Monday, August 27, 2012

Prayer in a Bottle

There have been those days, boys running like crazy through the yard, on a grand adventure.  A neighbor comes by and says "Wish we could bottle that."  I laugh, because I know how hard they crash.  But I must admit, there are all kinds of things I wish could be bottled. And then today I am amazed to discover that one of my favorite things in the world can be!

Would you believe prayer fits inside old plastic water bottles?

In my classroom of 4 year old's sometimes there are tears.  When it happens I often feel awkward and ill-equipped, sorely out of my element.  As I have pondered how to help, I remembered a suggestion given at the Early Childhood Summer Institute I attended this summer.  One of the presenters demonstrated how an empty water bottle literally becomes a "sanity saver."

The instructions are simple.  Fill the bottle with sand and all kinds of interesting little things that are fun to look at.  Finally add a penny, cap it, and tape it up tight.  When the child is having a difficult time have them take some deep breaths.  Then give them the bottle, and ask them to find the penny.  "Sanity Saver Bottle" to the rescue!

I made one today.

Here's the crazy thing:  I thought I was making this for little kids who needed distraction, but something wonderful happened as I held it in my hands.  I began looking at the beads tumbling in the sand and my heart was strangely soothed.  I began to search for the silver heart, the butterfly charm, the shell.  I found the bead that had once been on my favorite bracelet, the one with subtle streaks of blue and gold, the one that reminds me of harvest and Psalm 126.  And I began to realize that the random things I put in this simple bottle were not so random.  And the bottle itself is not so simple.  Each little bead, and charm, and shell fragment, and sequin come from meaningful parts of my life. Watching them tumble around in the sand, playing hide and seek as they appeared and disappeared, made my heart pause and remember--the Holy One with us always.

Psalm 139 says it this way:

How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  I try to count them--they are more than the sand; I come to the end--I am still with you  (Psalm 139:17-18).

Even if we could count every particle of sand in this bottle, we would never be able to come to the end of God's presence with us.  And if God's thoughts are more infinite than the sand we cannot count, then how much does He think of us?   His thoughts toward us have weight to them.  They are not passing, random thoughts.  They mean something.  They mean something not just to us but for us.  Our sweet Lord has thought every thing through.  Nothing has escaped His attention.  And more than we are waiting for Him, He has been waiting for us to realize we are with Him still.

There is no detail that escapes His notice. 

I don't always know how to calm the 4 year old heart.  But I'm so thankful the Holy Spirit knows how to calm mine.  And I am grateful that the Holy One waits for me to realize that in my sandy life, He is the treasure that I seek.

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