I took care of the next generation of our family last week. My niece and nephew aged three and seven and my granddaughter who just turned one. It was a true adventure. The early summer days brought us a rushing creek with crayfish, deep sucking mud to squish in our toes, wildflowers to pick and fireflies to chase. With my granddaughter, the simple act of walking barefoot on the grass and stopping to inspect the tiniest of blossoms was delight enough. For the children, this was merely play, something they do everyday, for me it was a deep reminder of what it’s like to live totally in the moment and to be in wonder at what surrounds me. It reminded me of what is entirely within my reach each day, if I just extend my fingers.
One of my favorite websites, Spirituality and Practice, recently wrote about the history of children and spirituality. It proposes that we often don’t encourage or engage children in a spiritual life and that there is a rich tradition in many sects for cultivating this resource.
The ancient Greeks initiated certain special children into the secrets of the Eleusinian mysteries. The Albigenses, a Christian sect in France during the 12th and 13th centuries, regularly queried children about their visions. During the past two centuries, the Catholic church has charted the experiences of youth who have reported visions of the Virgin Mary. The Native American leader Black Elk had a vision when he was nine years old. He later noted: ”Grown men may learn from very little children for the hearts of little children are pure, and, therefore, the Great Spirit may show them many things which older people miss.”
This site also offers e-learning on many spiritual topics and has one starting July 9th on Children and Spirituality-the cost is very reasonable at $19.95 a course and the learning techniques are engaging while the technology is easy to navigate. I am planning to take this course and will let you all know how it was.
My experience last week with my delightful munchkins reminds me of just how much we fill our children’s lives with things to do. We schedule them so tight with sports teams and learning experiences, we forget to give them time to squish mud between their toes. As parents and grandparents we want more than anything to give them good opportunities to grow, lets not forget to let them grow spiritually as well.