The Scripture ~ Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name, welcomes me.” Mathew 18:3-5
The Spiritual Focus ~ “Every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” Pablo Picasso
The Breath Prayer ~ Inhale ~ I am, Exhale ~ God’s Child
The Devotion ~ Young children hold a special place in the Jesus narrative and God’s vision for a heavenly community. Young children imagine God even though they may not have the words to explain their experience.
Godly Play is a faith based program founded by the Rev. Dr. Jerome Berryman. He believes children have an innate sense of the presence of God. He recognized that children are able to sense the mystery of God in their lives even though they do not have the language to express it. He created Godly Play as a spiritual practice so that children can express this sense of God through play.
After a recent Yogadevotion class, a participant shared her experience as a mentor for the program. She used the Godly Play practice of setting a lighted object in the center of a group of 4-year-olds and asked them to look at the light and imagine what God might look like. The room was utterly still. If someone did talk, they whispered believing they had to be quiet in case someone was listening to God. In this example, these young children were able to center themselves and be present to God. Not all spiritual practices are like this one, of course, but it does suggest that being childlike, using imagination, and play can open us to a new experience in our relationship with God.
At the recent Yogadevotion Spring retreat a conversation ensued about how yoga began. One person had read that it began long before it was called yoga by people just being playful. They made shapes with their bodies that made them feel physically better, and that led to peaceful community. The retreat participants laughingly admitted they had not considered getting on their mats and playing—without any instruction— just using their imaginations to create a yoga practice!
At the retreat worship on Sunday morning, the theme of imagining God’s presence playfully continued with a reading of the book, Old Turtle, as our devotion. Many had forgotten about the book; others had never read it believing it was a children’s book. All were reminded of how our imagination can bring a new perspective to our relationship with God.