People say that children are like sponges; they absorb values, attitudes, culture and spirituality simply through osmosis. It is not simply a question of parent’s actions speaking louder than their words; it goes deeper than that . Both my husband and I were often unaware of the deep spirituality that flowed from our children to us as well as from us as parents to our offspring.
For example, I was rocking newborn Mara, one afternoon, while eighteen month -old Melissa sat on her Dad’s knee, slowly waking up from a long nap. The topic of discussion for the last hour had been, ”How on earth can we manage to get to church as a family with three little ones, all on different schedules?” Every choice of service or church had some complication or difficulty that seemed insurmountable. It seemed an impossible situation and I resigned myself to simply staying at home on Sundays for the time being.
Suddenly, we were both startled as a flushed and distraught three-year old Matthew came running into the kitchen.
He was still groggy from his nap but was able to yell in very loud voice, “Jesus says come, Jesus says come!!!
We were both stunned into silence. The deep discussion was over.
This episode really seems to be a mystery at first glance but perhaps but this was a simple demonstration of the power of God living in us as we lived, moved, breathed and had our very being in Him. He took charge of our dilemma by using the most open, articulate member of our family, a three-year old. Most of the time, though, God works on our behalf without any awareness on our part because we are oblivious to spiritual reality. It is probably better that way because we tend to get in His way.
One day at mass I distinctly heard the inner voice of God speaking to me. I thought the words were for the church in general; it took years for me to realize that they were aimed directly at ME.
” You think that you are building my church with all your business, but you are hindering my Spirit and my plans. All I need, all I want, is for you to stand before the Cross and allow the fire of my Son’s love to pierce your heart, mind, soul and spirit. Then, He can transform you and the fire of His love will pour out from your entire being , transforming the world. around you.”
Of course, twenty years later and years of inner work and healing I am just beginning to allow His love to sink in deeply. I always feel that I am just a beginner.
I was aware of my egocentric position and I wanted to shout, “No, it’s just tea and me!” Meaning that ,in my opinion, it was caffeine and self drive that kept me going.
Out of the blue, as I was rocking my newborn I heard crystal clear,”You don’t have a clue how much grace you have.”
I used to try so hard to be a good Christian parent but as I give up my earnest striving, let go of control and allowed God to save me through His presence in my children, I experience His mercy and JOY.
My three or four oldest children bore the brunt of my earnest mission to raise my children in the faith. I over explained everything. For example, as Matthew was preparing for first communion, I outlined the kinds of prayer to him -petition, thanksgiving, adoration, praise… In frustration this seven-year old sighed, slumped his shoulders and stated, “Mum, I do all that; I just don’t use all those words.”