The Simplicity of a Child
Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.Pete Seeger
Christian meditation with children offers a return to original innocence. It nurtures young people’s ability to retain a sense of wonder in their lives, and encourages others to do the same.
Before we, as adults, are able to join in this work, though, we have to acknowledge our own forgetfulness and distraction. It’s not a question of us teaching them anything, but rather of us learning from their simplicity.
Growing up, we increasingly insulate ourselves from wonder and awe as we buy into a materialist culture offering us the power, control and predictability that we seem to crave in our lives. As adults we are often more concerned about how we are doing rather than what we are doing. It’s all too easy to get caught up in analysing or trying to ‘improve’ our meditation, rather than just doing it. For children it is more straightforward. They are happy to sit down together in silence, let go of their thoughts and simply enjoy the experience of meditating. This is what we can learn from children. Not that Christian meditation is easy – anyone who has ever tried it will vouch for that. But it is simple and we don't need to read lots of books or take a degree course to do it. Through their practice, children are leading the way in our schools, showing how Christian meditation can change not only their own lives but also the lives of those around them.
Children meditate together as naturally as they play together. They enjoy the simple discipline with its few clear rules. They like to take part in the familiar activities associated with each meditation session: singing an introductory song, striking the gong to indicate the start and end of the silence and singing a blessing in conclusion. The simple routine brings with it a peace and calmness in an otherwise busy and noisy day and the children are the first to appreciate the advantage of taking time out. It has become clear that many children instinctively value this pure ‘prayer of the heart’. Some have gone on to suggest that their teachers might themselves benefit from more time devoted to Christian meditation while others have been eager to take it home to teach to their parents and siblings.
God is a friend of silence. His language is silence.Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Children form friendships easily and will often play with almost total strangers. In contrast, as adults, we often feel the need to go through a qualifying process in which we try to discover other people’s backgrounds, their likes and dislikes, social standing, achievements, even their political and religious allegiances, before committing to calling them friends.
Jesus was notably different in his attitude to friendship: I call you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my father. You did not choose me I chose you ……… This is my command, love each other. (John 15: 15 - 17)
The friendship brought about by Christian meditation is a particularly powerful form of friendship. It makes a radical, counter-intuitive proposal: that we can become friends by sitting in total silence with each other. This seems to present no problems to children. In the classroom they quickly form a loving community through meditating together on a regular basis. In this community of love the children become more caring towards each other, quickly noticing if one of the class is out-of-sorts, ill-at-ease or just unhappy.
Best of all, the children learn to be friends with Jesus. Countless numbers of children will vouch for the fact that they have met Jesus as a result of their meditation. They have done this by simply being silent and attentive to his call. Once that friendship is formed it will endure for the rest of their lives.
- Charles Posnett