Yup, you read that correctly, flushed and out of breath from praying. This is not something that I've seen very often among North American Mennonites, but I saw it this past Sunday and it was beautiful.
I was with a wonderful group of young children and together we offered our prayers of thanksgiving to God in one big chaotic, messy, blessed clamor. We began by breathing slowly and thinking about all the things that made us glad, all the things we were thankful for, and putting them one at a time in a large bag in our imagination. When the bag was stuffed full, we stood up, raised our arms to the sky and flung all our thankfulness up and out!
We were standing in a circle, and I had invited the children to simply call out everything they were thankful for, everything that they had tucked in their bag, all at the same time. There was no taking turns, waiting and listening, or praying silently. And perhaps because no one could hear what anyone else was saying, or perhaps because we were turned away from one another facing all the "corners" of the earth, or perhaps because they were caught by the Spirit, the words just tumbled on and on in a glorious cacophony of praise.
And when the prayers started to trickle out and each one began to turn back into the circle, I saw open-mouthed smiles, flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes. It was breathtaking.