The holy-days are a special time for children (and adults), in part because of the promise of toys, but also in part because of the rituals we participate in at this time of year—special decorations, magical lighting, seasonal music, social gatherings, the sending—and receiving—of cards filled with sweet sentiments and progress reports to loved ones. There is a special honoring of relationships that happens at this time of year—with each other and with God/Spirit/the Sacred, no matter what your religion—or even your lack of it.
But once the holidays are over, the lights are taken down, the candles and décor are put away, there is no need to put the sacred away for another year.
Children (and adults) crave a sense of the sacred and the ability to express that aspect of themselves. Children are closer to their true nature than adults because they have lived through fewer experiences that might block the flow of love and authenticity. You can nurture your children’s spirituality by fostering their understanding that any time they want to connect with Source or with God, they simply need to get silent and listen to their inner voice of wisdom. Your children will undoubtedly be able to nurture your spiritual lives by sharing with you what they hear. Children are much less hesitant or doubtful about what they hear God saying.
Spiritual rituals help to put a form to something that is often intangible. Help your children develop a daily ritual that honors their bodies, minds, spirits—and their capacity to love. Perhaps you can do a ritual each day that includes your whole family. Light a candle, say a prayer before bed and grace before meals, offer a flower, pass a feather, share a hug, offer thanks, or watch the sunrise or set together. It doesn’t have to take long to be meaningful. Provide opportunities for your children so that any time they want to express their spirituality they can tap into their creativity and sing, dance, draw, or color their experience of God.
Getting outside in nature is a wonderful way to nurture your family’s and your children’s sense of wonder, beauty, awe, and appreciation. Many children and adults suffer from “nature-deficit disorder” even in a beautiful place like Maui. When you were a child you probably played outside for many hours a day. Perhaps you collected worms, stomped in puddles, gathered flowers and feathers, and made forts and rivers in the yard.
When many of today’s children grow up, their memories are more likely to be of the computer technology they played with as children, which doubtless will no longer exist by then. They will remember watching television shows and playing computer games rather than building sand castles or joining in hide and seek with the neighbors. Nature is God’s creativity in full bloom, and we humans are so obviously a part of that creation. Experiences in nature give us a sense of awe and of unlimited possibilities.
One cannot help but ponder life’s mysteries when looking up at a night sky full of stars that were invisible by daylight but were there nonetheless. What else is always there that we simply can’t see? Sitting in the presence of absolute beauty evokes a deep feeling of love that is lasting and can be shared. Being in nature also inspires a desire to be silent, to listen. That is when the whispers of God can be heard. Sharing these experiences with your family can create a powerful bond.
Create your own sacred garden or sacred space, complete with the special lights, candles, scents, spiritual music, prayer and rituals that intentionally honor and celebrate your relationships, accomplishments, and spirit all year long.
(Excerpted from Eve Hogan’s How To Love Your Marriage: Making Your Closest Relationship Work)