Cookies are a way explorers can share their faith with one another in a non-confrontational manner. Cookies are snippets of information, kept strangely enough in a Cookie jar!
A Cookies session will often begin with a reading by a guide or willing explorer - the Dough. The readings vary and can be varied. The environment that the guide is aiming to create with Cookies is more Campfire than debating hall. The spoken session could be a story, a meditation, a scripture reading, a poem, or a combination of all these spoken forms. You may wish to introduce other media into this section, such as video if you have the equipment, but there is a danger of losing the intimate atmosphere when we stare at a screen.
Once the Dough is finished everyone is invited to take a cookie from the cookie jar. Empty the jar afterwards. Each of these can have a fragment relating to the theme ('part of the dough'), or be a blank piece of card. Explorers then set about creating their own cookies in response to the dpugh. After doing so they are encouraged to put their new cookie back into the jar and take a new cookie, one made by a fellow explorer. This can be done once, or repeated.
Once this has gone on long enough all the cookies are put back in the jar. Alternatively the Cookies can be turned into some sort of presentation. It is important that the cookies are not discarded, but are put in a separate cookie jar so people can look at them at a later date if they wish, and add to that collection if they wish. This means a lot of cookie jars, or maybe shoe boxes!
The subject of the cookies session can vary. One path is to choose cookies that relate to the first phases play session, however an equally valid and potentially more challenging path is to focus on the lives of the saints, specifically a saints day on or close to that of the date of the service. This gives the explorers the opportunity to explore the church's great stories.
Example Cookie Dough: John the Baptist
This Cookie Dough is a meditation on Baptism. It would be suitable for John the Baptist, or the Baptism of Christ within the Church year.
Let me tell you a story. A story I would like you to imagine yourself in. You may find it helpful to close your eyes.
You are hot. You have travelled from your comfortable home in the City of Jerusalem, out into the harsh wilderness. When you left you were fairly certain, you had heard tales of a great teacher in the desert, one who was preaching of a new life, and of a coming messiah, perhaps he was that messiah? Despite your comfortable life you recognised that the Romans had only brought prosperity to a lucky few, and that subtly, your religion, your way of life was being eroded. And so you heard this ‘voice crying out in the wilderness’, and were drawn to it, you made a decision to make the journey.
Now however you were less certain. It was a hot, stuffy unpleasant day, and your fellow pilgrims were not the sorts you would have chosen to be seen with, let alone mix with. Furthermore you cannot see this man, this John who they call ‘The Baptist’. And so waiting you wonder, you wonder if you are being stupid, you wonder if you should turn back before it gets dark and the heat of the day is replaced with the cold of a starless night. You wonder what you friends are having for dinner – you overhear conversations – that this John wears nothing but a harsh garment of camel hair and eats nothing but locusts and honey. You wonder, perhaps if this John is simply mad. You wonder ‘Am I Mad?’
So, you make up your mind to go, to turn back and head for the comforts of home … and then you see him, this John, and yes, he does look mad, but then he speaks, and he does not speak the words of a madman; he speaks the words of hope and sorrow, and time passes and you listen. He makes a call, for those to come, for those who recognise their failings and sorrow and seek forgiveness, and you find yourself drawn, drawn towards the dark waters of the Jordan and you come.
You stand there with this strange man, with bedraggled hair and camel robe. You stand there with the water coolly flowing around your waist a stark contrast to the heat of the day. Then, just before you are plunged into the stream, John looks you in the eyes, and you simply reply, ‘Yes’.
The world is blotted out, the water filling your eyes and ears, and you remember that you cannot swim, and now you wonder, ‘Am I dieing, am I dieing’ and … you are.
But then there is light, a bright light … and you are not dead, but it is the sun, the bright hot sunlight of the wilderness, and you are free, free to go and live.
Example Cookie Dough: St. Brigid
This Dough requires two people. It is more relaxed and comic, and less of a meditation.
Are we all sitting comfortably? Then I will begin.
Once upon a time there was a very rich nobleman of Eire, or Ireland as we call it. His name was Dubtach. Now Dubtach had a beautiful daughter, her name was Brigid. It is Brigid that we remember today, St. Brigid, also know as St. Bride, a godly woman, one of the foremost saints of Ireland. But our story today is set when Brigid was still a young woman. She was, as we shall see, a difficult child. So difficult that her poor father Dubtach went to see his friend the King to find a solution for the trouble she was causing him.
D: I want you to imagine that I am Dubtach, and this is my Daughter Brigid.
K: I want you to imagine that I am the wise King.
K: Friend Dubtach! It has been too long since I have seen you in these royal courts. And who is this fine young woman you bring before me? Surely it is your daughter Brigid! My how she has grown. But tell me Dubtach, what brings you from your lands this day?
D: Your majesty, my friend. It is this daughter of mine that brings me to your court.
K: Your daughter, she is Beautiful, you must be very proud.
D: Proud! Ha! She may be beautiful but I will not have her in my house for one more day!
K: But Dubtach why not? What could she have done to upset you so?
D: Because if I keep her much longer I will have no house left! She gives everything away, everything – whether it is hers to give or belongs to someone else!
K: (Smiling) To whom does she give?
D: To the poor. She only has to see a man, woman or child in need at the door and she gives them whatever is nearest. It has always been so.
K: Tell me more …
D: When she was small she gave away her cake. Then she gave away her favourite doll! Then the very shoes off her feet! Not having much left to give of her own she then gave away her sister’s doll and her brother’s shoes.
K: I see … but surely such generosity should be commended …
D: Oh it does not stop there. Now she is grown she gives away all the food off our table and the plates and silver that it is served on! She snatched up my gold cup filled it with drink and gave it to a poor woman who was thirsty! She has given away all her jewels, and now if someone who is in need arrives at the door she gives away anyone else’s that she can find! Those in trouble who have heard of her generosity knock at my door day and night! Soon I will have nothing left. I cannot afford to keep her. So I have brought her to you.
K: And want to you want me to do friend Dubtach?
D: I want you to take her off of my hands.
K: (To the People). Well she is certainly beautiful! Calm and radiant as the summer sea. Her hair is like a field of corn! Her eyes as blue as the meadow flowers! She has a happy manner. I have no daughters of my own and she would brighten the place up for certain, and maybe one day she may grow to love one of my sons! Then there would be grandchildren …
D: (Interupting) Brigid where is my sword? The one of great worth that my friend the king gave me as a sign of my service and loyalty? (Listens to Brigid) What Child! What! Whilst I was talking to the King there was a poor man seeking help for he had no money or food for his family, and so he was in such need that you gave him my Sword?
You gave my Sword to a beggar!
K: (Smiling to himself) ... Now Dubtach do not fret. I will have another sword forged for you that will be finer than the first for sure. (Turning to Brigid) But child, that Sword was not yours to give, even if the poor man can turn it into to bread. What do you say? Dubtach what is her answer?
D: (Listens to Brigid) She says my lord, that If a poor person came in great need she would gladly give away both her father and her King.
K: (Shocked and in silence). (Then to the people). Now I am a wise man, and although I was keen to take this young woman on I am also a Rich man. However I fear that if this young Brigid was in my Court for but a month soon I would have very little left and I would be in no better state than my friend Dubtach.
K: Dubtach, I cannot take her on. And I do not think that she will find a husband if she gives all that she sees to those in need. (Turning to Brigid) But child, what is your desire for your future.
D: (Listens to Brigid). She says my lord that she wishes to be sent to the Bishop to take vows as a nun and serve God all the days of her life.
K: Very well, so be it! Dubtach my friend it is clear that God has a special purpose for you daughter and we must free her to follow that calling. I am sure God will bless you for your generosity to the poor, even though it was through the hand of your daughter! And we can all learn much from the devotion and generosity of this young woman.
And so Brigid became a Nun. She grew in faith and love, always giving freely to those in need. She became an Abbess, caring for and leading a community of Nuns. She was wise and good. So much so that the stories say she was given the authority of a Bishop and people sought her advice from far and wide. Even the wise old King and his Heir.