In week six of Term One St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School held the first Prayer Space – Dadirri for the year. The Prayer Space was created for senior students from years seven to twelve. The Prayer Space theme was Lent/Easter and there were seven stations: Palm Sunday (Joy), The Last Supper (Friendship), Gethsemane (Big Questions), Carrying the Cross (Worries), Forgive them (Forgiveness), The Cross (Sorry) and Resurrection (Hopes and Dreams).
I was struck by the way the students reflectively entered the space and interacted quietly with the different stations. Not surprisingly some of the themes running through the Prayer Space were coronavirus, concerns about ATAR, end of year external exams, assignments, sickness friendship issues, concern for families particularly those overseas and relationships. Prayer Space is invitational, meaning students are invited to move away from the busyness of their lives and sit and reflect, think or pray. This gives students permission to participate in their own ways.
I have been reading a book called “How to do Nothing,” and while I don’t agree with some of the concepts within the book, Jenny Odell pointed out that many of us feel guilty when we do nothing. When I asked the students how many felt guilty about doing nothing, many of them put up their hands. I do not advocate that our students do nothing, they need to keep on top of their responsibilities, however, we need to be aware of the enormous pressure the students feel. Somewhere in the busyness of life, we need to help our children be counter- cultural and find time to contemplate, reflect, think and if they choose to pray.
I believe Jesus revealed to us how to be countercultural. He was in demand, word had got out that he healed the sick. Many people wanted to be with him and be healed. Yet, he took time out, he withdrew from the crowd, to pray. To replenish his soul, to connect with everything that gave him life. It was like he knew he could not give anymore until he had time out.
The students had time out in the Prayer Space. This gave them a chance to think, reflect and pray about what was on their hearts and in their minds. Some came back in their lunch time, seeking, longing for peace.
Susan is the chaplain at St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School in Brisbane.