Birthday icebreaker is gift of writings and elevated conversation

Attendees read Bahá'í quotes as part of an icebreaker at a birthday party for Jacqueline Claire Leal (second from left). Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Claire Leal

For her 29th birthday celebration, Jacqueline Claire Leal wanted to “skip the typical party small talk and get right to the big ideas.”

So the Los Angeles-based visual artist and actor — she has appeared in TV shows and films under the name Jacqueline Claire — devised an icebreaker that would “create a way for people to feel comfortable and purposeful approaching and talking to people they didn’t know, and for even brief interactions to touch on profound subjects.”

Leal gave each attendee half of a quotation from the Bahá’í writings and asked that he or she find the person with the other half and, once matched, discuss it.

“Even when it wasn’t a match I hoped still being exposed to each other’s quote fragments would be intriguing and thought-provoking,” she says.

The icebreaker “set a tone of elevated and meaningful discourse for the guests,” says Leal’s mom, Sabrina Laumer, who alerted The American Bahá’í to the event.

But it didn’t end there, she adds: “Next they were asked to read their quotes in front of the group and find which piece of artwork” from Leal’s gallery of finished pieces “went best with their quote.”

Not only that, says Leal, supplies were made available so party-goers could create their own artwork by mounting their complete quotes on decorative paper.

“Afterwards, we gathered together and each pair individually chose a piece of artwork that represented or illuminated an aspect of their quote and shared it with the group,” she recounts. “Here was an opportunity for people to reflect even more deeply on the content of their own quote and to learn from everyone else’s as well.”

A bonus for the assemblage was that “during this portion of the birthday event it arose very naturally from one of the ‘teams’ that we all ended up singing along to a rendition of [a song set to the paraphrased quote from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá] ‘where there is love, nothing is too much trouble and there is always time’ on YouTube.”

“It was very interactive, and people commented that it was inspiring and was the most uplifting birthday party ever,” says Laumer.

And since the party the conversation has continued. Most recently, says Leal, “A friend brought up to me that she had found herself reflecting on her quote from the party, thinking about the purpose of life being spiritual in nature.

“She linked it specifically to the natural dissolution of our physical selves as we age, a process that hopefully corresponds with our growing closer to God/the spiritual realm and helping us detach from our material lives.”

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