As I write, I am waiting for my grand-niece to be born; we have been waiting for the 24 hours of labor my niece has endured with such desire and expectation. To hold a new-born infant for the first time must be a little like meeting a pen-pal in person, but infinitely more intimate and awe-inspiring!
To finally look into the face of one’s child could be the definition of ecstasy. Somehow, looking into the eyes of any young child or toddler can give one a glimpse of God.
Last week, I came down the hall in our Archdiocesan offices where one dad (employee) was standing with his three and four year old sons at the door a priest friend’s office. As I drew near to speak with the boys, I was surprised to see them holding two sacred objects (gifts from this priest) close to their hearts: one sharing a ceramic tryptic illustrating Bible scenes, and the other holding an icon of Christ crowned with thorns! The young children held these objects so tenderly, barely speaking; their eyes grew bigger as they shared their treasures, looking up with the greatest wonder mixed with joy that I have ever seen. I felt God looking out through them!
Children respond deeply to what is most essential in life. They can intuitively respond to the Sacred with great tenderness and devotion, yes, even with silence. How can this be? Sometimes we need to catch them off-guard, in quiet moments, or gaze when they cuddle in a way that shares their simple, open tenderness. Actually, we are told by those who have studied the young child, that they are born with an innate knowledge of God. An infant, from the moment of conception, is being shaped by the Creator’s loving presence. In a sense, the infant spends nine months of solitary and often silent communion with their Creator and Father in the temple of the mother’s body!
Once born, how does this innate knowledge grow and flourish in the child? Is it in our power to foster, or to obscure the child’s connection with God?
Parents, grandparents, teachers, and yes, even our FAITH program materials, can involve children in bible stories and interactive creativity that delight them and teach them about God. All great. But can we help them “remember” their felt experience of the very presence of God?
What are ways and times when we can share with words or images the truth we know about God that can help them name their felt experience with a loving God, Father and Brother and grow in a life-long relationship?
A parent’s experience (as well as research) tells us children will grow to know God as the Real Presence of peace and joy in their hearts, and in the Eucharist, if they have already shared a personal experience of this Divine Presence with a loved one.
To elicit such love and wonder in a toddler, we must always remember to speak of God often as our companion, and to take moments in our homes, in daily life, to show reverence in simple rituals and prayer that deepen other experien
Don’t water down the message!
Would you like to share any experience from your children that revealed God’s presence to you? Or any way you have shared a moment with your toddler that connected you both to our transcendent and loving Father? Has your child come to know Jesus in ways that elicits awe in you?
Please email your experiences to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And relish this shared God-life!