Three-year-olds and thirteen-year-olds are my favorite ages of children. There, I said it.
I’ll grant you, those two age groups contain their own special blend of lunacy and wonder, and they are both smelly ages. They each have a lot of opinions, and most of them wear their emotions very, very, very close to the surface. And I love them so much. I’ve spent a good portion of my professional life with kids in these very age groups, and learning alongside them has revealed the face and heart of Jesus to me time and again.
A long, long time ago (seriously, some of my students are in college now) I taught 7th grade Sacred Studies at an Episcopal school. Our story arc for the year spanned all the things that take place in the Bible between the giving of the Ten Commandments all the way to Pentecost. My curriculum was more of a marathon than a sprint, and I knew it was going to take us some intentional stretching to help us be ready to run well together. To that end, every single class period, instead of beginning immediately with instruction or even roll call, we sat together in silence and cleared our minds for one whole minute. The one rule was that you couldn’t break the silence, otherwise, we’d have to restart the clock. This was a gift we were giving ourselves, and we weren’t going to be stingy with it.
You would guess rightly that it took several classes for us to get into our groove of observing our minute of mindfulness (what I called it on our schedule). But what might surprise you—it sure surprised me—is that by mid-semester, they were begging for that time, sometimes even asking me for…are you ready for this…five minutes. The space they could create inside themselves in just 60 seconds—whether they were praying, or staring off into space, or staring at the back of the head of their most recent crush—was just enough to let them stretch out and prepare to learn.
Watching them learn how to be still and give themselves the gift of time was a wonder to behold. And being quiet beside them made me more aware of their personalities and attuned to their expressions and postures. We learned so much about each other in our quiet moments.
You are very likely right back into your marathon-pace of fall, even though it’s technically still summer for almost another whole month. If you’ve got kiddos at home or kiddos in your life, they are running at full-tilt right now. Figuring out a way to make all the things happen in a timely fashion and without tears and meltdowns is your daily due diligence. You are so deep in my prayers right now, my friends. And so are your babies. You can do this, run this crazy autumnal marathon—and you’re gonna need to stretch to run well.
Give yourself and your kiddos time to breathe together—even if it’s just for 60 seconds in the car on the way to someplace else or while you brush your teeth or braid hair or whatever works for you. Jesus does wonders with that still space we make in our hearts and makes it enough—more than enough—to carry us wherever we need to go.
You’re doing this growing business, my friends, day by day, in quiet minutes and in loud hours, and it is beautiful.
Do you make time for silence in your day? How about with children?
Wayne Sanders says
Love your down to earth and really important messages for me and our family. Keep them coming.
They are keeping us Inspired here in sunny and mild San Diego, Thanks!
Fr. Wayne Sanders+