I was going to post last night’s meditation story today, and I will do it, but first I thought it would be best to share with you the prelude and the ending that my meditations are sandwiched inside.
The environment to storytime is just as important to me as the story itself. At bedtime in our house I like the children to have a clean room. I think it is important to go to sleep with all affairs in order, with nothing cluttering up our journey into the night. So we spend a few moments putting away clothes and books and other bits and pieces … my children keep their most of their playthings in the playroom so there is never much to put away in the bedroom before hopping into bed. We get all settled in bed, sometimes after a short, quiet walk in the evening, turn out the lights and listen in the darkness. I don’t generally have a lamp on or a candle lit for meditation stories, because for meditations, I like their attention to be inward: directing happy, healing thoughts into their bodies. A soft story, a gentle lullaby and the loving presence of a parent is enough comfort to be able to meet the unfamiliarity of darkness at night.
The prelude is in my words, but it might be similar to something you’ve read before. I’ve used several books of meditations for children over the years, and I don’t have them anymore – so unfortunately I can’t share where the original idea of the tree and the garden gate came from. I’ve called our tree the Grandfather Tree because I like the image this implies to the spirit: a great old tree who has seen and heard everything. A loving being who adores children and wants to keep them safe. Someone who can absorb their worries and look after their troubling thoughts for a while, transforming them into love.
This is the long version of the prelude. It is nice to spend time here, for this is the important part of the experience: letting go, relaxing, feeling wonderful before having some fun in our imaginations. I don’t always tell the long version though. Depending upon what I think the kids are up for tonight, I may shorten it and move on to the next part of the sequence.
From the prelude we then begin a short story – usually a journey through a place, and an observation of the things we do there. I keep it really simple. Then when that journey is over we retrace our steps, back to the garden gate and back to the Grandfather Tree, where we can pick anything up that we want to keep. Often I end the story by meeting our angel (what does your angel look like?), who picks us up gently and carries us back to our beds and tucks us in. Our angel closes the curtains and waits at the end of the bed, caring for us until morning. When I tell this ending I often speak the verse:
Guarded from harm,
Cared for by Angels,
Here stand we,
Loving and Strong,
Truthful and Good.
A reassuring ending to a peaceful experience, and an affirmation that we are good and loved and our experiences are valid. A beautiful way to slip into sleep. Then, after a short little lullaby my little ones are very content to lay in the darkness and drift away into sleep, if they have not already crossed the threshold.
Here is the prelude:
Right up high, here on this hill, we are standing underneath the Grandfather Tree. Oh, he is so tall and so strong. His thick roots stretch far out in every direction, and are buried deep within the earth of this hill. He has lived here on this hill a long long time and he has seen and heard many things. His trunk is covered in mottled, crinkled bark and his branches are straight and strong. They are just the right height for you to climb, and you can reach up with your arms and pull yourself up stepping on the branches as you go. Hand over hand and step over step. Hand over hand and step over step. Higher and higher … until after a long time and a lot of climbing you have reached the very top of the Grandfather Tree!
You are up SO HIGH and you can see everything and everywhere! You can see the rivers run from between the mountains and trail their way to the sea. You can see the beach and all the people swimming, and the ocean with the whales returning from their winter wanderings. You can see the city with its tall buildings and the shops and businesses and houses that surround it, with the roads and the cars and all the busy people! You can see schools and parks and playgrounds. Farms and forests and bushland. Animals and birds and clouds and everything and everywhere.
You are not afraid of falling … the Grandfather Tree holds his branches firmly to keep you safe, and even if you did slip he would move his branches to catch you and you would land softly in a pile of leaves. You stay up here for a while, looking at everything, just quietly watching the world go on without you for a moment.
When it is time to go down, you want to take that awesome feeling with you. Take several deep breaths and breathe it in! And when you breathe out you can breathe out all the things that might be making you feel worried or unhappy. You can whisper those things to the Grandfather Tree if you want, and he will take them into his care. Anything that makes your heart sad, or your tummy sore, you can breathe them out or whisper them into the leaves. You don’t need to bring them down with you because you are making room for feeling wonderful.
And when you are ready you can start climbing down the Grandfather Tree. Hand over hand, step over step. Hand over hand, step over step, back down the branches until you are standing amongst the thick roots again, your feet covered in soft grass.
Are you ready to go exploring in that wonderful world you watched from high above in the Grandfather Tree? Give him a hug goodbye and walk over to the garden gate. What does your gate look like today? Well, push it open and let’s see what lies behind it!