13/12 From a Child’s Faith to an Adult’s – I

There is more to the night than bad dreams. As a child Dylan Thomas made stories in the ‘warm, safe island’ of his midnight bed.[1]

At day’s end in A Child’s Christmas in Wales Dylangot into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.’[2] This childhood feeling of closeness to God when tucked up in bed – Dylan does not name the holy presence – surfaced in 21st Century interviews by Catherine Stonehouse, who comments that children ‘experience the presence of God and find comfort in that sense of nearness’.[3] She argues that children do theology when they think through their experiences of God, but follows John Wesley in pointing out that for these experiences to lead to an adult faith people must have available, at the right time, the ‘words, ritual and doctrine’ to allow the rational mind to receive God’s grace.[4]

So how do we adults admit this Lord into our hearts and minds? David Powell has written of the old lady who felt the need of a special vocabulary to be able to pray (see post Plain Speaking, 17th November 2015); a personal approach to words and ritual, if not to doctrine.


It is he who gives bread to the hungry. FISC dining room by CD.

Perhaps a healthy place to lead off from would be to say, even if under the breath, a short grace before every meal. We have everything to be grateful for; acknowledging the fact, three times a day that ‘It is he who gives bread to the hungry’ (Psalm 145:7) will speak to the rational mind as well as the heart, and lead to a continuing conversion.


[1]  Dylan Thomas, ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog’, London, Dent, 1974; p8.

[2] Dylan Thomas: ‘A Child’s Christmas’, London, Orion, 1993, pages not numbered.

[3]Catherine Stonehouse: ‘Child Theology Matters: Offering Guidance for Practices of Christian Nurture’ in Dharma Deepika, July – Decmber, 2008, pp 18–32; p21-2.

[4]Stonehouse: ‘Child Theology’ p25.


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