Last night at camp our staff sat down to worship and pray. I had my littlest one with me… the big kids playing outside near by with a helper.
I put a blanket down on the carpet and instructed my 20 month old to stay on the blanket and to be quiet because we “need to pray and sing.” But, I was skeptical she would be able to not be a distraction to others. However, I always try. I figure at the least she may get better and better at self-control if she has a chance to practice it.
At first she didn’t want to be on the blanket so I held her, she squirmed and fussed, so I sat her down and insisted she read books. As we started singing she stood up on her blanket. The counselor near us was distracted and I worried.
But then I noticed as we moved into singing that my dear’s little face became calm, she looked at the faces with eyes closed and hands raised. She started swaying back and forth to the music.
She continued her gentle swaying rock for the 15 or so minutes we praised God. I began to think about worship, our internal undeniable desire to rock and sway and how even in Jewish tradition prayer is done with swaying, rocking of a head, hands up, rhythmic bobbing bodies. In worship we often instinctively outstretched our hands up to heaven. Often our tears are easier to flow than at any other time. Why is this so? I began to realize how much similar our posture, behavior and actions are to a toddler rocking, seeking attention, reaching to their daddy, crying out for help or attention.
Then this thought took me to the vision of how an orphan rocks back and forth in an isolated crib… rocking to just feel, to be heard, to wait and pass the time, reaching for anyone to pick them up.
It gave me goose bumps.
Is our worship and prayer meant to make us look like toddler’s seeking the attention of our Father? Is the reason our Jewish brothers bob and rock because they feel in the depths of their souls like they aren’t being heard?
I can’t know for sure, but I am glad I was distracted for even a moment to take the act of worship in… to see it for a second how our Father sees it… calling, crying, the child-like form we all take in it. I thank God for adding children to my life so that I might see life, myself and others through His eyes. I thank God for letting me know I can come to Him like a little child, like His most loved daughter, one He delights in being distracted by.
The practice of Jews swaying in prayer is called Schuckling, and is used to give greater intensity while praying. It is also said to increase concentration by blurring everything around the prayer book, while the prayer book stays in focus. There is verses in the Old Testament that Jews cite as to the reasoning behind how they pray.