Joyful Noise: The Learning Process and the Spiritual Life

c) 2014 Jocelyn Mathewes / used with permission

c) 2014 Jocelyn Mathewes / used with permission

As a mother of young children, my daily habits make it very easy to focus on passing down practical knowledge. I find it easy to read books on my own, to show my children that reading opens worlds; just as I find it easy to show that I need math to calculate a tip, or that daily exercise makes my body stronger.

But turning these questions to my children’s spiritual life opens up hard questions for myself.

What actions reveal (to them or any stranger) that my faith is important? Implicitly, my children learn that the communal part of faith is valuable when I schedule our family routine around the rhythm of liturgical services. They learn about the discipline of fasting as they listen to my husband and I discuss how to plan the menu in the coming week.

But how do they know my faith is more than these external elements?

In the past, I made sure to read Scripture or the lives of the saints. As life with small children and a spouse leaves little in the way of solitary time, this has become a great personal challenge.

Here, I try to draw from my own self-coaching practices on exercise, reminding myself that “five minutes is better than zero.” What is most helpful is ensuring that I cultivate and follow my own genuine curiosity about my faith, all the while constructing my day, so as to give myself pockets of prayer and reading. If I try to wait for a perfect, quiet moment, it almost never comes.

I am in the season of fragmented learning, which can be frustrating. But this new structure to my life gives my children a window into my personal faith; if they see my determination to follow my interest and cultivate spiritual knowledge, they will know how I value my faith.

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