Reading God in our lives.
This week is National Book Week, a time when we encourage our children to read. I would like to offer a different kind of reading this week. Christians are known as people of ‘The Book’, that is the Bible, which is really a collection of a number of different books that show how God worked in human lives. We are also known as people of ‘The Word’, that is Jesus Christ. St Augustine, one of the greatest writers in the Church, loved playing with words and ideas. One of his best was to say that when God expressed his love, spoke his Word, Jesus, he was thinking of each one of us as a syllable in that Word. Amazing! This means that each of us has something special and unique to reveal about the love of God and about the person of Jesus. This specialness is integral to how we are made, who we are. We are not used to reading ourselves and need to work at this. One way is to think of five words that you think describe who you are. (If you think of negative characteristics, name the positive side of it as well.) I sometimes even make up syllables that sound like me. Then try and think of five words that describe your family or loved ones. Make this the basis of a great family or group sharing. This is owning of our best selves and how God’s presence is revealed in our lives.
This week is also Seniors Week and offers us a great opportunity to ask our grandparents how God has written in their ‘Book of Life’. There is so much wisdom to be read there!
Book Week: Find your treasure
I am on the email list of James Clear, a self-help guru, who often has helpful hints. His passions are weightlifting, travel and photography – none of which are mine. But why would I read material from someone so different to me? Because the advice he gives is useful: find your passion, stick to it with practice every day and the aim for small changes. Why on earth would I read material from someone so different to me? Because he challenges and confirms my way of looking at life. Weightlifting! Beyond my experience or desires. Daily faithful commitment, oh how I want that. Reading the experiences of other people not only takes us beyond our narrow world, it helps us discover what is important in our own.
But we need to reflect on what we read…and on our own hearts as well. Jesus gave this advice: where your treasure is, there is your heart. As we read, we can notice what appeals to us and what we disagree with, who we admire and why, who we don’t want to be like. As we sift over these things, we clarify what is important to us, finding our treasure, we discover what would feed out heart.
How can we help our child/ren find the treasure, the focus of their lives? By helping them develop that reflective spirit that ponders on life. We can do this practically by talking about the books they read, the videos they watch. We can ask them what they liked? What inspired them? Who did they want to be like? Even the simplest picture can give entry into the heart.
Loving Father, your desire is to be the treasure in our hearts. As we ‘read’ our lives and discover you as the source of all goodness, may we help our child/ren to discover treasure through their reading. We ask this in Jesus’ name confident that you will hear me.
A different kind of educational funding
A major issue in this election is school funding. It is important. Indeed, education is probably the most important investment we make in our nation’s future. That said, there is a different kind of funding we need to seriously consider: time and interest. One experienced teacher said that the two most effective things you can do for your child/ren’s education is to read to them and to listen to their reading. You might say ‘That’s okay when they are little but what about when they grow older?’ The commitment is still as important. Reading to and listening to reading with little children involves both, adult and child, speaking and listening. This is a commitment of time and attention through a neutral thing, a book, and the common experience can lead to communion. Children love this not just because their reading improves but because we are made for communion. Our God is a community, Father, Son and Spirit. Being made in the image of God, the desire to be with each other is wired into our heart’s DNA. We have a deep desire to be with each other. As children morph into adolescents the desire is still there but we, as adults, have to be more sensitive and creative in finding a ‘neutral’ thing, a hobby or interest, where we can be in communion with our child/ren. As we work to make connections, to find things that foster communion, we become more loving, more Godlike. It is not only our child/ren that are transformed. Our own hearts too are fulfilled.
Loving God, send me the wisdom of your Spirit so that I make find the best ways to spend time and show interest in my child/ren. Let our time together lead us into love and a richer life. I ask this in Jesus’ name confident that you will hear me.