The Facilitator, the Judge and the Three-Year Old


by Cissy Eyre
Milford, Ohio

“I said, and said, and said those words. I said them but I lied them.”
~Dr. Seuss

I’m sitting snug on the couch early this February morning. As I enjoy my coffee and quiet time, I suddenly remember I am scheduled as the facilitator for an online Centering Prayer group in a couple of hours.

Fear jettisons through my body as I consider everything I need to do in order to be ready. The judge takes over my brain demanding that I do every last thing the “right” way—instrumental music playing ahead of time, a wonderful poem to put everyone in the best possible frame of mind, offering a soothing voice with just the right words to help people center themselves … don’t forget to light the candle, to invite new people to introduce themselves, to make sure the timer goes for exactly 25 minutes, and on and on the list grows.

I find my body which only moments before had been relaxed and calm is now feeling constricted and anxious.

“Get it together, and let’s get moving” the judge roars.

“But I’m a little nervous,” I squeak, “the other two facilitators always seem so centered but I’m feeling rather jumbled and off-kilter.”

The judge has heard this all before, and so she gives the standard reply, “Fake it til you make it, sister.” Just as I’m ready to jump off the couch and onto the bandwagon, I hear another voice pipe up.

“Are you kidding me?” It’s my 3-year old inner child and she’s not happy to have this lovely morning interrupted. “Fake it til you make it?” She speaks truth to this bullshit and reminds me that this shiny, upbeat saying has absolutely no weight. This 3-year old part of me refuses to budge off the couch. Pulling my face between her small but surprisingly strong hands, she says, “Listen to me—stop trying to push through this. If you work with me, we can do this together and it will be so much more fun—BUT just try to drag me along to follow that judge, and I am going to make your facilitation anything but calm. I will be lurking in the shadows and sticking out my tongue and stamping my foot at you the entire time you try to fake your way through whatever it is you think you need to somehow perform perfectly.”

This 3-year old tantrum prone part of me gives me pause as I realize just how honest and fresh and wise she is. This part of me is all about joy and wonder and snuggling on the couch as we go through life leaning into one another and enjoying the process of trying new things.

The judge stands at the doorway tapping her foot looking at us both in a most disapproving way.

I ask the 3-year old to say more. She proceeds, “Let’s take these two hours and together read some poems for fun. Let’s listen to music and let’s say I get to choose the song I like best. Let’s say I sit next to you and get to listen to you and do the body centering part while you speak. And what say if you somehow mess up your words, that I will stand on my head and make a silly face to remind you that life is meant to be an adventure and full of fun?”

“Deal,” I say.

We invite the judge to sit with us on the couch, and while I go upstairs to get ready, I see that her hair is down and the 3-year old is decorating it with ribbons and barrettes. The judge is completely out of her element looking up at me helplessly.

“It’s okay. Just fake it til you make it,” I encourage her.