Materials needed: bible; pen or pencil and paper; spaghetti, uncooked; one balloon (not inflated); water
Before beginning this exercise, take a few moments to be still and sense the presence of God within you. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you through this activity and reveal what he wants you to know.
Wine and wineskins–what does it mean?
Read Matthew 9:16–17:
No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved. (Mt 9:16-17)
Write down any impressions you have of these verses: Is the meaning clear to you? How do these verses apply to your life? If the meaning is not clear, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you some insight; do not be concerned if the answer does not come right away.
Cooked and uncooked spaghetti
Keeping those verses in mind, take an uncooked piece of spaghetti and examine it carefully; write down a short description of the strand including its texture and shape. Now slowly break it in half, making note of any details in the breaking. Note how you break it. Describe any sounds you hear as it breaks. Write down any words that come to mind as a result of the uncooked strand and its breaking. You may also want to take a bunch of strands to break as this would magnify the sounds and sensations.
Cook the strand you just broke. Take one of the cooked strands and repeat the process, first examining it and then breaking it, noting in particular how you break it and whether or not it is easier or harder to break than when it was uncooked. Try doing this with a bunch of strands as well. Consider using a knife or scissors to cut them if you cannot break them. Write a brief description of what happened when you broke the spaghetti strands:
- How did they differ?
- Which one broke more easily?
- Which spaghetti strand best describes your reaction to change in your life?
- Consider the process that made the cooked strand more pliable; how water and heat (aka, fire) were involved in that process. Do you see a connection between these two elements and God’s Holy Spirit? Describe your impressions.
Another way to imagine the wineskin scripture
Another way to illustrate this verse involves a balloon, imagining it as a new wineskin. Write down a short description of the balloon before doing anything with it:
- What does it look like?
- How does it feel?
Now fill the balloon with water as if you were filling a wineskin with new wine. Describe the look and feel of the balloon filled with water. Notice the difference in weight between the unfilled and filled balloon. What time of your life is best represented by the empty balloon? What time is represented by the full balloon? Write down your impressions and feelings.
Go back now to Matthew 9:16–17: Did the exercises with the spaghetti and the balloon help to clarify the meaning of these verses? How? What do these verses mean to you now?
Offer a prayer to God describing your feelings with regards to this exercise and how it applies to your life.
copyright 2015 Susan W. Bailey;
from Chapter 4 of River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times,
published by Ave Maria Press