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I am very thankful for the comments in this interview on providing places for quiet reflection and contemplation for children. Growing up as a Friend (Quaker) in a liberal Friends Meeting, my earliest memories of experiencing the divine occurred when I was in worship. Our un-programmed worship begins in quiet. If a person feels an inward call to offer an unplanned message they can offer it to those gathered. I learned as a child to listen in the quiet for that still small voice and Light inside of us (Christ, the universe, human goodness, God). I observed others in that quiet and the peace it brought them. I felt in myself the cool quiet pool of love that came from God, and I learned that in my daily life I could "play" at listening inwardly and finding out my own life questions. In our Sunday classes- the format was often a theme related to topics of humanity and morality- we'd get to provide our own answers-or questions- to the topics. The teacher listened and encouraged us onward!

Currently, I lead a committee at our Friends Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia that is figuring out how to welcome babies into our community, and how to be true to children as they grow in our midst. Our proposal is to have a ceremony where children and adults will listen to question about our commitment to being part of youths’ lives in positive ways. We may use this quotation below and these queries (query meaning a spiritual question for prayerful consideration). I find these words mirror much of what was said in this interview!

“Our children are given to us for a time to cherish, to protect, to nurture, and then to salute as they go their separate ways. They too have the light of God within, and a family should be a learning community in which children not only learn skills and values from parents, but in which adults learn new ways of experiencing things and seeing things through young eyes.”
-- Elizabeth Watson, 1980, as quoted in Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association Faith and Practice

Promises by the Meeting Community: Will you promise to welcome these children as full participants in this spiritual community, forming a community learning together across all ages?

Do you acknowledge that these children bring many valuable gifts to our community and that we would be the poorer without the love, insights and questioning they provide?

Do you promise to see our children as individuals we want to know and care for, and provide opportunities when they can get to know and care for us, growing together
through sharing prosperity and adversity?

Do you recognize that this Meeting as a whole shares a responsibility to impart to every child within it those values and practices that are central to our practice as Friends?
Will you always strive to be mindful that the manner in which we live our lives should serve as patterns, as examples, of the Light within, teaching by example how to speak and to listen with love?

*Meeting for Worship described at Atlanta Friends Meeting (Quaker)- We welcome children into this spiritual community!