“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” (John 14:23-29)
This passage is a favorite of mine, coming as it does toward the very end of John’s gospel and part of Jesus’s final discourse at the Last Supper. He reminds us that if we love one another and keep his word, he and his Father will make a home for us.
In this dwelling place, John tells us that we are most precious in God’s sight, “With radiance like the precious stones, like a jasper, clear as crystal.”
So what kind of home is Jesus speaking? How do kids see the world now – with our health concerns and the world at war. Our home is an important place to start, after all.
This past week, the parenting column in the Washington Post caught my attention. Writer Meghan Leahy responded to a parent asking: “Our 6-year-old has a lot. How do we teach him to care for others?”
The parent describes her son: “He has never experienced hunger or insecurity at home. He can’t fathom what he doesn’t see or hasn’t experienced, so it’s a futile exercise to talk to him about how lucky he is. We’ve discussed showing him news footage of Ukraine or areas of famine to clearly illustrate how much worse life can be. Any suggestions?”
Such a solution sounds drastic to me.
Megan Leahy replies: “I am not implying that we hide the world’s troubles from our children. I am instead suggesting that we look closer to home when it comes to practicing generosity and gratitude, such as an elderly neighbor who needs help with his lawn; a family with a new baby who would appreciate a meal; a local library that needs volunteers; or a local food bank that needs people to deliver meals.
Whether it be weekly, monthly, or yearly, you should include your son in these endeavors because at the end of the day, helping alongside you will create the deepest effects. Being a role model trumps giving lectures every time.”
So in a way, children are extensions of their parents, and doing service activities together provides the right kind of role modeling for youngsters. To my mind, these are “works of the Holy Spirit.”
The columnist turns the situation around by asking these pointed questions: “Look at your family’s larger dynamic. Does he complain and get a ton of attention for it? Are you always reminding him of how lucky your family is? Are you always negating his emotional experiences, forcing him to double down on his complaints? Zoom out and take a good look at the back-and-forth, and see what role you are playing in his Eeyore ways. Whatever you do, don’t start clinking on images of war and starvation. Good luck.” That’s for sure!
I think both adults in the room are missing something important. Draw on the creativity, imagination, and insights of our six-year-olds. Playful activities, exposure to community resources, and our local parish church allow us to see how others live, perhaps those on the margins and not living the lives of affluence and privilege.
Whether my age, your age, or that of a 6-year-old, we need deeper awareness about the world situation, and perhaps retraining. This summer might provide us with the “boot camp” to adjust our attitudes and adapt to the coming school year and fall season.
Look closer to home, and that’s especially true in parents passing on to children their deeply seeded religious values, often expressed in social concerns of a neighborhood or the local parish community.
So along with our parents, family members, and friends, we are on a “faith journey.”
Recently, I came across a quote from a religious educator, Margaret Felice, who asks, “Where do you see God on your life’s journey? What part of your life feels dark and shut out from the Lord? Do you struggle to see God’s grace at work? Invite God to give you the vision that sees grace in all things.”
Kids possess such a natural radiance that touches on God’s gift to us. To see grace in all things that’s the gift of a lifetime!
Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.