What are my children doing here, and what does it have to do with faith formation?
They are bowing to Jesus’ name.
About two weeks ago, we began re-reading Little Acts of Grace during our morning circle time. This gem of a book introduces young children to gestures, thoughts and actions that can help to keep our minds and hearts focused on God. After reading the page in it about nodding our heads in order to show love and respect when we hear the name Jesus, the children and I played an impromptu game to practice the concept.
Since it was the week of the Feast of the Assumption, I told a brief story about the Mary and her Assumption into Heaven. As I did, the children listened carefully, and every time I said the name “Jesus” within the story, they nodded their heads or bowed.
When I had finished telling my story, the children asked if we could take turns telling more stories and bowing to Jesus. Of course, I agreed.
Luke began with story about St. Anne, which he brought straight through to the Assumption. In doing so, he amazed me not only with how often he managed to incorporate Jesus’ name so that Nina and I would nod or bow, but also with how he hit upon some of the main events of St. Anne’s life, St. Mary’s childhood and St. Mary’s experience as Jesus’ mother.
Upon listening to Luke’s narration, I found myself bowing for more reasons than just to practice showing love and respect for Jesus. Indeed, I bowed my head with thanksgiving that our Lord’s story is written in my son’s heart and how gifted I was at that moment with his exuberance to share his six-year-old-understanding of it. What a moment of simple joy and blessing!
Then, it was Nina’s turn as storyteller. Her choice of story – or, rather, song – was no less moving for me. In her sweet, five-year-old voice, Nina sang a self-composed song of Jesus’ birth which transitioned into a chorus of “Jesus Christ lay down his life for us, for us...” Nina sang with whole-hearted emotion. Wow!
When Nina’s turn ended, Jack chimed in with his far briefer turn, which was but one word if I recall – “Amen.”
I could not have closed the morning’s prayer time and game better myself!
Nor could I have imagined the impact our brief impromptu game would have...
Since we first played Giving a Nod to Jesus in our front yard, the children have requested to play it a number of times in the car. They have also carefully bowed their heads more often at the mention of Jesus’ name during prayer time, faith story times and Mass. A "little act of grace" that even I had been too often neglecting, is becoming a habit again in our home – one observed with attentive joy and love.
What little acts of love might you revitalize in your own daily habits and those of your children? How can you make doing so fun as well as faith-filled?
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