OK, I did something quite satisfying with my 12 year-old son yesterday.
It was Sunday. He’s a regular church goer with his Mom, who was out of town. I offered to go with him. For his sake. And out of my own interest. Spiritual life matters. I’m glad to have many expressions of it.
“I don’t want to go,” he said.
Hmm…. “What’s up?” I asked.
“I like church but I don’t like listening to everyone speaking.” That’s an honest answer that I appreciated and related to.
“Want to do ‘home church?'” I asked. I was a bit reluctant to give up so quickly on the communal experience, but I’m not the one that will push too hard on this, and we’ve done some home church before.
My son agreed. I quickly came up with 30 minutes worth of design.
I placed five books on the table and invited him to choose one that felt most interesting. I assured him there were no wrong answers. The books were Mary Oliver’s “Dreamwork,” John O’Donohue’s “To Bless The Space Between Us,” Ladinsky’s “Love Poems From God” (12 Sacred Voices From The East and West), Robert Sardello’s “Silence,” and Integrator and Scribner’s collection of poems in “Teaching with Heart.” I told him I would share three passages from the book he chose and ask a few questions.
My son chose Silence. Hmm…. Good choice. But aren’t they all. I’ve blogged a bit about this one previously.
After sharing passages, I then asked for 12 minutes of silence. We’ve done this before. One minute for each year of his age. It’s not just “not talking.” And it isn’t laying on the couch. I did require sitting up.
After the chimes rang from my timer, I then asked him to share one insight. And I shared one. The content was good. However, it was the engagement that I was going for.
And then we were done. Thirty minutes. Easy peasy. Meaningful. Not too long. Not too short. I encouraged him to think of being able to be silent as a king of muscle. Exercise it and it will be healthy or even grow in helping to hear and see what isn’t so obvious.
The gold of all of this, beyond the moment, was when I tucked him in for bed last night. We often do highlights of the day as a way of capping the day. My son’s shared it this way as he referenced home church — “Well…, I hate to admit it, but home church was pretty good.”
Good to have these moments of meaning with those that we love, isn’t it.