What is this spirituality we should be nurturing in children and ourselves?
It is important to take a moment here to precisely define “spirituality” as I use it in this book, and as it exists as a crucial dimension of spirituality in science:
Spirituality is an inner sense of relationship to a higher power that is loving and guiding. The word we give to this higher power might be God, nature, spirit, the universe, the creator, or other words that represent a divine presence. But the important point is that spirituality encompasses our relationship and dialogue with this higher presence.
Spiritual development, as I define it as a scientist and use the term in this book, is the growth and progression of our inborn spirituality as one of our many perceptual and intellectual faculties, from taste and touch to critical thinking skills. Spiritual development is the changing expression of this natural asset over time as new words, explanatory models, and ideas—whether theological, scientific, or family views—allow us to feel (or not feel) part of something larger, and experience an interactive two-way relationship with a guiding, and ultimately loving, universe.
Miller, Dr. Lisa. The Spiritual Child (p. 25). St. Martin's Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
The first step as parents in nurturing the natural spiritual abilities of our children is to have a vocabulary: names for things. One of the most important things a good parent does with their children is say to them, especially when they are upset, “Use your words!”
When it comes to spiritual thoughts, feelings, motivations, and preferences, what are the words we use? Sometimes they come from religions, or poetry, or stories, or movies, or experiences in the natural world and the artistic world.
The best words are the words the parent feels most comfortable with. What are the spiritual learnings that you grew up with that have personal meaning for you? Can you share these with your child and see if they resonate? Sometimes children have their own words and insights.
As I was loading our wood burning stove my four year old daughter was watching, fascinated, and she said to me, “Daddy, the wood is the life of the fire.” I was astounded at this statement and all I could think of to say at the time which still seems inadequate is “Yes, honey, it is.” I wish I had said some further wise things like, “Isn’t it wonderful how the wood changes and keeps us warm.” or “The death of the wood changes its life into something wonderful for our benefit.”
There are moments like these that come up all the time all through our days. Do we see God in them and comment on it to our children? What are the words we use or can use? It takes a search, a bit of an effort to come up with a vocabulary to express our own thoughts and feelings, let alone words that are understandable to a child. It is well worth the effort though as we the parents, and they the children, both grow and are spiritually nourished from our efforts and activities.
What are the words for spiritual thoughts and feelings from your childhood?
What are the words you use currently with your children and grandchildren?
How have these discussions been empowering or disappointing?
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