Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Getting Ready

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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!
Love, Becky

*Photo by lenoz, creative commons

11 comments:

Deborah said...

Sounds like Godly Play! My first encounter with this Christian Education was an opening to learning to like children and children's ministry (now love it!), and an opening into my own soul and how to approach and re-approach the stories, let them work on me, wonder with them.
Thanks for sharing this!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

You're exactly right, Deborah. It is Godly Play. I've never been happier with a Sunday school "curriculum"--as you know, it's more a philosophy. The children never fail to make me think in a new way.

Amy Sullivan said...

To prepare the way for my encounters with God?

My fave, fave, favorite thing to do is to be outside. Either walking or sitting on my porch with hot tea, even in hot weather!

It just makes me feel more connected to Him.

Faith Hope Cherrytea said...

i think it's probably different for extroverts/introverts.. one has more wigglies than the other ;)
cute picture you've storied, Becky & how glad i am to have my dead computer revived without further delay in reading today's blog! not used to being without it and it's wide world :)
how i get ready varies ~
first by believing God desires it even more than i do! and honouring and desiring that relationship myself..
can be with journal in hand -
intentionally turning the eyes of my heart toward God -
seeking Jesus' face -
desiring God's Presence -
attentiveness -
by inviting Father, Son and H Sp to sup with me -
relaxed soaking in gentle worship music -
but all with a heart of expectancy-
as my comment frm yesterday applies here-when i search for Adonai God with ALL my heart and being - participatory expectancy - trust & rest in the truth of who God is and desires to be relationally ~
thanks for asking :)

Laura said...

"Get all your jumpies out." Wonder if I can try that with my 9th graders? I love it!!

What do I do? I go to His creation. It always calms me.

Love your description of stories and how they're passed down...

Mompriest said...

I'm more of a contemplative and like to spend about 40 minutes a day in silent prayer/meditation. This process has honed in me an attentiveness to my inner self, and sometimes those wigglies are tough cookies. Of course that's one of the primary reasons for yoga - the idea that if one moves ones body first then it, the body, will be more content to sit in contemplation/prayer/listening to God, which is what the mind really yearns for.

Love your prayer, too.

Jean Wise said...

Love the phrase - get the wiggles out - good way to think about settling down for prayer. I have one spot that helps me, then taking deep breathe and practicing being present, seems to get the monkeys out of my brian. We are just like little kids to God aren't we?

Kristin T. (@kt_writes) said...

This sentence alone says so much about how we should approach our faith communities:

"You can join the circle when you're ready."

How refreshing to know you're wanted and welcomed, and to also know that it's OK to not feel quite ready at the moment—that caring people are there to help, or just to wait.

Barb said...

Hi Becky,

As a child, I had problems sitting still in Sunday school and church service. I love what you are saying and doing. The kids need to know that it is o.k. to get your jumpies out. I think if someone would have done that with me (and friends), we would have been ready to receive the message.
Thank God it is never too late.

Big hugs,
Barb

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Rebecca,

The little post I just wrote once again has a similar theme to what you've written about here regarding preparations.

I love your thoughts and the way you express them. :)

Roxane

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

I taught 5-6th graders for several years....the best of times and the worst of times. LOL.

Sounds like you're well on your way to a wonderful year of discovery and blessings!
:)

Cathy