By Ernie Christie, WCCM Australia
Putting into the Deep was the title I gave to my five seminars and two retreats given in Ontario Canada in early December 2015. I challenged the many participants of the seminars and retreats to do just that for themselves and for their students in their schools. Go deeper and have high expectations that children and young people like adults are searching for meaning in their lives and CHristian Meditation can be the prayer that provides them with life skills to go deeper within themselves as they aim to cultivate interior silence and stillness which can lead them to a deeper understanding of themselves, others and God. In the silence of meditation we let God do the work of God and children learn to be still and know God.
I began my journey first in Sault Ste. Marie where I met Maria Espoito and her team and over seventy principals, teachers , chaplains and Board personnel and led them in an exploration of CM with children. At this first of my seminars I encountered people already sharing this gift of prayer with their children and a hunger to learn more and embed the practice even deeper into a daily practice in their schools. I left confident that Sister Pat, Maria and their team will work towards expanding this prayer of the heart to their schools.
On my second day I met with many leaders from the Hamilton Diocese Partners, leaders who were committed and progressive in their outlook and who spent much time with in constructive dialogue as they began to put together a strategy to advance the practice of CM to children in their many schools. This was an impressive group of leaders who are intent on doing great things in Ontario.
On my third day I presented a full day seminar to 120 teachers, principals, chaplains , parents and Board leaders who enthusiastically embraced the concept of putting into the deep and I left them confident that they will continue the impressive start they have made and start to expand and deepen the practice even more. I left Paris knowing the diocese of Hamilton and the Burford region will continue to progress stillness, silence and simplicity as a major focus of the prayer life of their children.
My fourth seminar was to over 160 principals, teachers, support staff, chaplains and Board leaders in Burlington at the Mancini Catholic Education Center. This group was the largest group I presented to over the week and they like the other centres were well in to their journey of providing quality opportunities for their children to be contemplative. We explored the many facets of teaching children CM and we explored how best to continue to promote this humble simple but radically transformative form of prayer. I left knowing that this group will become real change agents as they endeavour to depth the practice of CM to children and young people.
In the evening I met and led a group of trustees of the Halton Board in prayer and reflection with a depthing in the understanding of CM. This group were appreciative of a chance to experience CM and they certainly are open to supporting this beautiful form of prayer across their schools.
My final seminar was in Ottawa where I met Janet and Steve from the Ottawa Catholic District Board. I worked with over thirty committed Principals, teachers, chaplains and parents in promoting CM with children. This was a most impressive, and motivated group and they really impressed me as we travelled the contemplative path for a whole day together. I know they will grow CM with children in Ottawa and I look forward to witnessing the growth of CM in schools in this district .
I leave Canada weary in body by refreshed by in the knowledge that in Ontario there is much movement of the spirit and the seed that was planted some years ago has certainly taken root and is spreading into a lush tree which is producing life giving fruit.