I have started a morning practice with my kids this summer. A practice of sitting down with each child, just the two of us and taking time to meditate and greet our day with prayer.
So many mornings go by without a pause to simply soak into and embrace the gift of the day in which we get to live. So many mornings are too often the kind that feel rushed with a swift kick in the butt tumbling into the day. It’s not a healthy way to enter life, and I am working towards changing the rushed moments into a slow present space in time, when my attention is required to love my children and be loved by them, rather than rushing myself forwards.
I think that love is slow. We can love fast, but I think we can love much better slow. What do I mean? I mean that, love takes time — ( I know, I am one of those people too, that if I hear a few words that I have heard in a song, then the song ends up rolling around in my head and usually I have to belt it out… “Love…takes time, to heal when you’re hurtin so much…” — Did you hear that song too or was that just me…..) Anyhow, Love takes time. It takes time to stop and hug one another. Have you ever heard of the 20 second hug? Yes, there is some major science behind that one! A truth in taking time. Even just to hug a little bit longer!
Love takes time to listen to someone.
Love takes time to talk to someone.
Love takes time to pray with someone.
Love takes time spent with someone.
Love takes undivided attention. (No cell phones, no media, no movies – staring at screens together, which is all well and good, is not considered quality time. We love a good movie in our family, but I never count it as undivided time together, it is more of a chill out decompressive relaxation that we all do together, when we are just too tired to give any more and want to zone out).
Also, love takes kindness.
Because, being kind is thoughtful, purposeful, and often pre-meditated.
I notice that when I start the day off rushed and want the kids to just get on with their kid things so that I can get on with my Jenny things, I am quicker to be irritated with them. Quicker to snap. Quicker to want my own space, because I am quick to think about myself and quick to get into the day without a moment of pause, of soaking in the fresh awakening of life, of meditative sweetness. And we all have those things that we want to do and accomplish each day, and it is so easy to just get up and eat and just start doing.
I have been there on the reciprocating end. I have felt the difference. I can tell when a moment is being rushed. I have been part of prayer with others and the prayer was constricted into a quick slap-it-up time frame, and people are looking at their watches and waiting for end cues.
Or when you are hanging out with a friend or a group of people and some of them are looking at their phones while you talk directly to them… Hmmmm. I can feel the difference. I get it, I have done it too…but most importantly, I don’t want to be that person, that watch glancer, that distant listener, that quick to move-on-er with my very own children. Them most of all. I just don’t want it.
Summer-time has its perks, I get the luxury of fairly easy going mornings, but I am looking at it as an opportunity to practice a slow beginning before the wild blur of school hits in the fall.
So my kids and I began to take a moment of sweet connection with one another each day, or nearly each day, or at least a couple times a week. It’s called a practice. We are perfectly imperfect and we are getting to it. I am getting to it.
Nevertheless, each time we do this, the practice becomes more of a beautiful habit. My conversation starter topics will change, we are just getting started, and as all things go, things change in the way we approach them, but for now it looks a little something like this:
My son and I will sit next to one another. Or my daughter and I. We will talk about God together. With questions like, “Do you have any questions about God?” or “What do you think about God…” or “Do you think about God lately and if you do what do you think about?”
And then we will go onto topics of “how are you’s” but much deeper than the simple reply of, “good”.
The questions I try to use are intentional with the hope to pull more out of my child then generic answers. I want my kids to feel comfortable to express how they are really feeling. “How are you feeling today?” or “Is there anything that you are concerned about?” “Is there anything you want to talk about?” “Do you have any questions about anything?”
And then we talk about our hopes for the day: “What are your plans for this day?” “What are you excited about doing today?” “Are you reading any good books? Tell me about it.”
And then I end our talk with a time of slow – thoughtful – prayer. A time when I first ask them about anything they want to pray about. Usually their answer is reflective upon praying for others in need. I love that about children. So we will go ahead and begin by praying for those people or the animal or the circumstance. Then we will move onto thoughtful words of prayer for one another. I will pray for my child and then my child will pray for me.
“I am so thankful for my son – He is so beautifully made. Every part of him is perfect. He is a joy in my life. I am thankful for who he is, for his sense of humor and his creative mind… I am thankful for his smile and his laughter.” And so on. Speaking truth words about them. All positive words.
“I am so thankful for my daughter God – She is a gem. Everything about her is perfect. I pray that she feels loved by you. I pray that she feels loved by me…most of all I pray that she feels love for herself, for exactly who she is. I am thankful for her kindness and thoughtfulness, her excitement and compassion and curiosity.” And so on.
Then they will pray for me. We give and receive. We talk and we listen. My hope is that it opens a space and a doorway in which my kids can practice being still. Saying kind things to those that they love and to speak life into others, and a time to be able to open up and talk.
Then we end it with something like this… I hold my sons face in my hands. Or if I am with my daughter I hold my daughters face and I look into her eyes and say: “I see the spark of God in your eyes…”
Or I look into my son’s eyes and say, “I see the spark of God in your eyes.” With his personality, his eyes smile back at me and he sincerely replies, “Thank you” and then says, “I see the spark in your eyes too…” He looks deep into my eyes with his rich brown eyed-gaze, contemplating the spark with depth and warmth.
My daughter’s reaction, when I first told her those words was to open her eyes really big and dramatically and say back to me, “You can see the spark!!?” And then inquires with her inquisitive mind, “What do you mean? How can you see God in my eyes?” And question after question, which I am in a mind frame of listening and talking, so I am devoted to her questions wholeheartedly… she then tells me that she sees my personality in my eyes and I tell her that I see her personality in her crazy eyes.
I love the differences between my two kids. Different personalities. Different reactions to the same scenario. A different language.
Namaste, is a word that means I see the divine spark within you. I remember learning what this word meant years back after reading a book by Shane Claiborne, as he was inspired by his time spent with Mother Teresa whilst volunteering in Calcutta, India where he discovered this word. It inspired me to end my prayer time with my children by speaking about the spark of God in their eyes. Namaste is such a relevant word. We are all created in the image of God. ALL OF US. Thus within our eyes, we see the spark of the divine. I personally think it is seriously one of the most beautiful concepts in this life-lived-world.
May the peace and love of God be with you in the spaces in which you live on this day.
– Jenny Rose Foster