God's table is infinitely wide
In November 2020, Jess Monopoli and her team ran a brilliant prayer space in the library at Eskdale Academy in Hartlepool. It was a 6 week long prayer space that helped nearly 180 children to explore 24 different ways to pray.
Jess said, “I planned the sessions in 45 minute blocks with 15 minutes in between each one to clean down and disinfect each area. I only put out the resources needed for each session (30 plasters/ 30 scratch art block etc) and each class brought their own pencil/pens with them so there was no cross contamination. Each year is a bubble so they were able to all come in together. All in all though, it felt very much ‘normal’ and I felt safe and confident that we were able to do it safely.”
One of Jess’ primary concerns was how the pupils’ mental health and emotional literacy had fared over the course of a long year during a pandemic. The team wanted to use prayer activities to help pupils reflect on their wellbeing and process big emotions. What they weren’t expecting was how many pupils were willing to open up about emotions and difficult topics. Many pupils didn’t realise that prayer isn’t just ‘eyes shut, alone and in complete silence’, and this prayer space helped them learn that there are lots of imaginative ways to talk to God, experience God or simply explore feelings. In our discussion with her, Jess mentioned that the prayer space enabled children to start conversations about issues they are dealing with and volunteer information, as well as being safe and inclusive.
“God’s table is infinitely wide. Prayer spaces reflect the hospitality God has for us all, and this was reflected in the way [the pupils] interacted with prayer activities.” – Jess Monopoli
“I couldn’t say ‘amen’ at the end because I totally don’t believe in God, but you’re doing a great job.” – Boy, Aged 8
“There was one little boy who asked God for super speed powers but if he couldn’t manage that then turning him into a penguin would be a good second option, another of my favourites from the day.” – Jess Monopoli
“God’s table is infinitely wide. Prayer spaces reflect the hospitality God has for us all, and this was reflected in the way [the pupils] interacted with prayer activities.” – Jess MonopoliPosted on 1st February 2021