Thirteen adults and nineteen under-5s, coloured balls, bubbles, stickers, sand, fruit, music, stories, puppets and hand cream – all in the mix for this new six-week course in Edinburgh sharing ideas for praying with parents and preschoolers from 6 weeks to 4 years. Running for an hour over six Tuesday mornings in October and November, this course combined an original desire to offer ‘something in the daytime’ with the experience of accompanying parents who, having young children, then find themselves in a very new spiritual landscape.
Claire Starr and Elizabeth White excitedly made plans hoped to bring awareness of God and prayer into the everyday activities of young families; helping to experience and talk with, and about, God who is with us in everything. There are oodles of ways of making prayer fun and yet real; something parents and children can do together in the midst of the ‘untidiness’ of everyday life. Over the sessions we explored things to try out at home, as well as support each other in knowing more of the God who both welcomes children and gives grace to busy adults.
Feedback has been enthusiastic from parents, especially around the course’s use of creativity and linking play with prayer. One key desire was that so often children and adults are separated within church (and society) and so we stayed together; the children offering parents a glimpse into a very ‘here and now’ experience of God, and adults being able to become aware of God in life whilst not needing to necessarily find ‘separate’ time to pray in already busy lives; Duplo and building bricks were a reminder to ponder the things that ‘build us up’ in life, things that knock us down and what we might want to ask God for at this moment. “Thank you God for my house” went up in a bubble and difficult feelings were ‘poured out’ to God as we played with water. Songs with actions from children’s charity ‘Fischy Music’ enhanced an emotional and spiritual literacy which we hope will continue long after the course; and ‘Making Heart-Bread’, a children’s story book about the Examen, now comes recommend to you all!
Here is one toddler holding hands with God through play-doh,
and another planting a bulb as we thought about growing.
‘Basil and Percy’ puppets were firm favourites as they became our guides to the morning’s activities, peeping over the pulpit!
Overall, we hope we were able to offer space to be together in a way that neither child nor adult need feel they have to meet God in the same way, nor at the same level of the other, but can still pray together and receive whatever each needs. With interest and requests from more parents and also from children’s church workers to come along or meet with us to learn more we hope there will be more of these times together to come.
(First published in the Ignatian Spirituality in Scotland newsletter (http://iscglasgow.co.uk/resources/downloads) after the initial Play & Pray course, originally titled ‘Parents , Prayer and Pre-schoolers’, which was held at St James’ Inverleith Church, Edinburgh in 2010)
Play & Pray by Epiphany Group Scotland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.