Perhaps you are wondering why these prayers aren't set to be attractive
to children. Why there are no flowers, and butterflies and uplifting things
to look at. This is because any child, even the child within, spends more
time alone in the dark than we realise. A child cries and complains more
than an adult, and I don't think this is because adults have learned more
self discipline. Just as a cold affects a child badly, because its sinuses
are smaller than ours, so pain hurts worse, because the nerve endings are
the same number, but the skin surface is smaller. A child's emotions are
stronger too, not because they've got less sense, but because they have
no sense of time. Which is something great mystics share with them.
If we can teach a child that the dark is full of presence, the presence
of a loving God, and refrain from teasing him about the fears that he may
have, we have taught him something valuable indeed. For there is indeed,
something under the bed, and in the wardrobe..
in the dark
in the dawning.
Once you were very frightened.
You were in a garden in the dark, left
alone by all your friends.
You knew that men were coming to catch
you, and take you away, and do horrible things to you, and kill you.
I am frightened.
You know how I feel, because you were
Even though I cannot see you, let me
know you are here. Be my friend, so I needn't be lonely.
You were brave and did not run away.
Teach me to be brave with you, in the
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee Lord, my soul to
Nothing about a child is 'little' except its body. Its mind is growing
faster than ours, its soul is as great, or greater, its heart feels perhaps
more passion than we do.
We should no more 'talk down to', or 'pray down, with' a child than
we would to or withJesus himself. The last thing we should do is to innoculate
a child against Christianity, by teaching it watered down truth or by using
it to manipulate their behaviour. Going the extra mile does not
mean you should help mummy with the dishes. (grin, those dishes belong
to the whole family, so does their cleaning). Our faith isn't a way of
controlling our children or even of teaching them morals and manners. Those
are cultural things. Faith is, or ought to be, a way to set them free.