Wonder. Being in the moment. Feeling close to God. These are all ways that our kids experience spirituality; and they could teach us a thing or two. All we have to do, perhaps, is put their experiences into a context. Ignatian spirituality, for example.
Ignatian spirituality is so simple, and so fulfilling, that it’s easy to introduce into the lives of children. In fact, children are closer to many aspects of Ignatian spirituality than we are! We’ve taken a step away from the close relationship we had with God when we were little. Perhaps, in teaching this to children, we can rediscover it for ourselves as well:
- Find God in all things. Kids are able to integrate spirituality with daily life in ways that we as adults are sometimes unable to do. Take a field trip and point out everything that God made—trees and rocks, but also people and animals too. We are surrounded by what God has made and done. What would it be like to bring that awareness to every moment of our lives?
- St. Ignatius taught something called imaginative prayer, and this, too, can be easier for children than it is for adults. Think about sharing a Bible scene with your child or children, and then lead them into imagining themselves in that scene. Think about being one of the people on the hillside when Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fishes, for example. How do you feel at first? Probably hungry! What’s it like to feel hungry? This kind of discussion can lead deeper into an understanding of the stories of Jesus and therefore into a deeper closeness with God.
- And third comes St. Ignatius’ Examen prayer. It doesn’t have to be deep. Ask your child about their day. What things happened? How did those things make them feel? Can they see God in any of the events or feelings of the day? What did they do that they don’t feel good about? How can they change that tomorrow? This is the time to thank God for all good things and to ask for help in facing new challenges.
Spirituality isn’t the realm of mystics and theologians. Jesus said in so many ways that children are the closest to truth, that a child’s sense of wonder and a child’s trust are holy in their simplicity.
As you teach these three facets of Ignatian spirituality to your child, you will no doubt find that your child teaches you a great deal about spirituality as well.