I have been blessed with many wonderful experiences and learning opportunities throughout my life. During the years I was a preschool director, the staff and I received a grant designated for continuing education. All of us felt a calling to deepen the spiritual teachings we offered the children, and we were serendipitously led to a training in a program entitled “Young Children and Worship”. This took place in Holland, Michigan, and it was led by the author of the book of the same title, Sonja Stewart. The program blended the philosophies of Maria Montessori and Sophia Cavaletti and engaged the children as they heard the Bible stories. We implemented the program the following school year, and it became a regular part of our spiritual development curriculum for our students.
At the same time, I implemented the program, known as “Worship Center,” on Sunday mornings for the children of our congregation. The beauty of the program was how it integrated mindfulness into the style of teaching. Instead of feeding the children information and expecting them to retain it, it engaged them in responding to the stories through deep wondering, action, and awareness of what was going on in their world at the time. For example, in one story Jesus says, “Come. Follow me. I will show you the way of the kingdom of God. Heal the sick. Care for the poor. Embrace the widows. And enjoy the children.” In response to this story, the children made healing prayer crosses and they gave them to people in our community who were in need of healing. Each week we remembered to include those individuals in our prayers, and often the children told me they were praying for them at home too. The children also sent cards and letters to a child in Haiti whom we adopted through Compassion International and to some of our members who were imprisoned. It was a beautiful way of being mindful of the world. I loved being a part of that program. The beauty of the children’s pure and natural spirituality touched my heart deeply.
I thought our children’s Worship Center would go on forever, but it didn’t. The world around us was beginning to change, and one by one the families moved on to discover their own faith path. We held on until there was only one family left. Then the program dissolved, leaving the church with no program for children.
Often, as I sit and meditate, the stories I told the children will come to mind. There were so many layers to the teachings of Jesus it isn’t surprising when they surface to bring an awareness or lesson to me. I wonder if I’ll ever have the opportunity to share these stories again. I wonder if there is a new venue in which to tell them. One morning, Rosemary carried forward a message:
Remember all of God’s creation is with you at all times and through all situations. Keep that in the forefront of your mind. Listen to others and you will be guided IF something needs to be spoken. Always ask for guidance first. Open your heart like Jesus did. Keep his teachings close to your heart and live them! We love you and are excited to be on this journey with you! Blessings abound indeed.
As I pondered this message, I remembered how connected I felt to my path and how much joy and gratitude filled my heart. As you reflect on your life, in what ways can you see that mindfulness was present, even if you weren’t aware at the time?
What emotions does your memory recall?
How can we use these recollections as fuel to feed us on our current path?
"My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature." Claude Monet