Teach kids a spiritual vocabulary

After five years of interviewing adults about their childhood spiritual experiences, I’ve seen common threads. Here’s one: As children, they didn’t have the vocabulary to express how they were processing spirituality and God. Can’t you see it in what this man told me?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“I remember I was four or five years old and feeding white ducks bread crumbs from the top of a playground slide. It seemed very wonderful to me for some reason and I dreamed about it and I can still see myself doing it. My thoughts couldn’t have been very abstract or sophisticated or articulated in any vocabulary I had at the time, but I felt I was in the presence of something greater than myself, in a world beyond the surface world where I was tossing down food onto the white ducks and feeling very whole, free, peaceful.”

Harvest time: of kids and carrots and character

seeds in handIn early Spring, when we tore open seed packets of carrots and pumpkins, the golden days of harvest  were far away. I like what Ann Voskamp says, “The seeds, they fall into my hand small, jewels. But to look at seeds and believe they will feed us? When…it doesn’t look like near enough. When it looks like less than a handful instead of a plateful, a year full, a life full. When it looks inedible.  These seeds, they are food? It looks like a bit of a joke. To hand someone seeds…and ask him to believe in a feast?”

Being mindful of the future feast in a child’s life

When kids are what we seed, it can help to take time from life’s busyness to recapture what our hopes and dreams are for their spiritual life. Here’s a visualization exercise:

To kids you mirror a higher power: scary or exciting?

Like it or not, a child’s caregivers mirror God’s character in the child’s eyes. No doubt you’ve been part of conversations like this:

My 3-year-old  asked me something–I’ve forgotten the exact question–but it was something I didn’t know the answer to. So I told him, ‘Hunter, I don’t know the answer to that question.’

As if he hadn’t heard me, he asked the same question again. Again I said, ‘I told you already; Daddy doesn’t know the answer to that question.’

‘Yes you do, Daddy,’ he said with confidence, ‘you know everything! Now tell me the answer!’

Obviously it sorts itself out  and children grow to grasp the reality that my parents are only human.