At St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School, we have always fostered spirituality in our students, giving them opportunities and the tools to explore faith and the myriad of life questions that are raised as our students develop and grow. This philosophy has endured for 125 years since the school’s founders, the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Advent, based their educational philosophy on religious principles and sought to educate “the whole personality, physical, mental and spiritual that the girls may live to their fullest capacity”.
In schools, and even at home, prayer spaces are one opportunity provided to students that enables them to explore spirituality and faith in a creative and interactive way.
According to St Margaret’s Chaplain The Reverend Susan Crothers-Robertson prayer is about slowing down, centring the self and knowing there is something much more significant than ourselves.
“With the many distractions and demands made on students, making a Prayer Space accessible to them has the potential to help the students with these daily demands. It is a place where they can draw breath and connect in a safe non-threatening way,” she said.
In late July, both primary and secondary students were invited to participate in our Prayer Space-Dadirri during morning tea and lunch breaks, which were setup outside due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Two engaging stations were established, Peg a Prayer in Toorak Gardens and Bubble Prayers in the Barley Sugar Garden, and were managed by Year 8 students, the sacristans and Duke of Edinburgh students.
The Peg a Prayer space encouraged students to write a prayer or their thoughts for themselves, the community, the world or anything that was on their minds.
Wandering through the avenue of prayers pegged onto the Star Jasmine creeping along the Toorak Gardens arbour, it was clear that the COVID-19 pandemic weighed heavily on students’ minds.
Despite their own concerns, the prayers also revealed the students were thinking of others.
“Walking through the avenue of prayers it felt like the school community was praying and thinking about not only themselves but also our nation and the rest of the globe,” Rev’d Susan said.
Here are just some of the prayers shared by the students.
Today I pray for….
“the people in Victoria”
“Corona not coming to school”
“essential workers during COVID”
“the safety of others”
“a Corona free life”
“those who have suffered”
“COVID-19 pandemic workers”
“my family, and COVID-19 to go away and never come back”
“all the people and their families affected by COVID-19 in the aged care facilities in Melbourne”
“this pandemic to end and for everything to go back to normal”
“Coronavirus to stop and everything to be normal”
“for COVID-19 to go away TOMORROW”
“for all the essential workers during this pandemic”
“my family to be safe and less stressed”
“for everyone to stay safe”
“everyone to be healthy and for everyone to be happy even during these times”
The Bubble Prayer space was an opportunity for students to let go of their worries inspired by 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your worries onto God because God cares for you.” Students were encouraged to think about something they were worried about and invited to ‘blow their problems away’ as they blew a stream of bubbles into the air.
“One of the primary students commented that she was actually popping her worries away as she popped the bubbles,” Rev’d Susan said.
While the students engaged equally with both stations, the Bubble Prayer space was a firm favourite, revealing you are never too old to blow bubbles.
“Students from Pre-Prep to Year 12 enjoyed taking the time to blow their worries away,” said Rev’d Susan.
It is clear our most recent Prayer Spaces provided an ideal platform for students to express and explore their feelings, concerns and wonders as well as consider others during what has been an extraordinary year for everyone around the world.