The Big Mess

The Big Mess
Time For All Ages
Helen Rose
Delivered at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tallahassee
Sunday, September 29, 2019

This is an original piece by Helen Rose. Feel free to use for worship with proper credit given to the author. Email Helen with any questions.


Good morning! I’m going to have all the kids and kids at heart join me up front, I have some questions for you all.

I was wondering, what do we do when we make a mistake?
We fix it, we say sorry, etc.

Oh, so what if the mistake is like a spill? What do we do if we spill something?
We clean it up!

What happens if we don’t clean it up? Like, what happens if we don’t clean our room for a couple weeks?
It’s a big mess, it smells bad, it takes a long time, etc.

But should still clean it up, though, right?
Yes, no, maybe, we should just burn the house down and get a new one instead.

Yeah, we should still clean up, even if it is a big mess.

We can ask for help though, right?

Who can we ask?
My parent, my sibling, my dog, my best friend, the monster who lives in my closet, etc.

Ok, now everybody stand up.

Let’s pretend there’s a big mess that needs to be cleaned up.

I want everyone up front to go find someone they can ask for help cleaning the big mess up.

When you find someone to help you, hold their hand. (If they don’t want to hold hands, just stand next to them.)

Then, I want you to find someone else, and even if someone is already holding one of their hands, hold their other hand.

Let’s keep finding people to help us clean up this really big mess for a couple minutes and see what happens.

Wait a few minutes – eventually, everyone in the congregation should be holding hands.

Does anyone know what the big mess is?
Climate change, systemic racism, the heteronormative hegemonic paradigm, the myth of decaf coffee, the patriarchy, income inequality, gender inequality, etc.

Well, it could be a lot of things. Today, let’s say its climate change.

Climate change is kind of a big mess, and it’s going to take a lot of people
working together to clean up – but look at all these people who are willing to help!

Do you all think you could do something about it with all these people helping you?
Yes, no, maybe, probably not, I don’t care, can I have a snack?

I know you can!

Thank you for helping me with this!

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When I delivered this at UUCT, the Spirit of Life moved me to do last bit while standing on a chair so everyone could see and hear better. It went fairly well, though the kids needed more prompting than I expected to get started finding helpers. I moved things along by calling adults out by name asking if they were willing and able to help and having them find someone to hold hands with as well. This TFAA could be used for any large-scale issue you wish to communicate to children and youth.

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