My wife is so freakin’ wise, and she doesn’t even realize it. A few months ago she said she wanted to give our kids what we had growing up: exposure to a belief system. I was raised Catholic (sorta) and she was raised Methodist. Even though neither of us has stayed with our childhood religions, she saw the stark truth of what those religions gave us.
Fast forward a gazillion years and she realized our kids were on the verge of missing-out on part of that human puzzle – spirituality. Sure, we can all find our own spirituality without the help of a church or organization (if we wish to). However, kids have such open, wondrous minds – we decided it made sense for us to give them some early exposure to self-awareness. I believe spirituality is the inner search which eventually leads to a more complete understanding of oneself. How could we not do our best, as parents, to lay the groundwork for our children to be well equipped for that journey? Right, the decision was obvious for us. Your mileage may vary.
Since neither of us is a trained spiritual advisor, we decided to shop around a bit. Now, lemme just stop here to tell you something about myself – I don’t kneel in Catholic churches anymore. I know, I know. When in Rome… BUT, since I’m firmly agnostic, how can I be certain that my act of reverence before some random god won’t anger another random god? I mean, it’s great that everyone else in the church has faith in their deity, but I don’t.
Nope, not gonna risk it.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Catholics (or anyone else, from any religion for that matter). Catholicism just isn’t for me. Neither are most of the other religions of the world. However, I do believe a spiritual environment can be potent in one’s self-searching journey. Necessary? No. Helpful? I believe so.
I think we found our church today. Unlike other church’s “kid’s story” time, where the huddled kids are lorded-over by someone reading from the Bible, this new church’s minister sat on the floor with them and read them a kid’s book about sharing, cooperation and community. Instead of imprinting some set of rules or Hell punishment mentality, this new church talked about allowing our children to explore their own spirituality in a way unique to them. Instead of “ra ra Jesus” (or “blood for Cthulhu”, or whatever else you pour your faith into), this new church is open to many different possibilities and doesn’t brand some as right or wrong. The kids will be free to individually take that inner journey, all with the support of the everyone else there.
Now, don’t get me wrong – structure, defined faith and dogma all work for a majority of faithful people. That’s awesome. As I’ve mentioned several times in this post – the journey is unique to each of us. If a more rigid view of God (or the gods, or Gaia, or the human-god) is what you need, more power to ya! However, that just wasn’t right for our family.
I almost didn’t post this because I know how sensitive some people are to religion and religious discussions. However, I view “religion” quite differently than most. As a human being, I view spirituality as part of the human condition along with physical and mental awareness. As I begin this next chapter of my life, I’ve been focusing upon my own spirit – my own inner journey. Sharing is just part of the trip for me…