Alison-ChristianJesus said that the kingdom of Heaven belongs to the little ones, children, and that none of us can enter therein unless we become like a child. There are many ways in which we may be being invited to be childlike in our journey with Christ. We can use our time fruitfully in considering the qualities children have that we lose as we mature. One of the things I rediscovered some years ago on retreat was the art and the joy of ‘pondering’.

As a child I know I pondered. Those long holiday afternoons of childhood that most adults remember were periods of intense activity – of course, but there were also hours of lazy pondering; sprawled on the grass under a tree with a book I was enjoying put to one side for a moment. What happened in these times of meditation? Nothing much; time ticked by gently. I appreciated where I was without analysing or intellectualising. There was no sense of urgency, just peace. Psalm 131 speaks to me of the atmosphere of these times.

1 My heart is not proud, Lord,

my eyes are not haughty;

I do not concern myself with great matters

or things too wonderful for me.

2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,

I am like a weaned child with its Mother

like a weaned child I am content.

As a teenager I also pondered on long walks to school. Even as a college student I remember pondering, lying in front of a fire on Saturday afternoon, doing nothing. And then the “prison walls” as Wordsworth so succinctly put it, crowded in: the prison walls of adult responsibility, adult pressure; the imperative to make sure every moment was usefully spent and to fulfil the obligations of the ‘to do’ list.

We are told that Mary, the mother of Jesus, pondered. She is often painted with a book as a sign of her thoughtfulness. Pondering is a time when instead of grasping at the world or inflicting our agenda on it, we allow it to come to us. We are open and we wait to receive. Pondering is time in the early morning with a cup of tea sitting at a window. Pondering is something we might do before prayer, something that prepares us for prayer because prayer is about receiving, something that turns into prayer.

To ponder is to allow the grace of God to work in us. We have no agenda and we make no demands. We simply enjoy the gift of the moment and the gentle flow of thought as we waste time with our Mother God.