You know those weird spacing-off moments where your eyes go all starey and your brain turns to mush? And if you're not alone, people say things like, "Penny for your thoughts!" or "Am am I boring you?"
Neither. I'm thinking, I am here, and this is now.
I remember the very first time I thought it. I was about eight years old and we were on a train to Woodford to visit my Aunt Gwen. The train had squealed to a halt for no apparent reason and we waited for some time. It was one of those buzzing June mornings when it's so still that you hear things - a heartbeat, a breath, the sound of birds. Looking out, I could see horses and hedgerows and fields covered in buttercup-tilts of gold. It was in one of those second class railway carriages on a high, badly sprung seat that I had my first revelation of mortality.
|Photo courtesy of freefoto.com|
They say that from the age of eight or nine, children become aware of mortality. Today. I was watching a group of ten and eleven year olds, practising a song for their show next week, to mark their last days at primary school. The words were moving - all about friendship and memories and moving on. These children, who have been together in the classroom for seven years, and are going their separate ways next week, had their arms round each other's necks ad their eyes closed and they were singing their hearts out. It was an I am here, and this is now moment. And judging from the damp faces by the end of the morning, they knew it.
Children understand far more than we think. According to an article I saw today, they have a predisposition to believe in God because they assume that everything in the world was created for a purpose. The researcher, Dr Barrett, claims that anthropologists have found faith in children even in cultures where religious teachings are withheld from them. Children are in touch with God. This does not surprise me.
I am not a writer of children's fiction but am in awe of those who are. As a Christian teacher, who longs to see children exposed to life-affirming values - truth, kindness, honesty, integrity - I love seeing these things in the books I read them, the historical figures we study, even the songs we sing. The show the children are performing next week is Aladdin, written by the talented Mark and Helen Johnson. In 1989, Mark and Helen were asked to write a nativity musical by the Head teacher of the school that Helen worked in. It was such a success that, within months, they felt called to give up their jobs and develop their gift of writing musicals. It was a big step of faith but they set up their own publishing and production company so they could distribute their music to schools. Inspired by the story of Noah, they saw their job as capturing and preserving all that is good - the breadth and diversity of life and the world around us, passing it on through the medium of music.
Out of the Ark music has grown from a desk under the stairs to a thriving business supplying musicals to over 18,000 primary schools, both in the U.K. and abroad. On the website they say,
"Out of the ark music was born out of a passionate belief that children deserve the very best.. Good songs leave a lasting impression and contain huge potential to make a difference to our lives. The importance of music and the arts cannot be emphasised enough and though often overlooked, they are a vital part of our children's education."
If you are a writer of children's fiction, or an aspiring one, be encouraged. Your stories are needed. Good books leave a lasting impression and contain huge potential to make a difference to our lives.
And who knows? In some way, God may use your words to make a difference to a child's I am here and this is now moment.
Click on the link to see the book on Amazon
Deborah Jenkins is a primary school teacher and freelance writer who has written articles, devotional notes and short stories. She has recently completed a novella, The Evenness of Things, available as an Amazon e-book and is currently working on a full length novel.. Deborah loves hats, trees and small children. After years overseas with her family, she now lives in south-west London with her husband, a Baptist minister, and a cat called Oliver.