Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Power of Pause

Our Lean-To

A Blissful Moment

My youngest sleeps peacefully in his stroller.  My middle child tugs persistently at a large rock in the ground. My eldest gathers fallen pine branches.  I bathe in a streaming ray of sunshine that dances down from the heavens between a canopy of autumn leaves above me.  Life is good.  The “Power of Pause” has renewed my spirit.

A Negative Model

You see, Thursday was not a stellar day in our household.  Challenges with my children made and how I reacted to resulted in a less than joy-filled atmosphere. 

The frustrations of the day spilled over into the next.  Early Friday morning I found myself succumbing to thoughts of, “Ugh, another day…” instead of, “Thank you, God, for this new day!”  I yielded to defeat and despair instead of simply accepting what was and offering each small trial to God.  My bad!  I was not in a mode, nor a mood, that was provided a good model for my young children.

The Power of Pause

Luckily, I remembered to pray and, even though I hardly felt like it, to pause, pray and play.

Ahh, play!  The work of children and an elixir for caretakers as well, especially when it involves letting go of schedules, taking a reprieve from task lists and following a child’s request to romp in nearby natural surroundings, which God so kindly put in place for us.

As my children and I built a lean-to in the woods, frustration and defeat made way for delight and blessings.  My eldest son sang as he worked.  My daughter’s imagination turned rocks into future resting places.  My youngest son smiled in his sleep.  At times, my older children worked as a team and, at other moments, they carried on with solo intent and imagination.    Our afternoon became infused with peace, purpose, quiet and contentedness.  It offered a true sense of retreat and renewal for me.

It also inspired my almost six-year-old to ask a question which opened up a brief, by fruitful chat about God.  As we left the woods by way of a path, which thorn bushes had begun to overtake, my son wondered aloud why God makes briars if they can hurt people.  Attuned to his thoughts, I shared some ideas.  He listened keenly, questioned more and offered his own insights.  I delighted in seeing how his understanding of faith was developing through the catalyst of nature-inspired conversation.

At dinnertime, I also marveled at the powerful impression our time in the woods had had on my children.  During grace, my daughter spontaneously offered thanks for “building together on the woods” and my son chimed in with praise for the materials God created with which we had built our lean-to.  Me? I voiced gratitude for God’s natural handicrafts and for the blessed opportunity to share some with my children.

Later, as I went to bed, I reflected on how a woodsy pause had renewed and uplifted our spirits. 

Modeling Prayer and Pause

Modern day life can get very busy.  Challenges arise.  Frustrations levels sometimes increase accordingly.  Perhaps when we recognize this happening, our best recourse is to simply model for our children the behavior Christ modeled for us – to pray and to pause. 

Jesus took time away in the wilderness.  In literal, practical terms, we can teach our young children to practice similar retreats from daily life.  I know I’m glad I followed my son’s request to do so on Friday.  Through our experience, the Lord certainly made all things work together for good. 

How have you experienced the Power of Pause with your young children of late?  Have you caught yourself modeling less than desirable character and behavior and choosing to change them?  How has nature acted as a catalyst for faith development?  Do share in a comment.

Also, please feel free to ask a question or share a thought, idea or resources for guiding faith formation in young children.  We would be happy to try to respond in future weeks of Training Happy Hearts: A Call to Faith Formation for Young Children, published here every Sunday.

P.S.   If you’d be kind enough to do so, please click over to our contest entry at My Special Needs Network and leave a comment, which will act as a vote towards helping our win $250 in sensory supplies and equipment.  And, if you have any friends who might be interested in the Network or willing to vote for us, feel free to pass the information along.


Yvette said...

I love this. You are right that being out in nature tends to restore peace and joy, as well as inspire thoughts of God and thankfulness. I never thought about it before, but many of my positive conversations about God (you know, the ones not involving discipline) with my children have taken place while playing or exploring outdoors. Thanks for the reminder. Taking a deep breath now!

Terry Hershey said...

Your blog caught my eye, because I have a book called The Power of Pause... About what it means to be attentive to the life you have right now, and experience the sacred and the wonder within this present moment. Keep doing what you are doing, teaching children about the power of pause relative to prayer and play. As adults we've lost touch with that... and don't let our souls catch up with our bodies.


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