In my quest to raise a spiritual child I decided to introduce gratitude to Jocelyn tonight at bedtime. After giving thanks for the important things, the not so important things and then getting to things like the couches, door and washing basket, I realised that all I have actually done is introduce to her an amazing new delaying tactic to add to her already impressive bag of tricks – which includes the usual “I am still hungry”, as well as “look what I can do with my legs” (various contortions including headstands against the wall) and how many different ways she can give me a kiss (this bedtime she added the new ‘pinkie finger kiss’)!
I recently made the decision to increase Jocelyn’s spiritual awareness after a funny incident that happened. She told me they were saying grace at school before they ate their lunch. I was interested to hear this and asked her who she was praying to when she said grace. She looked at me with pity for being so silly and told me “Hawk and Odette” (the teacher and teacher’s assistant)!
However, I have been very unsure how to go about this spiritual quest. I know I want my children to be spiritual but I myself am no longer religious. Yet I think that to create an awareness of spirituality one needs to be introduced to religion. I don’t believe I would be as spiritually aware without the foundation of my Catholic upbringing. I thus recently started taking Jocelyn to Sunday School which means that I once again find myself in a church where I don’t necessarily believe I need to be in order to fully appreciate spirituality. I experience spirituality through mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation; being outdoors; my work with the incredible strength, honesty and vulnerability of my clients; the miracle of witnessing my children developing daily; and acts of kindness and care from pure strangers.
I have therefore realised that a lot of what my children will learn from spirituality will hopefully be gained through modelling me and hearing what I say (and don’t say). Jocelyn already attends yoga classes because she has seen that I go to yoga (and attended yoga with me in utero and as a tiny babe!) and thus has an affinity for it. There she is already learning about mindfulness in simple ways. She hears me talking about gratitude and responsibility for others and our planet. We share many moments in nature being amazed by creation and listening to the wind in the leaves, feeling the sun warm our skin and smelling the sweet scent of flowers. Jocelyn sees me doing reiki and BodyTalk which involves working with energy and the principle that we are all connected energetically and essentially are all one.
So, perhaps I am getting too caught up in intellectualising spirituality and need to be assured that my life encompasses spirituality and that my children will learn from this and take it on, should they wish to.
That said, little children are innately spiritual and very curious and I know that those big questions about “who made this?” and”how did that happen?”are all going to start very soon. All I know is that when I answer those big questions I would like to share the concept of there being something bigger than ourselves and that we are all connected by that thing that is bigger than us. In addition, I believe that that something that is bigger than us and which connects us is also within each of us. Now, how the heck am I going to explain that?!
So, for now, I am going to stick with Sunday School and religion to provide some of those answers and hope that my children will not be limited by that as they learn to generalise their spirituality from there and include what I model and share and believe – perhaps owning it for themselves or perhaps tossing it aside if it doesn’t fit quite right. I also suspect, and hope, they will search in their own ways too and, one day, hopefully find a version of spirituality that works for them but something that they can hold on to in times of difficulty and confusion and something that can help them to have a sense of who they are in this world we live in.
Right now I am happy to share my daughter’s version of spirituality that includes gratitude for washing baskets, couches, and pinkie finger kisses, and the joy that children have in each day that makes them never want to go to sleep.