Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hand in hand with Jesus

Listen to this post:

Last night, in the spiritual-nurture group I facilitate, we talked about early, childhood experiences of the Divine. Seemed only fair as we started out three weeks ago sharing our pain, often stemming from childhood. And, last week, we did an exercise, heart play, that tapped our inner child. Participating in and witnessing that free-form play was magical – and so were the explanations of what each temporary "sculpture" represented.

I [Who am I kidding? I am not in charge, just the messenger who can manage, occasionally, to listen] wanted to use and build on that openness, which was last week's topic, this week as we explored "Deepening Connection."

Our spiritual foundations are laid so very early and we don't often acknowledge or share them, whether joyful or painful. In nurturing children (who really end up nurturing and teaching me), I have rediscovered that natural openness. They have not yet acquired the filters, wounds and baggage we adults bring.

Of course, I have an evening outline and know what the queries we discuss will be. However, I never, fortunately, seem to have time to give them personal thought. I do think that would spoil the movement of Spirit within the group and be an unfair (dis)advantage. It's not an over-thinking, but rather a deep response these questions aim to elicit.

As we were worshipping and reflecting on the question [What is an early, first or natural experience you had with the Divine/Spirit/God?], I was blank for a bit, except for focusing on the early negative memory I had shared two weeks ago. One that was a human/church experience, not of God. And then this precious, tattered book from my childhood floated into my heart and thoughts. "If Jesus Came to my House" is the story of a boy, probably an only child, desperate for companionship and rescued by a one-day visit from Jesus, also a boy. That book taught me more about Jesus than any formal schooling. By reading and loving that story, I realize now that I considered Jesus (filling in for God) as my constant companion. Of course, I was blessed with a twin sister, so have essentially never felt alone except for the times I let my pain isolate me.

This line has always spoken loudest to me:

And then I think I'd show Him the corner in the hall, 
where I'm sometimes frightened by the shadows on the wall.
I always have to hurry when I'm going past at night, 

but hand in hand with Jesus I'd be perfectly all right.

The black-and-white-with-a-spot-of-red illustrations have always captivated me. They're graphic and strong; no iffiness about them. When I googled the title, I came across a blog that shared the text and pages and was astounded at the responses it drew: all very similar to mine. You can access that at http://www.collectiblechildrensbooks.com/2009/04/if-jesus-came-to-my-house.html

Apparently this little book, published 80 years ago, has helped many others know Jesus as a friend when they were children. That early foundation, for me, has been a gift. One I have been blessed to recently rediscover.

• What is an early, first or natural memory I have of the Divine or Jesus?
• How has that created a foundation for my current spirituality?
• How can I tap those early experiences and bring that openness to my current    practice/relationship with God?
• How has an early book, Scripture, conversation, etc., stuck with and guided me over the     years?
• What have children taught me about a relationship with the Divine?

Small in stature,
wide-eyed and willing

through Jesus

Understood that when
someone said my heart
was black with sin,
it wasn't true

Always felt
cradled and

Believed in
the reverence
of nature and animals,
let them reach into
and teach me

My foundation
was set sturdily

Now, my task
is to clear the
clutter and see
that's what's still
holding me up

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