The S’s were: Swaddle, Side or Stomach Position, Shush, Swing, and Suck. I’d recommend looking into this for anyone with newborn children. For us, what worked best was the Shushing, which consisted of simply making a shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh sound close to the baby’s ears. The sound was meant to simulate the noise that the baby had been used to in the womb. It also served to block out other distractions, and with that comforting familiarity and other sources of stimulation blocked out, the child was soon comforted and calmed down.
It's kind of funny but this shushing almost seems to be instinctual and something we carry with us into our later life. Shushing is an almost universal lingual trait. Even in cultures with languages that don’t have a “sh” sound, people will shush each other as a means of asking for quiet or as a means of getting another to calm down.
With this prayer, we’re going to bring this concept of shushing into prayer. The script will lead you through a short meditation with some pauses in it. In those pauses, you are invited to let things that might distract you from worship bubble up within you. As your distractions come to you, you’re then invited to shush them. This is not meant to be one big congregational response of shhhh it’s individual for as many or as few times as you wish or need.
Here’s the thing though, as you shush whatever is coming up inside of you, the idea is not to be self-chastising about it. This is not about mastery of our minds and bodies, it’s about recognition of what is keeping us from God. We can shush in lots of different ways, and one of those ways is an impatient, irritated, harsh kind of shush. I will admit I’ve been guilty more than once of using this tone as a means of cutting people off mid-sentence. At those times the shush is a quick quip that demands compliance rather than gently asking for calmness. That is not how we are desiring to treat ourselves in this prayer nor is it how we are wanting to treat each other as we will hear each other’s shushing. The idea here, going back to the idea of shushing a child, is to calm and gently lay down those thoughts that are clamoring for your attention in this moment.
Let us begin:
Find a comfortable way to sit and find a comfortable way to hold your hands. Maybe lay them in your lap or let them rest on your thighs. If it helps, feel free to close your eyes. As you sit there, breathe in and out in a relaxed way neither inhaling too deeply nor forcing your breath out too far.
Allow a few moments of breathing. Then continue...
We come here from many places and circumstances this morning. Each of us in some way overcame obstacles to be here. Some of these obstacles may still be calling our attention. Sit for a few moments and let any struggles that you have experienced so far today rise to the surface of your thoughts. Maybe you had car trouble. Maybe your body was not cooperating as it once did. Perhaps you had an argument or other difficulty with a family member. Whatever struggles you have had, whatever obstacles you have encountered, let them rise up within you, acknowledge them and how they are keeping you from worship, let them know you will attend to them later and then lay them down to rest with a gentle, Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Give time for the shushing to die down.
We gather here with many things left to do in our days. Those things ask us to leave this time of worship. Sit for a few moments and let your to do list rise to the surface of your thoughts. What chores are calling to you? What homework assignment have you not yet completed? What things must you get done before the end of this day in order for tomorrow to begin well? Whatever you have left to do that is calling you away from here, let it rise up within you, acknowledge it, let it know that you will attend to it later, and then lay it down to rest with a gentle, Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Give time for the shushing to die down.
We gather here this morning each with things on our hearts and minds too numerous to name. People that we are worried about. Fears and doubts that plague us. Worries over circumstances and situations in the world that we have little to no control over. Take a few moments and let whatever is keeping you from God, whatever is calling your attention elsewhere rise to the surface of your thoughts. As it does, acknowledge it, let it know you will attend to it later, and then lay it down to rest with a gentle, Shhhhhhhhhhh.
Give time to the shushing to die down.
Lord God, throughout this worship service, continue to shush and comfort us as we need it. Fill us with your Spirit. Help us to overcome or accept those things with which we struggle. Order our days to your glory. And hear all of our worry and fear and doubt for what it is, prayers to you for help.
Patrick Sipes is the founder and director of The Forming Spirit. You can learn more about him here.