Kids caring about their neighbors

neighbors movingDays ago, I emptied the last cardboard moving box and heaved a weary sigh of relief as I flattened it for recycling. At least now I could see all our stuff.

Where to put it is another matter.

At this stage of my life, I’ve decided the best option for me is to let the house itself provide a boundary. My goal is to fill the spaces provided, and not to store much. Time will tell whether that goal survives or crashes on a heap of good intentions.

I have five old bookcases and one 3-drawer dresser lining the walls of the garage where I put plastic containers of holiday decorations, out-of-season clothes, tools, that sort of thing. A shelf overhanging the hood of the car gives a place for bulky items like a tent and sleeping bags.

In the midst of all this settling in, neighbors and friends lend their helping hands.

neighborsneighbors girlsOn Sunday afternoon, the two girls who live next door came over with plates of homemade pastries and Welcome messages. Other neighbors gifted us with food or plants, and conversations started which will be continued.

The fifth-grade girl two houses down from us has a Lemonade Stand on the front lawn where she’s collecting money for a food pantry here in town.  Here’s an idea about kids and hospitality.

Hospitality is a character trait.

And character is what we are at our core. “There is an inner self that forms the root of the outer self,” wrote Lewis Smedes.”The inner self is probably heart and mind. About how we intend to shape our behavior. About the tilt of our wills. How we are disposed to live. Maybe deeper things than this too, but at least this.”

An important part of children’s spiritual formation is about growing in character. More than that, of course, but for children, especially that.

Tweetable:  Are people moving into your building or onto your block? Involve the kids as you welcome the newcomers. Some ideas here can inspire you. Click to Tweet



Rediscovering the sacred, for kids’ sake!

Mr. Rogers treated children and their inner lives as sacred. Sacred is defined as connected with God; holy; blessed.

sacred and spiritual life“Talking to children about God is a key component of their sense of self,” says Rabbi David Wolpe. “Children are taught that they are important, but why are they important?” He continues, “Ask children why they matter. I have asked thousands of children, ‘Why are you important?’ The usual answers are, ‘I get good grades; I am good at sports; I have a job; my parents love me.’

“All these answers spell trouble, because they are all based on something human, and everything human can change. Are we always going to be the brightest in the class, or have that job or feel our parents’ love? Do you really want your child’s self-esteem to be based on your emotional constitution? Is there no varying basis for self-worth?”

Made in God’s image

“The Bible says that God created human beings in the divine image. What if we could say to a child: ‘All your qualities are wonderful, but beyond all that, you matter because you are in the image of God?’ God loves you and that love never changes.

A strong sense of self

When we do that, not only have we given children a constant basis of self-esteem, but a noncomparative basis. Teaching children about God is a way of giving a firm footing to their spiritual life.” *

As adults we can learn how to look for the sacred—the image of God—in everyday life. And then we can show the children we love how to look for the sacred in their daily lives. Imagine the impact it would make on our neighborhoods.

*Rabbi David Wolpe’s words are taken from My Jewish Learning.

Tweetable: Finding the sacred moments in everyday living is more valuable than power or money because these moments connect us to God who loves us unconditionally and this is good news to kids. Click to Tweet