By Dee Copeland (rscjdee@ gmail.com)
I begin with a brief introduction. My name is Dolores (Dee) Copeland. I’m a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart – an international religious congregation with the Central Government located in Rome, Italy. Now, in the later years of my life, I continue my life’s daily routine teaching and working with children. Fortunately and gratefully this work and vocation have been an experience in joyful delight. I first grew to know the Religious of the Sacred Heart at the age of eight and since those early formative years, I have been part of the Sacred Heart Network of Schools. In my early years of religious life I taught in Network Schools between Boston and Washington, D.C. I spent most of my middle years of adult life teaching in Miami, Florida and learning to appreciate the large Cuban culture in that area. And now in my later years I continue teaching in northern California in the greater San Francisco Bay area. Most of my teaching has been in language arts, history, geography and religious formation areas in the elementary schools – ages eight to fourteen years.
My life has given me gifts. If I were asked to state, at this time in my life, my three greatest gifts, I would answer: 1) the gift of my life, 2) the gift of my vocation as a Religious of the Sacred Heart and 3) the gift of knowing Christian Meditation. I learned of Christian Meditation about ten or twelve years ago as I was ‘searching in the field for a pearl of great price’. This was not my first search in that field, but this time I was graced with the gift of finding it. I remember the day, the moment, the place and the knowing that I had found what I went in search of. It was a moment of joy, excitement, peace and a simple feeling of well-being. I knew I would have much to learn, but at that moment I was not aware of the extent of the journey. But that was and continues to be okay. As I continue on this journey, patience greets me each morning. I’m learning – but slowly. But I am learning be it ever so simple. I realize this is gift.
Finding, knowing and learning of Christian Meditation has given me a great and almost impelling desire to teach and introduce this gift to others. I have been fortunate to work and spend each day in the midst of children. How could I begin to introduce these children to Meditation? For sometime I was ‘shy’ and felt ‘inadequate’ to take on this work. As I continued my own daily meditation journey, ‘nudges’ in this area were clear. I approached the school leadership, and I was encouraged to start on a ‘small scale’. I did. I was surprised that my desire to communicate the gift of Meditation was so clear to me, but when the actual moment came I felt inadequate, maybe some fear (suppose they don’t accept it) and so on… With God’s gracious grace, I began. Little by little the children responded (at times to my amazement), looked forward to their Meditation time, asked for it and children from additional grades wanted to be included.
Presently over the course of a week, I have the gift and opportunity to meditate with about 330 children from age four to fourteen. Their favorite time to meditate is after a recess period. That is not possible for every class group, but for many. The four year olds are amazingly simple and sincere as are the growing, energetic fourteen-year-old boys, and everyone in between. I have been teaching Christian Meditation to children for about six years. Never in my wildest dreams ten or twenty years ago could I have imagined I would be doing this. God’s ways are truly beyond our imagination! Many children tell me they meditate at home, and they like to meditate. Some have created ‘meditation spaces’, ‘sacred spaces’, ‘special spaces, ‘quiet spaces’ in their homes. Parents tell me how much they appreciate that their children are learning to meditate. A fifth grade boy told me last week that before he begins his homework each afternoon, he sits quietly and meditates for a few minutes. He said it helps him to work on his lessons with more care and a better attitude.
Meditation teaches me daily in small and insignificant ways. Being attentive, aware and responsive to God does diminish fear. My daily practice of meditation helps me to grow in attentiveness and awareness of God’s presence. My fear of leading meditation sessions disappeared once I responded to God’s ‘nudge’ to begin. Sometimes the NIKE advertisement comes to my mind ‘Just do it’. I’m beginning to experience a new ‘nudge’. How to – when – to begin to teach meditation to the parents of the children I work with each day. This will be a new adventure. Perhaps the new academic year will see a small beginning in this arena?
- Place: USA
- Date: May 2016