When I first started to mother, I was determined to raise committed Catholic Christians and so I tried too hard. I had the mistaken notion that my kids were blank slates and I personally had to teach them everything. I assumed the role of the teacher, the resident expert. However, God had to shake me out of this arrogant stance by humbling me in the face of my children’s unique, innate spirituality. Kids have a pure, open relationship with the heavenly Father and Mother Mary.
Our children come from the heart of God; He knew them in the womb and they knew God.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you; I appointed you as prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1: 5)
Then at baptism, these little people become one with Christ. I discovered this initial sacrament is not simply a meaningless ritual but a real life, powerful encounter which actually transformed my children into little spiritual people who could teach me about the nature of God and life in the Spirit. As I mothered nine children, I learned how to give God the time and opportunity to touch, love and speak to my kids by allowing them to be bored, allowing then unstructured time to play and to be creative.
Listen to this debate between two of my pre-schoolers.
God Speaks in the Silence
It was early evening. We often played musical beds at bedtime because the younger children liked the security of a sibling or two falling asleep with them, especially when older brothers and sisters were still up and having fun. So it happened that I was laying down on Claire’s bed nursing an infant while she played with my hair and sucked her thumb. Five-year-old Joseph was almost asleep across the room. His breathing was slow and deep. The only other sound in the peaceful room came from a fan that created just enough white noise to drown out the other kid’s voices.
Joseph suddenly sat straight up in bed, popped his eyes open and yelled excitedly,“Someone just called my name. I think it was God!”
Claire took her thumb out of her mouth and lisped,“Who is God?”
I turned my head to look at her and smiled, “You know, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
She was still puzzled, “You mean the priest at church?”
“No”, I responded, “The God that fills the whole universe.”
Claire took her thumb out of her mouth and said very dismissively,“Oh, Him. I know Him.” Then she closed her eyes and stuck her thumb back in her mouth. Discussion closed.
I barely held in my laughter. This little squirt took for granted her close relationship with the Living God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. God is close to babies and little children. His relationship with them is not complicated, as natural as breathing. They are simply His children; He loves them and they reflect love back.
Joseph interrupted and added joyfully,“Well, He called my name!”
Claire opened her eyes and stated very authoritatively but in a nasal, little girl voice,“It was just your imagination, Joooooe.” Then she closed her eyes and started sucking her thumb again.
Joseph was upset. I countered her statement,“It could be God, Claire. The Holy Spirit lives in our hearts and does communicate with us.” Joseph was satisfied and he lay back down to sleep. Claire just closed her eyes in dismal and popped her thumb back in her mouth.
The Simplicity of Children
I was astounded, one of my preschoolers had heard the voice of God and the other took a relation with the Heavenly Father completely in her stride as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
Maybe a deep connection with Christ is natural; adults just complicate the simplicity of God. The problem is tapping into and living out from my core where God has inscribed His fingerprint on my heart. It is hidden in my deepest self. Actually, if we can block out our own ego and selfishness, and simply stop and listen, we too can hear the voice of Christ and allow Him to draw us close to His heart.