It may seem a paradox to many that children can be still and silent and enjoy it, but like adults, children also yearn for the experience of meeting God. In some cultures, including our own, respecting children as human individuals in their own right is still a novel idea. The idea that children may have deep spiritual awareness before they are taught a religious faith is only now starting to be acknowledged. At times we underestimate children.
Christianity has displayed a curious attitude to children. The notion of original sin, however enlightened the interpretations of theologians, has encouraged parents round the globe to believe that their babies are somehow innately and irredeemably tainted until they are baptised. The catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that in all baptised children or adults faith must continue to grow after baptism. The sheer gratuitousness of the Grace of Salvation is particularly manifest in infant baptism. A contrasting tradition, equally rooted in our culture, endows children with a simplistic innocence not borne out by psychological insights into child development. Fatally tainted or naively pure and innocent, neither image fosters the idea in adults that children might have something worthwhile to say for themselves about experiencing God, something from which even adults might learn. After just six weeks of meditating using the method taught by John Main, a class of twenty six pre-school children (age 5) was asked; “What does meditation mean to you?” Their responses were beautifully simple. The children meditate everyday for five minutes in a circle. The picture to the right shows the children meditating with their “prayer bear” and candle focus.
In the Townsville Diocese we have introduced Christian Meditation to children in all grade levels in our schools. The experience thus far has been very exciting. After the first six months of our “trial” period all the teachers (fifteen of them) came together to share their initial experiences.
One teacher who was teaching Grade One students (6 years of age) told me the story of Jacob. Jacob had been diagnosed with A.D.D, Attention Deficit Disorder. Young Jacob was a noisy, fidgety, over-active student. He just couldn’t keep still in class. The teacher really didn’t think Jacob could “do” meditation for one minute let alone six minutes of which the program was aiming for. Jacob tried very hard however and he did try to sit still and silent. After three weeks of slowly building up to six minutes of silence the teacher noticed that Jacob would sit on his hands when meditation began. The teacher asked Jacob after one of the meditation sessions why he was sitting on his hands? The teacher tried not to make a judgement about Jacob’s unusual method of meditating but she was intrigued as to why he would sit on his hands. Jacob’s response was beautiful. “I am sitting on my hands because I want to be still for Jesus.” I am not suggesting a miracle happened but Jacob can sit for six minutes, still and silent and he loves his meditation times.
For information regarding Christian Meditation in the Townsville Diocese please follow the link