When my daughter, Allison, was a child I wanted her to know that Jesus loves her and is there for her in good times and bad, but was puzzled about how best to go about it. One autumn afternoon, having arrived early to pick her up at Montessori school, I wandered through the open door of the staff break room. In a magazine for Montessori teachers I was excited to see an article entitled The Religious Potential of the Child, by Sofia Cavalletti. I quickly scanned the article, and then carried the magazine to the educational director to ask, “Do you know anything about this?” I was thrilled to hear her answer, “Yes.” She put me in touch with a former school parent, Tina Lillig. Tina invited me to join the first-ever regional training course for adults in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a Montessori-based approach to children’s spirituality. I enrolled in the course and read Cavalletti’s book, The Religious Potential of the Child.
Disappointed that we would have to wait until the following fall to enroll Allison in a Good Shepherd program, I asked Tina what I could do at home. She recommended that I set up a prayer corner and begin the habit of daily prayer with Allison. On a wide ledge next to a window in our attic I laid out a white cloth napkin and a small votive candle. We lit the candle, cuddled, and said our own, very simple prayers. Gradually, we added a few seasonal decorations: a small vase with a flower, fall leaves and acorns, Christmas greenery, pictures, or other objects to create a sacred space. In a few years, the prayer table moved to a table in the living room, enlarging our daily experience of sacred space.
Anyone can create a sacred space at home, a place to pray and talk about Jesus. Set a small table with a pretty cloth and light a candle. Using an adult Bible (not a children’s Bible; more on that in another blog), read Psalm 23 slowly and out loud. Leave some time for silence, then choose one sentence or word and ask: what could this word or phrase mean? Instead of answering, wonder with your child about what the answers might be. Silence allows Jesus, the Inner Teacher, to speak to your hearts. If your child asks you a question, first ask her or him “What do you think?” You may be surprised at the wisdom of your child. Choosing one word or sentence will enable you to go deep together. Each sentence, each word of Scripture, is rich with meaning. Say a prayer together to close. With this approach, your contemplation of the 23rd psalm can last many days.
My interactive app for the iPad, Who Are You, Jesus? brings Jesus’ message of love from the Bible to you and your child in a beautiful, engaging way that is easy to use. Touchscreen technology makes God’s message of love accessible to children of all abilities wherever they are. Who Are You, Jesus? adapts to children’s learning styles by enabling them to hear the words of Jesus and respond verbally or non-verbally, using a keyboard, speech-enabled dictation, and a built-in drawing capability. All the child’s responses are automatically saved and become their own, unique book about Jesus. Find it at whoareyoujesus.com
One year after I published Women’s Inspirational Daily Prayer, I published an app for the iPhone based on my book so that women could have the prayers at their fingertips. I began writing this blog to share insights and and art that arise, in part, out of my experience coming closer to Jesus with children and adults in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Working on the women’s prayer app inspired me to create Who Are You, Jesus? This blog is the first in a series entitled “Children and Adults Pray Together.” I welcome your comments or questions. Please share this via email, or on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, using the hashtag #WhoAreYouJesus. Like us on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/whoareyoujesus
Until next time . . .
P.S. Learn more about the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at cgsusa.org