Really. It's amazing.
Sometimes in this job the most amazing things happen. Like on Tuesday. We had invited young kids--children--to come to Grace after school to talk about prayer. It certainly seemed like a perfectly sensible idea. After all, "teaching" about prayer is something church folk do. Or expect their church to do. And me . . . well, I'm just mostly glad to have time with Grace kids.
So the snacks were set out, the table was set--and Debbie Rimkus had done her usually wonderful work of organizing and welcoming. Kids trickled in. And then some more. We set up another table in Walker Hall. And then another. Yes, even another. Soon there were 31 kids eating grapes and cheese and drinking juice. The youngest? Three. The oldest? Eleven. It was quite a group and quite a mix, and I was beginning to panic just a bit about how to manage the bunch once we moved in to the sanctuary.
But in we went, and then we sat in circle around a circle of candles, one for each child. I had no intention of trying to "explain" prayer (can anyone, really?); I just wanted a chance for them to experience it. So we sat with our legs crossed and hands relaxed. First we imagined all our thoughts and feelings floating outside and around our bodies, and then God scoops them up. Then we listened to our breathing. In deeply, out quietly. Then we said that one great, ancient word: we "Ohmed" together, feeling lips and nose vibrate, and then letting that vibration travel down our bodies to heart and stomach. Then we stood up, held hands and sang "Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place."
Yep. We did all that. And then the amazing thing happend (not that I wasn't already completely amazed that they were still sitting there, together, with me and God). Slowly, directly, I moved around the circle, and as I lit the candle in front of each child I asked, quietly, "what would you like me to pray for--for you?" And one at a time I had my answers: "My friend who has cancer." "My two dogs." "My sister." "Pray for my grandma's spirit because she died yesterday." And I did pray, directly, with each child. Then moved to the next, and said another. When I was done, with 31 prayers, I was just amazed. Who wouldn't be? And I found myself believing, completely, in prayer as I sat in that circle of light. It was "a good day at the office." An amazing day. And I get to do it again this Tuesday.