Sunday, December 11, 2011

Be Present!

Sometimes, as we seek to train our children up in their faith, the best thing we can do for them is to simply be present – to cuddle and comfort them when they don't feel well, to attend to their needs, both body and spirit.

This is exactly how I spent the final hours of my evening last night.

My son has caught the cold that many of the rest of our family and I have been suffering with.  For him, it has caused a persistent cough.  This made getting to sleep – which is always a challenge for him – particularly difficult.  So, I laid holding my six-year-old son, alternately stroking his hair, patting his back and simply being present.

As I lay there, my son's mind wandered as it usually does at bedtime, unable to "shut off".  As he chattered away between coughs about his thoughts, he asked, "If I love God and he loves me, why do I still get sick or hurt?"  In response, I asked him if he recalled the beginning of the story we'd continued reading just before bed, One Wintry Night, or the beginning of one of the stories we've been reading in the mornings lately, The Jesse Tree.  He did:  the story of Adam and Eve.

Hence, began a brief, but fruitful conversation between my son and me, one that answered his question, reminded him of the true meaning of Christmas and also gave him comfort, both in body (as I lay holding his hand while we talked) and spirit (as he remembered that there is a day coming when all sickness and hurt will be gone.)

Eventually, my son fell asleep, but not before he piped up with a question I have yet to figure out how to answer completely in terms he will understand and accept:  "Will we go to Heaven body and soul?"  For now, I just responded, "as Mary did?" and gave him a squeeze.

Choosing to be present with my son last night, and to parent him to sleep, offered an opportunity for my son to ask me something he'd been thinking about, which, in turn, allowed us to dive into his understanding of faith further.  Have you found that taking time with your young children opens up moments of faith formation, too?  

Thanks to folks who linked up here at A Call to Faith Formation in Young Children last week.  Tercets Plaque for Our Lady of Guadalupe post might be particularly inspirational for folks seeking to honor Our Lady tomorrow.


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