Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me praise his holy name.
Stilling: Being present to God
You may want to light a candle, or say a short prayer as you intentionally place yourself in the presence of the Holy One.
Find a comfortable position and be still for a couple of minutes. Concentrate on your breathing – slowly, in and out. Relax your muscles. Don’t worry about any thoughts that come into your head; acknowledge them, then come back to your stilling exercise.
Say the following prayer as you commit to being in God’s presence:
You sustain me and feed me;
Like a shepherd you guide me;
You lead me to an oasis of green,
To lie down by restful waters.
Dwell in me that I may dwell in you.
From Jim Cotter, Psalms for a pilgrim people, Psalm 23
I have titled this chapter ‘Soul’, and in many ways it perhaps captures the soul of the book. In the chapter I explore this deepest aspect of our humanity as a growing awareness of ourselves, of other people, of the world we live in, and of God. In each of these areas, I suggest that the call to ‘become like a little child’ is a call to a redeemed awareness:
- Of ourselves as beloved children: As I reflect on Jesus’s invitation to us to become like little children, I wonder if this is an invitation to develop a redeemed self-awareness. Perhaps Jesus is inviting us to start seeing ourselves as God sees us: not as inadequate, messed-up sinners, condemned and trapped because we can never be good enough, but as beautiful, beloved children who can be set free and can change.
- Of our relationship to others: Our awareness of others, as part of our true spiritual development, involves recognition that we are part of humankind, that others are important… With this comes awareness of suffering – that there is a world out there where people are hurting… What is needed in our spiritual development is the capacity to respond to that awareness, to speak out on behalf of, and to act with care towards those who are suffering injustice – both those on our doorstep and those further afield.
- Of the wonder and beauty of the world in which we live: Perhaps part of what it means to become like a little child is to recapture some of that sense of awe and wonder: to appreciate the beauty around us, and ultimately to attribute praise to the Creator of that beauty… Becoming like a child involves discovering again that the world is ‘wonder-filled’.
- And of our heavenly father as a God who loves each one of us unconditionally; who values each of us for who we are; who believes in us, encourages us, helps us to grow, supports us when we are upset or frightened, forgives us when we have gone wrong; and who is always there to welcome us and shower us with affection.
Prayer: Encountering God
In your response to your contemplative prayer, I invite you just to sit in stillness in God’s presence. Sit quietly for 20 minutes or so, allowing God to enfold you in his love.
Closing: Going on in God’s presence
Finish your time by saying the Lord’s Prayer.