if this be not your will, frustrate it:
Frustrate it fully and frustrate it quickly,
And move our heart’s desire
closer to the heart of your desire for us.
But if it be of your will,
Then continue to open for us
the generosity of heart, mind, and means
that are needed,
And may this generosity begin with us.
This prayer comes from The Heart in Pilgrimage: A Prayerbook for Catholic Christians by Eamon Duffy. What a powerful prayer to pray at the beginning and discerning stage of any project! It is so hard sometimes to know when to keep pushing that door, and when to look instead for the other door which may be opening.
The letter of James in the New Testament reassures us that “If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you (James 1:5). If we are attentive, and open, willing to listen, we will be guided. James goes on to warn us to ‘ask in faith, never doubting” (James 1:6). Faith for James isn’t the power of positive thinking, but faithful action. When we have the courage to step out and act upon the wisdom given, not constantly second guess ourselves and the divine leading, when we commit ourselves, our time, our resources to where we sense God at work, we will meet with the incredible generosity of God.
I’m starting to read Jerome Berryman’s latest book, The Spiritual Guidance of Children (Morehouse Publishing 2013). While I was waiting for it to become available here, I’d do searches for it using its subtitle – Montessori, Godly Play and the Future. Crazy as it may sound, I only really noticed its title when I read the opening words of the preface:
“This book reframes ‘Christian education’ for children as spiritual guidance. It explores how best to transfer the whole Christian language system, which implies a way of life and spiritual development, from one generation to another.”
What does that reframing entail? No doubt I’ll discover more as I read the book. But right away my spirit responded with a delighted ‘yes!’ to that phrase. Spiritual guidance for children – we cannot operate within that paradigm unless we accept that they are already on the journey, their unique journey with God. On the other hand, we cannot think in terms of guidance unless we truly believe that we have something of value to offer them from the Christian tradition.
‘Spiritual guidance’ sounds like an attentive, respectful practice, one which cannot be done with a heavy hand but which is nonetheless intentional. From what I have already experienced of Godly Play, the method developed by Jerome Berryman, I know it will be both playful and profound. It sounds like something I want to be a part of, something the various generations do together. To quote from the preface again:
“This kind of guidance follows Jesus’ counsel that in order to be spiritually mature, we need to become like children and to become like children we need to welcome them, which in turn reveals him and the one who sent him. The language of the Christian people flows out of Jesus’ life and words, so it makes sense that this language can be used to guide us back to our source as well as toward our ending.”