We have spent much of our energy on teaching children the things of our faith; having them know the Sign of the Cross, and common prayers. Little do we appreciate them as spiritual beings just like us grown-ups. I often think about the growth of God in their souls.
All human beings are spiritual. We have a “spirit- receiver,” and can use our conversations with children to stimulate their affinity towards God. Rather than worry about memorizing Bible stories, it is more important a child comes away from the Gospel stirred into thought and troubled into compassion, than if he or she is able to repeat back a lesson or moral.
Rebecca Nye, in her book "Children’s Spirituality: What it is and why it matters," tells us it is in fact the power of Godly play when we simply share the story with children, difficult parts and all, and then get out of the way allowing for the Holy Spirit to act. She gives us a method to encourage a child’s spiritual life. Here are her steps for sharing stories:
- Simply sharing the story as it is written.
- Get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit work.
- Offer to let them retell the story and play the story out to understand the meaning in their own way.
- Encourage them to “wonder about it”. There is no right way of understanding. Every response is respected, even honored.
- Address each wonderment with, “I’ve wondered about that too…hmmm.”
She encourages us to “facilitate wonder.” Facilitating wonder can be an attitude that is applied to a wide range of encounters with children. It is very helpful in nurturing spirituality. In this facilitation there are no “rights or wrongs’ but only, “I wonder.” Is that not where all our encounters with the divine leave us? I wonder.