I should be writing Christmas cards... but I've had the impulse to write something for the tragically neglected "Secret Women's Business".
After discussion with Penney about the "10-20-30" meme I began to reflect a little more on my personal and spiritual formation... the influences of people, culture and experience on my "raw temperament" if you like.
Educational experts tell us that early childhood experiences are the most formative of all experiences. Is the world a safe place? Are people safe? How do I communicate? These earliest experiences go deepest into our psyches... but of course, chances are we will remember nothing of these experiences.
I was born into a loving family... and the "image of God" communicated to me via my parents was of power (they are big) and of love (they look after me.)
I am interested in the power of "first liturgies". "Grace" before meals in my home was: "Make us truly thankful, Oh Lord, for what we are about to receive, for Christ's sake, Amen." I think this is a prayer that is deep within me, for I am always grateful for food... and have a sense of compassion for those who are hungry.
My nighttime prayer was: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. God bless Daddy, God bless Mummy, God bless Rosemary, John and Janet, in Jesus' name, Amen". (Rosemary and John are my elder sister and brother). In my room was a little china ornament shaped like an open book, with a picture of a child in a pious posture, and the first part of this prayer was printed upon it. Now this prayer is seemingly macabre, and I could not imagine praying this prayer with my own children. Funnily enough though, I find I have little fear of death. Somehow there is a confident expectation within me that death is to be with Christ, and that this will be a joy. Again I wonder whether that "early liturgy" did something within my soul that has stayed with me.
When I was 6-years-old I went to the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) by bus to hear Billy Graham preach. A dominant memory of the day was the discomfort of cutting a molar, and my curiosity why so many people walked down to the oval from the stands at the end of the sermon. I sat on my mother's knee that night, and she explained that the people were becoming Christians. I said I wanted to be a Christian too, and I remember praying with her to ask Jesus into my heart. It's still a warm memory for me all these years later.
I'd like to invite others to share any memories they have of early childhood experiences, and perhaps to reflect on why these memories are significant to them. I'd be interested to hear from you!