Last Sunday, we got a new batch of wiggly fourth graders in our Sunday School class.
A new set of faces to get to know and love, to sit beside us in our circle in the candlelight, to hear the sacred stories, and to ponder with us what they might mean.
A new chorus of voices, sharing their child wisdom.
A new herd of bodies to teach to get ready.
Getting ready is so important.
We sat on the carpet and talked about how the stories were God's gifts, given to our ancestors, passed down to our grandparents and our parents and now to us. Presents, for us!
We want to be able to be still enough to hear God's voice. To be calm enough to hear God speaking through our own thoughts, to feel God nudging us.
"Don't worry," we told the children. "We'll help you."
"Before you come in, the teacher in the hall will ask each of you, one by one, if you're ready. If you feel too wiggly, that's okay," we said. "You can step out of the line and get all your jumpies out, have another sip of water, and then try getting ready again. You can join the circle when you're ready. But we hope you'll try very hard, because the stories are too special to miss a single word."
It always amazes me that the kids can do this. They really can! Even after a doughnut or two. Even after hanging out in the game room, where ping pong balls whiz across the room and it's too loud to hear yourself think.
Sometimes the kids do it better than I do.
When I'm teaching, I'm completely plugged in, but if it's my week off? I'm not always the model student of the carpet.
My mind sometimes drifts. My To Do lists interfere.
I really should step outside and get my wiggles out.
I was thinking about all of this as I stepped outside this morning, feeling the strange coolness in the air, the dew under my bare feet in the grass, the peppery scent of the muscadines ripening on the vines. As I reached out and touched a purple flower springing from the weeds in our garden, I felt a strange calm pass through me. I listened as a prayer formed in my brain, all by itself.
Thank you, God, that we don't have to do it all. That even when we can't do the work of getting ready, of shaking off our wiggles, of stilling our bodies, of clearing our thoughts, you suddenly appear out of nowhere, surprising us with your presence.
Thank you for preparing us, preparing the Way, even when we can't prepare ourselves. As we walk the path before each of us, help us be on the lookout for You.
What do you do to prepare the way for encounters with God? What helps you still your body and quiet your mind? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Have a wonder-full Wednesday, y'all!
*Photo by lenoz, creative commons