Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Spirituality of Advent, Day 4, Week 3

Today, I did not run.  Today, I am going to ponder something that didn't bring me joy or suggest any degree of spirituality.  

Yesterday, I got back from a trip to London that lasted less than a total of forty-eight hours.  I felt joy at being home.  I felt joy at the sense of comfort.  I felt joy at the sense of familiarity.  I felt joy because I was home with family.  I felt joy at being able to cuddle with Sherry.  Easy discussion.  Catching up after two days.  Understanding what I missed while away.  Breathing together.  Being together.  Resting together.  Just being at peace.  And a spirituality as I realized how important it was to come home to something other than just my own existence in a house.  

But that was just one part of what I felt.  That was the part that brought me joy.

Which isn't to say that I felt no joy in being home and talking with my kids.  Finding out about the concert in which Christopher played that I'd missed.  Finding out about hockey practice.  Finding out about Joshua's high school thoughts.

But I found that very few (if any) of the hand washable only dishes had been washed.  I had given one simple instruction before I left--make sure that I did not have to do three days worth of dishes when I returned.  My children didn't do that.  And that frustrated me.  The joy was not there.  

What is interesting is thinking about how long it takes growing children to realize what I refer to as spirituality, i.e., that we are a part of something bigger.  No matter what example I set.  No matter what we hear at church every Sunday.  No matter what they are taught in school.  It interests me to ponder just how long it takes children to take in the idea that they are a part of something bigger--and act on it.  In this case, it is being part of a family.  It is being part of a group that if not everyone acts together we end up with a less than ideal outcome.

So, how do you get a child to appreciate that he or she is a part of something bigger?  Hopefully, the child will eventually get there.  I know that after reading my oldest son's college application essays, he understands that he is a part of something bigger.  Orchestras.  Family.  Community.  That the world is a place that he is a part of.  That the world does not center around him.  

Interestingly--it is sometimes incredibly difficult to get him to do things within the family.  However, the other day when I thought I had completely lost my university ID, he went to look for it in the grocery store parking lot while I took a shower to get ready for work.  That just shows that the growth in spirituality is not even across all aspects of life at the same time.

Then there is my 14 year old.  Yes, he realizes that he is a part of a social dynamic and that he is part of a a boychoir.  And he will contribute by making dinner.  He just doesn't like to clean up afterwards.

Even my 8 year old sort of begins to realize that he is a part of something bigger like the teams he plays on.  But that only goes so far.

So, I guess I can see the evolution of understanding that a person is part of something bigger by watching my three sons.

And some day, I hope they will ponder how they are part of many things bigger just like I do.

And some day, I hope they will come to some fascinating conclusions and take joy in those conclusions.

But right now, I just hope that the next time I travel for work, my three children remember that they are part of a basic family unit and act on it.  That would be a good start toward a stronger sense of spirituality in the world.   

As  a final thought, it is interesting to think that being part of something bigger is not just enjoying the fun parts of being something bigger, but also being willing to do the things we don't enjoy along the way.  It reminds me of a comment from the owner of Charm City Run and a blog entry posted by Emily Sloman the tattoo artist I went to.  The blog entry is about becoming an apprentice tattoo artist, but it reflects not being selfish and wanting things to come too quickly.  

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