On Sunday, Rev. Susannah put me in charge of the Advent prayer stations. It was an exercise designed to let the kids feel Advent, rather than just hearing about it. In one station, they wrote prayers on strips of red and green paper, making a chain for a Christmas tree. In another, they wrote prayers on a wall for everyone to read. In the third, there was a Fisher Price nativity set (where does one get one of those?), and the exercise was to take a piece of paper and draw yourself into the nativity. Being the Love Actually fan that I am, I drew myself in as a lobster. The last station was tea lights, with large pieces of paper laid out on a table. One said Love, one said Peace, one said Joy, and the last said Hope. The exercise was to say a prayer and to put your tealight next to the piece of paper that represented it. I wanted the kids to pray for something real, and so I said, “I know that you guys won’t throw down if I don’t, so I’ll go first. I went through a divorce this year. It was really hard.” The eldest boy said, “it sounds like you could use some joy.” I said, “I do…. and it’s standing right in front of me.” All the kids smiled, and as I put my candle on the word Hope, I heard one of the kids (not sure which, but I have a good lead) say, “smooth, Lanagan.”
Laying down my feelings first worked. A lot of the kids prayed for peace because their families were fighting. Some prayed for joy for the same reason. It was intimate and beautiful, these children sharing their deepest prayers…. and feeling so grateful and humble that I was the one they chose to listen.
At the end, I prayed over all of them……..
As I do every night.