Okay, tell me if I'm overreacting.
As Evangeline was winding down at bedtime tonight, we talked a little about her experiences at the charter school, where she started first grade two weeks ago. Since I homeschooled her last year, I'm understandably interested in how things are going and how they're ranking her academic abilities. (For the record, she'll be doing second-grade level math and something similar for reading and writing, I think. Her art skills are also way above grade level.) Tonight she told me they've been doing some sort meditation exercise.
Now I realize that meditation is a biblical concept, but I can't help it. As soon as I hear a word like "meditation" coming from the mouth of my 5-year-old, the slumbering Pentecostal within me begins to stir uneasily. I can't help it. Whether it's from reading Frank Peretti novels when I was 19, indoctrination against ideas perceived as ungodly when I was in the Assemblies of God, or legitimate concern over occultic concepts, it lights the first step on the path to what could become a full-fledged wigout.
Here's the exercise as Evangeline described it to me: The children lie down on the floor and look up at the ceiling, and then close their eyes. As their teacher reads a story, the children are supposed to imagine their own special star, which comes down into them and fills their whole bodies. Then their guardian angel takes them to their own special garden, where there's a worry tree that they can leave all their worries on.
Is this harmless imagination stuff or am I right in thinking it's a little creepy?
The good stuff I see: It helps the kids relax, it encourages their imagination (Evangeline explained her own star is speckled), and it may even give them coping skills for when life seems kind of rough.
The bad stuff: This whole idea of a star filling their bodies, and a special guardian angel just seems uncomfortably occulty to me.
I didn't want to let on to Evangeline , since she was about to go to sleep, that her father was having a Pentecostal anxiety moment, so I did what I once did with Easter eggs and jack-o'-lanterns. I reinterpreted everything as christocentrically as I could on the spot. That worry tree? It's the Cross, where Jesus died. He tells us to take all our worries to him and leave them there. The Garden? This was a stretch, probably, but I reminded her that when Jesus died, he reopened the way back to Paradise, the Garden of Eden, and that when we get there, it will be beyond our imaginings.
The star I just said was her imagination (weak), which is always a good thing to use, and that she should feel free to use her imagination with everything she's got. And while Evangeline understood the idea that God does ask angels -- or, "people with wings," as she put it -- to protect us, she said that she knows Jesus is watching over her too.
So I encouraged her to use these meditation times to pray to Jesus, and talk with him about anything that's bothering her, but man, this definitely gave me a case of the spiritual willies.
So what's the vote: Am I overreacting to this, or should I ask the teacher about this on Monday? And if I do, what do I say? "So what's with this weird channeling stuff you're teaching my kid? I want her out of this exercise for religious reasons!" That'd be just brilliant.
Natasha, whose feathers generally get ruffled less obviously than mine over such things, also thought this was a weird classroom exercise, and felt that it would get uneasy reactions from other parents too, regardless of their religious background.
And of course, the added irony to all this is that if it wasn't "spiritual warfare," it probably is going to be on Monday. Evangeline thought my explanation of the worry tree was really neat, and said she wants to tell her classmates all about it when she sees them again.
So, one way or another, I've managed to become a trouble maker already, and we're not even at the end of September.