I pray with my students at the beginning of every single class. When I worked in public schools, I called it Breathe.
Always the same words:
Sit up nice and straight and tall, feet flat, rear ends to the backs of your chairs, shoulders back, eyes closed or looking down at your desk. Take a nice deep breath in and out. And another nice deep breath in and out.
You are a person of great dignity and worth. The world got better on the day of your birth. There is nobody better than you.
And one last deep breath in and out.
Last week one of my students asked why I pray that way. The bell had rung so I didn’t answer and then he forgot about it and I did too until just now when I was trying to think of what to write about for today’s blog challenge.
I pray this way because kids need to hear it. Because they get a lot of information from all sides about how they aren’t good enough the way God made them. There are so many things for them to fix, so many things for them to do, so many people for them to please. I call bullshit on all that for the first thing every single day.
I pray this way because sometimes my kids are suffering and this prayer is code that I’m a safe person to air things out with. I’ll steer them towards the help they need.
I pray this way because I need to hear it too and also it reminds me that I am honored and privileged to be any small part of the hero’s journey of the people sitting in rows and rows in front of me.
I pray this way because seven years ago I taught a group of poets who will always and forever be my heart. We were at the start of a spoken word event that had blown up to a much bigger attendance than anyone expected because people heard about how powerful these student poets were and wanted to hear for themselves. I got on stage as the sole adult in charge and to get things started on the right note I opened my mouth and that’s what came out.
Those were great poets. I love them still.
That’s why I pray that way.
How do you pray? Why do you pray that way?