young people of Jesus' struggle with his own questions and by telling them that Jesus found a way to deal with the most difficult, least answerable questions of all. Invite the young people to move silently into the prayer space, bringing their question sheets with them.

You may choose to use the prayer service "Gethsemane" to close this session.


(This activity is taken from Death, Grief, and Christian Hope, a mini-course in the Horizons Program series, by Nancy Marrocco [Winona, MN: Saint Mary's Press, 1997], pages 24-25. Copyright © 1997 by Saint Mary's Press. Permission is granted for this activity to be used for classroom or campus ministry purposes. This activity may not be republished in any form without written permission from Saint Mary's Press. To order this book, contact Saint Mary's Press at 800-533-8095, or order online.)

Published February 9, 2004.