A few lovely mamas recently asked me how I share spiritual matters with my children and what religion I am. They have seen me sharing many different things (some with Christian influence, some with Pagan influence and some with Buddhist influence) with my children and were curious. I don't have a religion and did not grow up with one. We do however celebrate the Divine (God, Spirit, whatever word feels comfortable to you) every day, throughout the day, and it is something that is really important to me.
When I finally discovered (as my own truth) that there is more than the physical realm, around the age of 24, I remember feeling so relieved and thinking, well of course, I knew that. And I did know that, it's just I forgot/ignored it for years because all those around me, at home and at school, seemed to ignore it. I don't want my children to ever doubt the existence of the Divine. It underlies everything, it is everything and I believe within every healthy home, there is an openness to and appreciation of it. So how do we go about celebrating and sharing the Divine with children?
If you have a religious background, you will probably already have many great ideas on how to approach this. This post is more aimed at those mamas that may not have that background or those looking for new ideas.
With young children, I never speak directly about things as such, but choose to openly enjoy and celebrate the Divine. Young children don't need to think about the Divine, they need to feel it, be it, sing it, celebrate it. If my children are anything to go by, this brings them great joy and comfort.
Here are a some of the ways we like to connect each day:
Every morning we say a prayer, I saw a family prayer by Melissa Nielsen at Waldorf Essentials and changed it to suit our family. It's a nice way to connect with each other and remind ourselves of what is important to us as a family unit.
In our family, we are kind to each other
We forgive and let go
We take care of one another
In our family, we are truthful and grateful
We are playful and respectful
But most importantly, we love each other deeply.
Plus one other beautiful prayer I learned many years ago (it is not mine, I cannot recall who wrote it)
I ask and pray to be clothed in a robe of light
Composed of the love, wisdom and power of God
Not only for my own complete protection
But so that all those who see it and come into contact with it
Be drawn to God and healed.
We say these two prayers every morning and then have one or two more that change with seasons/festivals/situations.
With all of our meals, we light a candle and give thanks.
We celebrate various festivals through the year (some are those celebrated by Pagans, some by Christians, we also like to celebrate a few other special festivals, i.e. WESAK). In addition we follow the phases of the moon, in particular the new and full moons.
I have my own spiritual practice which includes daily meditation and prayer. I follow a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly rhythm that is in tune with what happens with the Earth in relation to the cosmos (ie. in winter the Earth contracts, withdraws and go within, and I do too along with the rest of nature in this part of the world). Without saying a word about this to my children they will be aware of this process within me on a subtle level and it will nourish them.
We have a nature table and various special corners in the house to honour the Earth, nature, the cosmos and the Divine. These special areas change as we move through the year and demonstrate symbolically where we are as humans in relation to the cosmos.
We express awe throughout our day as appropriate (if we see an interesting insect or cloud for example)
We treat our home, each other (mostly!) and all our things with respect, we take care of things and appreciate them. It amazes me how much the children copy my behaviour, if I act with care, respect and reverence, they do too)
We openly acknowledge our spiritual selves at it comes up naturally (i.e. birthdays are a time when we acknowledge the child as a spiritual being who came to Earth, and when someone dies we acknowledge that it is only their physical body that has died, their spirit begins their journey home)
We have a special reverence for many beings including Mother Mary, Jesus of Nazareth, Buddha, Brigit, Ceridwen, Mother Earth, the Christ.
We have always acknowledged our angels. At bedtime I playfully encourage my children to go and see their angels in dream world. They have seen me turn to my own angel (or theirs) when I have been worried about something. They have seen amazing things happen as a result. They take comfort in the angels if they feel frightened. To know they are never alone, are loved completely no matter what they do, and always have help when they ask for it, is probably one of the most valuable things I have taught them.
We say prayers at bedtime, two simple prayers, the same ones every night. One of them I made up;
Bless my head, my toes, my knees
Bless the rivers, the mountains and the trees
Bless the moon, the stars, the sun
Bless you, bless me, bless everyone
The other prayer is an old traditional prayer I adapted to suit us.
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray to God my soul to keep
Please wrap me in your love all night
And wake me with the morning light
We finish off by singing a gentle song, usually the same one for many months.
I always try to remember that young children can teach me so much about spirit and the Divine. I have been incarnated in my current physical body longer than they have theirs, they have not had as long a time to become hardened or to collect 'baggage' that can interfere with our connection to the Divine.
The most effective way to share the Divine with my children is by giving and receiving as much love as I possibly can. Thankfully with my children that seems to happen effortlessly most of the time, and when it doesn't it gives me material for own my inner work (as if I needed more, lol!).
Many blessings, Carole