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Journeying spiritually with children

To see life afresh through the eyes of a child, to be challenged by their questions and invigorated by their energy and sense of fun is surely a precious gift in adult life. The selection of readings in these booklets invite us to reflect on both the complexity and the simplicity of a life lived with openness to the perspectives of the young amongst us - from the wonder of birth to the empty nest and beyond. Journeying spiritually with children is the third of a series of resource packs designed to invite personal reflection and promote spiritual conversation in a variety of settings.

To see life afresh through the eyes of a child, to be challenged by their questions and invigorated by their energy and sense of fun is surely a precious gift in adult life. The selection of readings in these booklets invite us to reflect on both the complexity and the simplicity of a life lived with openness to the perspectives of the young amongst us - from the wonder of birth to the empty nest and beyond.

Journeying spiritually with children is the third of a series of resource packs designed to invite personal reflection and promote spiritual conversation in a variety of settings.

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Edition three:

Journeying spiritually

with children

editions • Glimpsing God 1

Editions 3.indd 1 07/10/2015 16:45


Conversation 3 ­ Full Circle.indd 1 07/10/2015 09:29

Journeying spiritually

with children

conversation one

Journeying spiritually

with children

conversation two

welcome beloved

unless you become

full circle

wisdom shared

growing pains

separate and together

every child

welcome beloved

welcome beloved

unless you become

full circle

wisdom shared

growing pains

separate and together

every child

unless you become

Simply being born is the fundamental universal

experience which unites us with people of all

ages and cultures. No matter who we later

become, we all undergo a similar process

of emergence. Leaving the relative safety

of the womb, we are conveyed into a very

different environment where we intuitively seek

reassurance and comfort.

Psychologists inform us tha the quality of

welcome received by infants is highly significant

to their development, something that can

be reinforced or undermined by subsequent

experience. Providing a climate of love and

affirmation is the necessary bedrock of security

and self-worth which will carry a person forward

with confidence and hope into the rest of life.

Although we all grow up and may forget our

earliest memories, the child within each of

us remains. In seeking to journey spiritually

with children, then, perhaps we should remind

ourselves of the child we once were and still

are – still seeking assurance, love and hope in a

complex and challenging world.

Journeying spiritually

with children

conversation three

That simply all of life is sacred and significant is

deeply ingrained in Christian tradition, but so is

the notion that human persons, above everything

else, are infinitely precious to God. The words and

actions of Jesus as he welcomes a child brought

before him assures us that from our earliest

years we have inestimable value. Calling God,

‘Father’ or ‘Mother’ is to accept our stature as

beloved children of God – something which we

seek to realise in the way we live our lives.

This famous story also reminds us tha there is

a particular quality of being in these early years

of life from which we are invited to learn. This

being so, it is clear that accompanying children

spiritually is a two-way street. While we seek to

introduce them to a depth dimension to life, so

we ourselves must learn from them if we are

to refine our understanding of what it means to

‘become as little children’.

full circle

Conversation 2 ­ Unless You Become.indd 1 07/10/2015 09:28

welcome beloved

unless you become

full circle

wisdom shared

growing pains

separate and together

every child

Journeying spiritually

with children

conversation four

Many people speak of how their hearts have

been widened or stretched by the children in

their lives. Parents or grandparents, carers or

teachers, all have stories of how children and

young people have touched or changed them

for the good. In many ways they draw from us

a selflessness or even a heroism we would

previously have thought impossible.

Yet, paradoxically perhaps, children also remind

us of our own vulnerability and dependence.

They have a habit of taking us, both literally and

metaphorically, full circle… to the edges of life

where we come face to face with reality, exposing

all our best hopes and our worst fears. While

rejoicing in thresholds safely crossed, we may

also be touched by moments of all-consuming

grief – watching on helplessly in the face of

adversity and tragedy. How we respond to and

find meaning in these varied experiences is a

witness to love and faith from which the children

in our care will undoubtedly learn.

welcome beloved

unless you become

full circle

wisdom shared

growing pains

separate and together

every child

Journeying spiritually

with children

wisdom shared

Journeying with children implies deliberately

making time for the cultivation of relationship,

for the sharing of perspective and the building

of significance – something which cannot be

rushed. It also involves leaving some of our own

assumptions behind so as to sensitively enter into

their perceptual world. In doing so, often to our

surprise, we discover things we have forgotten,

or have neve really known, as we play and learn

together.

conversation six

In most forms of spiritual accompaniment,

the sharing of insight works both ways and, as

many would attest, conversations with children

can augment our understanding of the divine.

Through the questions they raise, the ideas they

hold and their insatiable curiosity, children both

challenge and illuminate.

How we, in turn, share what we have learned

abou the sacredness of life - through ritual,

prayer, stories and conversation - is highly

significant. By offering what we have discovered

while leaving space for other perspectives, we

invite the opening of minds and hearts rather

than the constricting alternative.

Journeying spiritually

with children

conversation six

Conversation 4 ­ Wisdom Shared .indd 1 07/10/2015 09:31

welcome beloved

unless you become

full circle

wisdom shared

growing pains

separate and together

every child

separate and together

Young people leaving home to establish

themselves as adults is the logical conclusion

of caring for children. Although we may not

have looked a things this way from the outset,

as time passes it becomes more apparent that

this is a goal towards which we must work. As

we approach the prospect, however, we discover

that preparing our children to leave also requires

significant personal adjustment in ourselves.

Although recognising its necessity, we are filled

with mixed emotions as the day nears.

welcome beloved

unless you become

full circle

wisdom shared

growing pains

separate and together

every child

Journeying spiritually

with children

separate and together

conversation seven

Young people leaving home to establish

themselves as adults is the logical conclusion

of caring for children. Although we may not

have looked at things this way from the outset,

as time passes it becomes more apparen that

this is a goal towards which we must work. As

we approach the prospect, however, we discover

that preparing our children to leave also requires

significant personal adjustment in ourselves.

Although recognising its necessity, we are filled

with mixed emotions as the day nears.

Negotiating departure is something we all have

to learn bu there is a sense in which we are so

bound up together with those we love that we will

always be both separate and together. Though

our young people leave, they also return to us at

intervals and establish a different relationship,

which later cycles of meeting and parting can

only mature. From our own perspective, the

whole experience ought, perhaps, to remind us

of our relationship with God with its seasons of

separation and return.

every child

Negotiating departure is something we all have

to learn but there is a sense in which we are so

bound up together with those we love that we will

always be both separate and together. Though

our young people leave, they also return to us at

intervals and establish a different relationship,

which later cycles of meeting and parting can

only mature. From our own perspective, the

whole experience ought, perhaps, to remind us

of our relationship with God with its seasons of

separation and return.

welcome beloved

unless you become

full circle

wisdom shared

growing pains

separate and together

every child

The Christian journey is one of growing

compassion, with our own personal and domestic

concerns being gradually drawn onto a wider

canvas. Caring relationships with children and

young people can act as a catalys to awaken

new vistas of awareness and commitment. If

this is what I want for the children close to me,

what abou the millions of others who are not so

fortunate?

We do not have to look far to see children born

into situations of abuse, war or injustice, whose

human rights (physical, emotional, psychological

and spiritual) are being systematically ignored,

or trampled. Faced with the enormity of the

problems we can feel powerless to help. Yet we

can learn to make a contribution by listening

again to the natural compassion and idealism

Conversation 6 ­ Separate and Together.indd 1 07/10/2015 09:32

passionately expressed by many of our own young

people. By letting them become our teachers in

generosity and practical goodness, we continue

to journey with them in building the promised

Kingdom of God on earth.

Conversation 6 ­ Separate and Together.indd 1 07/10/2015 09:32

Conversation 1 ­ Welcome Beloved.indd 1 07/10/2015 09:26

Edition three:

Journeying spiritually

with children

editions • Glimpsing God 1

Conversation 7 Every Child.indd 1 07/10/2015 09:33

To see life afresh through the eyes of a child, to be

challenged by their questions and invigorated by

their energy and sense of fun is surely a precious

gift in adult life. The selection of readings in these

booklets invite us to reflect on both the complexity

and the simplicity of a life lived with openness to

the perspectives of the young amongst us - from

the wonder of birth to the empty nest and beyond.

Journeying spiritually with children is the

third of a series of resource packs designed to

invite personal reflection and promote spiritual

conversation in a variety of settings.

We are grateful for the sponsorship of the

resource pack by Methodist Women in Britain who

suggested the overall theme and also contributed

to its production.

Forthcoming packs and Editions in the series will

include Soul at Work. Also available is Glimpsing

God and Aloneness.

Journeying spiritually with children is available

now for £10+p&p from

www.shorelineconversations.com

© Shoreline Conversations 2015

Published by Shoreline Conversations

Venture House

93 Telegraph Road

Heswall

Wirral CH60 0AE

w: www.shorelineconversations.com

e: info@shorelineconversations.com

Edited by Lynne Ling

e: lynne.ling@shorelineconversations.com

t: 07734 607486

Design by 25 Educational

w: www.base25.com

e: mark@base25.com

Editions 3.indd 2 07/10/2015 16:45


Edition three:

Journeying spiritually

with children

Welcome to our third issue of Editions, created to complement the conversation

packs we will be producing at regular intervals over the next few years.

r

y

i

a

Stephen Wright is used to working with adults in spiritual direction, but

talking about faith and life with his grandchildren is something different.

He reflects on this and invites us to remember adults who impressed and

helped form us when we were young.

Karen Turner tells us how a recurring Bible passage about Jacob’s ladder

gave her family comfort at a time of change and upheaval and then how

they established a novel prayer routine on the stairs of their new home …

Roz Stockley has been involved in introducing pupils and teachers in

primary schools to the practice of daily meditation as a whole school

activity. Her experience is that even children as young as four ‘get it’ quite

quickly and settle naturally and calmly into a time of silence together, with

marked effects on behaviour and learning.

Hannah Field, Mission Development Worker for Girls’ Brigade (GB)

England and Wales, works to ensure that GB groups are welcoming

places full of openness and expectancy, where it’s okay to ask challenging

questions, explore and simply be.

My second grandchild was born only a week ago, as I write this. I am once again,

as when my children were born, blown away by the experience of holding a tiny

baby and looking her in the eye and she looking in mine – searching me out.

Introducing the first of the conversation booklets that accompany this magazine,

Mark Davis writes: ‘psychologists inform us that the quality of welcome received

by infants is highly significant to their development’. I trust that as a second-time

nanny I will not only warmly welcome my granddaughter, but also be open to

what I learn in seeing the world afresh through her eyes.

We welcome your personal reflections and responses to the ideas we raise in

these pages.

Lynne Ling

Editor

editions • Journeying spiritually with children

e

Editions 3.indd 3 07/10/2015 16:45


minding my own

LANGUAGE

Stephen Wright, spiritual director and grandfather, reflects on how his ‘god-talk’

conversations with his grandchildren challenge him to be authentic, to ‘walk the talk’

and to find language and stories that fit with the children’s real world experience

My 8-year-old granddaughter came home

from school and announced that there had

been an outbreak of mumps. “It’s God’s

punishment” she asserted. Moments like this

are opportunities for ‘God’ talk. Where did she get this idea

of a punishing God? What was God really like if not like

that? Is there ‘God’ at all? That’s how spiritual guidance

tends to work with kids; it has to be spontaneous. This can

be scary for grown-ups, pushing us into the difficult terrain

of doubt about our own beliefs and how to express them

before a child.

I’m used to working with adults in spiritual direction, but

children are a very different kettle of fish. They do not

process information or possess the personality structures

or life experiences of adults. Children tend to come at

things from a much more direct, uncluttered perspective.

They want to know, they want fixity and they want to work

it all out. A mature spirituality tends to leave behind black

and white articles of faith and can be anything but fixed and

certain. Explaining this to others, not least a child, can be a

tough call.

living in a way that is congruent with what

we say is true, mirroring those qualities of

the divine that we want children to know…

My children and grandchildren know something of my

religiosity – they’ve been to church with me, seen the books

I’ve written, shared grace at mealtimes. I resolved long ago

never to proselytise, but such a resolution from an adult

requires that we feel no need to make children believe

what we believe, that we are not afraid that they won’t get it

‘right’ without our instruction, that we trust God is at work

in them. God talk, when it comes up, can thus be part of

ordinary conversation.

When children raise those spiritual questions, such an

encounter is full of opportunity to edge them towards truth.

But the adult has to respond from a place of self-awareness

and clarity of intention; we bring all our unconscious and

conscious stuff into such encounters. The nature of our

relationship to the Beloved - the degree of love, trust, fear -

leaks into any adult-child discourse.

Perhaps one of the greatest services we can offer to

children in their spiritual formation is to get ourselves out

of the way, to put all our stuff to one side and seek to really

be with the child, to see the world from their point of view

and find language and stories that fit with the child’s real

world experience - not just ours. And to do so authentically

- ‘walking our talk’, speaking and living in a way that

is congruent with what we say is true, mirroring those

qualities of the divine that we want children to know. Indeed,

to children we are Gods, but they also have the knack of

sussing out hypocrisy and deception. Truth is sabotaged

when we speak of a loving God, then behave brutally.

It is common in spiritual direction to meet people seeking

the reality of God who are blocked by unhealthy projections

onto God acquired from parents during childhood. One

woman I met was frightened by God – to her a remote

male figure always ready to punish if she ‘failed’ him. Here

spirituality and psychology overlap - for in exploring her

relationship with her father, guess what he was like?

Recently my 13-year-old grandson and I took off for a

holiday to Iona. I was reminded how ‘side to side’ moments

- in the car or walking the hills - provide a different milieu

for conversation. Facing outward rather than each other we

talked and talked over every aspect of meaning in life. The

ordinary moment cohabited by the young and old person

is full of potential for truth seeking. It’s always a mutual

process too; I find it hugely enriching to see faith and

myself, warts and all, through the eyes of children.

As for that incident with my granddaughter and the

‘punishing’ God, it made me much more circumspect about

church services. I have resolved not to expose any of my

grandchildren to language that tells them they are anything

but beautiful, precious and worthy and loved by God as they

are. To do otherwise would be a kind of child abuse.

It is worth reflecting on adults that impressed and helped

form us when we were young with their loving virtues.

Are they not with us still, and thus enjoying a kind of

immortality? We adults are doing the same now with the

adults of the future. Who we are and what we do now is

helping to form the legacy of Truth in them. That is the

measure of the responsibility we bear. How will they hold us

in their hearts long after we are gone?

r

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I find it hugely enriching

to see faith and myself,

warts and all, through

the eyes of children.

Stephen Wright works with

organisations developing the

practice of healing, spiritual care,

conflict resolution and staff support.

He is an ordained interfaith minister

and spiritual director and brings a

rich experience of spiritual practice

from many faiths to his work.

The Sacred Space Foundation,

Fell End, Mungrisdale,

Cumbria CA11 0XR

t: 01768 77983

w: www.sacredspace.org.uk

e: jeannie@sacredspace.org.uk

editions • Journeying spiritually with children

t

Editions 3.indd 5 07/10/2015 16:45


When grandparents come to visit,

they join us on the prayer stair

because that is what we do.

y

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Editions 3.indd 6 07/10/2015 16:45


PRAYING

as a family

Halfway up the stairs of their new manse, a mysterious little cupboard

gave Karen Turner the idea of a new family routine…

I

went on a wonderful retreat when my youngest son was

18 months old. It was very hard to leave him, but to be

honest it was also amazing to enjoy some solitude and

some silent time with God.

When I returned, however, I realised that my experience felt

strangely disconnected from the rest of my life. I came to

the conclusion that I didn’t want to have the kind of spiritual

life that was just waiting for the next retreat (however good

they may be). I wanted my spiritual life to be about all of

my life and to include the people that I live with. In fact, I

wanted my family to be a bit like a monastic community.

Why not? Aren’t families what monasteries are modelled on,

after all?

I know that all families and households are different, but

in our case there are four of us, and our boys are 9 and 12.

Several years ago when we were in the process of moving to

where we currently live, there was a Bible passage that kept

popping up. You know how that sometimes happens?

It was the story of Jacob’s dream of a ladder connecting

heaven and earth in Genesis 28 .In that time of upheaval and

mourning and change, it comforted us, reassuring us that,

even if it didn’t feel like it, God was with us in that place.

‘Wherever you go,’ God says to Jacob, ‘I will watch over you’.

As we explored our new home, one of the things we first

noticed was that the house had a relatively large landing

halfway up the stairs with a mysterious little cupboard in the

wall. Almost immediately, I think, we thought that it could

become a kind of prayer corner for us in this house and we

called it the ‘prayer stair’.

Our boys, then both primary school aged, chose what colour

to paint the inside of our cupboard on the prayer stair and

then they did the painting. We talked about what we would

do there and how we would do it .We filled the cupboard

with things that we thought would help us to pray: Bibles,

books, a candle, holding crosses, pictures and a chalkboard

where we could write the names of those we wanted to

remember.

We don’t have a set-in-stone formula that we use, although

we usually have a Bible reading taken from a lectionary and

we usually choose one of several ways to pray together out

loud. Sometimes we use liturgies and set forms of prayer.

Occasionally the boys take the initiative to lead what we

do – either by typing up their own liturgy or even by making

a PowerPoint. We’ve sometimes listened to a song or

sometimes have sung one.

This happens most nights but not all nights, for various

reasons. It could be that one of us has to rush out for a

meeting or someone calls round. Sometimes the boys

complain about going on the prayer stair. I should be quick

to say that the prayer stair only happens most nights

because my husband is quite good at keeping us to it –

I tend to be more forgetful.

Just in case I’m painting a very pious image in your mind,

I should also say that it sometimes happens that one of

us gets the giggles, and, catching as they are, it has been

known for us all to laugh until tears run down our faces.

This, too, can be a gift. (And to be honest, some parts of the

Bible are really funny.)

We filled the cupboard with things that

we thought would help us to pray.

The most surprising thing to me about our prayer stair

tradition is the people who have joined us there. When

grandparents come to visit, they join us on the prayer stair

because that is what we do. There isn’t usually another time

during their visit when we pray together so this has felt

really precious.

We recently had some young people from a former youth

group visiting. They joined us on the prayer stair. It was a

bit of a squeeze. Even babysitters and our children’s friends

have joined us on the prayer stair. I think it doesn’t feel

weird because it has become normal for us.

When storms rage outside or within us, the prayer stair

offers a moment of sanctuary that we are sometimes able

to accept. At times this has felt life-saving.

It may be that the prayer stair pattern won’t work so

well when our children are teenagers, or if we move to a

different house, but whatever form our prayer takes, I hope

it will be as normal a part of our lives as the stairs that we

walk up and down each day.

editions • Journeying spiritually with children

u

Editions 3.indd 7 07/10/2015 16:45


of children

and christian

meditation

Roz Stockley explains the benefits of children’s regular meditation times

Children are natural contemplatives so if we

encourage them to be still and open their hearts

to the divine love within, they will have a gift to

last the rest of their lives. Sowing the seed of

meditation in the young child allows God do the work of

God and provides the foundation for paying attention, which

is love 1 .

Why is it that children understand about Christian

meditation, when it may take a lifetime for adults to find this

out? You would be amazed that children as young as four

‘get it’ quite quickly, without the agonising and prevaricating

that often haunts their older relatives, friends or teachers.

After being introduced to the mantra, or prayer word, which

is to be repeated throughout the silent time, children settle

into this silence naturally and calmly. There is no objective,

we tell them, but to spend time with Jesus. And that is what

they do – once a day, every day, in many Christian schools in

the UK and in 25 other countries throughout the world.

“Sometimes the children who benefit the

most are the children with special needs”

It was in 2005, through the initiative of Bishop Putney, in

Townsville Diocese, Australia, that all school children were

introduced to Christian meditation, following the practice

adopted by Dom John Main and, after his death, by The

World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM). Once

the practicalities had been worked out and the programme

implemented, it began to have a powerful transformative

effect on children. Through teaching the children the value

of silence in a very noisy and busy world and introducing

them to prayer that is not talking to God but listening to

him, the teachers began to notice the fruits of the spirit

(Galatians 5:22) – joy, peace, love, understanding, patience

etc. – developing in their students. This was alongside

improving academic performance. Moreover, the children

themselves began to understand that they were becoming

different through meditation. Praying together in this way –

Christian meditation is often called the prayer of the heart

– seemed to be developing community in a way that had not

been obvious before, where children become more aware of

the other and more considerate towards them.

Following on from this wonderful example, Meditatio, the

outreach arm of WCCM, adopted the practical principles

and developed a programme for introducing meditation

to primary school children in the UK and other countries.

This programme involves, as a general rule, introducing

meditation to all the school staff at one time, to enable

them to take it to the children themselves, at a time in the

school day where it is most appropriate. As a consequence,

it is a whole school activity, although year groups will

meditate for different time periods. The rule of thumb is

that each child will eventually meditate for one minute per

year of age, even though the start point can be as little as

one minute in total. The most common time to pray in this

way is after the lunch break, when children return to a

classroom bathed in gentle music and prepare to meditate.

A timer installed on the school server enables the start

and end of meditation to be selected by the teacher before

meditating so that all staff present can meditate with the

children.

Sitting together in meditation where there is no competition,

no judgement, children from all backgrounds or with special

needs are equal in this genuinely inclusive practice. Some

of the children come from very difficult backgrounds; some

are unduly pressured by parental expectations of academic

success, but no matter what their background is, it seems

that all benefit from periods of silence and stillness and

enjoy the opportunity of building a relationship with Jesus

through silent prayer.

Of course, introducing children to meditation in school is

not the only pathway and grandparents, parents, First Holy

Communion and confirmation classes can help a child to

know the inner room of prayer. All it needs is the belief that

God is with them and that this silent time is a lovely place

to meet him. And as one school governor said “The child

probably knows far more than we know already … and it is

they who will teach us.”

1 Born Contemplative: Introducing Children to Christian Meditation,

Madeleine Simon

8 i

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“When you meditate you’re

straightaway at peace and that, in

turn, generates positive feelings:

feelings of kindness and goodness

and that really helps with the

children’s self-control,

perseverance and patience.”

Teacher, primary school, Luton.

Roz Stockley is the National Coordinator for WCCM

in the UK and Team Leader, Meditation with Children,

in the West Country.

For more information about Christian Meditation:

www.christianmeditation.org.uk

www.wccm.org

To enquire about Christian meditation with

children, email:

ukmeditationwithchildren@wccm.org

ukmeditationwithteens@wccm.org

editions • Journeying editions spiritually • Glimpsing with children God o 9

Editions 3.indd 9 07/10/2015 16:45


eyes open

WIDE

Hannah Field is blessed by an encounter with openness and expectancy

that reminds her that “God has lots He wants us to see”

it’s important we recognise

the different needs and

passions of the children

10 a

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I’m not usually a fan of traffic jams. To be honest, I don’t

think they’re generally that keen on me either; especially

given their track record of occurring whenever I’m in a

hurry! Today though was different. Today, the traffic jam

brought a smile to my face. You see the queue had been

caused by people eager to get into church.

Over the past few weeks the Girls’ Brigade (GB) team has

been sharing in local schools about the opportunity for

children to join the adventure of exploring life and faith.

People had been praying that the youngsters would come

along to the group to find out more, and God certainly

answered in a massive way – in a way that was far

beyond anything that we had even dared to imagine. Our

expectations were blown away.

While we busily put out more paint pads, pom-poms and

packets of stickers, more and more children bounced

through the doors; their hearts, minds and eyes expectant.

We greeted them enthusiastically, looking forward to

revealing many new things to them, whereas actually, it

was to be them that revealed many new things to us. In

particular they revealed much about journeying spiritually -

and the importance of being open to God, as demonstrated

by this young child’s comment, whilst clambering through a

hoop: “Keep your eyes open wide – God’s got lots He wants

us to see.”

She, and her friends, were expectant.

It is a blessing to encounter openness and expectancy like

this. It is one of the great things about working for and being

a volunteer with GB, as week by week I have the privilege of

walking alongside children; of seeing God’s world through

new and fresh eyes; of exploring, imagining, hoping and

dreaming. It’s great to be able to journey and grow together.

After all, no matter who we are, or what our age, we are all

made in the image of God (Genesis Ch.1:26) and as shared

by Kathryn Copsey: ‘It is not just when a child begins to take

an interest in and respond to Christian teaching that he or

she suddenly develops spiritual qualities: they are within the

child from the moment of conception.’ 1 There’s lots that we

can learn from one another on this journey - and it’s often

the case that children have the best vantage point; pointing

out the things which I can so often fail to see! Children, after

all, are naturally inquisitive; they will dive in and explore,

pray the bold prayers and see afresh those things which can

so easily become over familiar.

Rebecca Nye explains how this helps the journey, as

‘Spirituality depends on our being open and willing to go

deeper;’ 2 . As a mission movement, working with and among

children, this is something that we at GB are passionate

about nurturing as we long to see people discover who

and whose they are; to discover life in all its fullness (John

Ch.10:10).

Volunteers work hard to ensure groups are welcoming,

where children are known, cared for and encouraged.

Places which are full of openness and expectancy,

where it’s okay to ask challenging questions, explore and

simply be. While groups have programme material to

follow, they are encouraged to see this, not as tasks to

be accomplished, but as tools to be used; to help unlock

potential and encourage discovery. According to Nye having

structure like this can help as: ‘So much of spiritual life

involves surprises, ambiguity, mystery and creativity, that

more and more children

bounced through the doors;

their hearts, minds and eyes

having a certain number of known reference points can

give us confidence to go farther and deeper.’ 3 A range of

experiences are needed.

Alongside this it’s important we recognise the different

needs and passions of the children. For some, they will

be helped in their spiritual journey through outdoor

adventures; boating, camping and searching for treasure.

For others, it’s the opportunity to simply sit on a bean-bag

and be still. It’s amazing how God reveals Himself and it’s

always helpful to remember He’s not limited by any of our

plans, programmes and approaches. As shown earlier, we

will indeed often have our expectations blown away.

And so, the next time that I’m in a traffic jam (most likely

tomorrow, M25 here I come), instead of pointlessly weighing

up which lane is likely to move the fastest, I will instead

smile. I will remember the spiritual lessons revealed by God

through children. I will keep my eyes open wide.

God certainly has got lots He wants us to see!

expectant

1 Kathryn Copsey, From the Ground Up: Understanding the Spiritual World of

the Child (Oxford: The Bible Reading Fellowship, 2005) p 24

2 Rebecca Nye, Children’s Spirituality: What it is and Why it Matters (London:

Church House Publishing, 2009), p. 49

3 Nye, Children’s Spirituality, p. 61

Hannah Field is Mission Development Worker for Girls’

Brigade England and Wales; working with churches,

schools and Girls’ Brigade Groups.

The Girls’ Brigade England & Wales,

Cliff College, Calver, Hope Valley,

Derbyshire S32 3XG.

t: 01246 582322

w: www.girlsb.org.uk

e: gbco@gb-ministries.org

editions • Journeying spiritually with children

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And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said,

“Speak to us of Children.”

And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

Kahlil Gibran

‘The Prophet’

12 Shoreline Conversations

www.shorelineconversations.com

© The Shoreline Consultancy 2015

Editions 3.indd 12 07/10/2015 16:45

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