Thursday, January 24, 2008

Parenting is a spiritual and soulful calling

Thomas Moore’s column for the November - December 2007 issues of Spirituality and Health is available (with free registration) in the Articles section of the magazine's site. "Sacred Time with Children" describes parenting as a spiritual and soulful activity. Moore writes,
"Many people seem to think of spirituality as ethereal, remote, and abstract. They think it has to do with meditating, depriving yourself, and becoming as virtuous as possible. But traditional teachings around the world suggest that spirituality is directly connected to the most ordinary human activities. When you’re a parent, you don’t have to go in search of ways of depriving yourself, and if by chance you should ever feel virtuous about your self-deprivations, your children will take that feeling away from you, too.

You have to be a guide for your child in the things that matter most: safety, health, learning, growing up, having a life vision, and living ethically. Who else has such a profound and far-reaching job? Parenthood is a calling — a way to find meaning in your own life. Spirituality is about transcending any limits on your vision. Raising a child, you are contributing to society and to the future. You are going beyond yourself, not just in your thoughts and ideals but in a real and tangible way. You may not be certain that you’re doing the right thing always, and you may never see the full fruits of your effort. So you live by faith, and isn’t that the essence of the spiritual life?

All the details of being a parent — cleaning, teaching, picking up, driving, paying for school and lessons, guiding, counseling, feeding, clothing, and entertaining — take on a spiritual dimension. You are doing them to transform a child into a thoughtful and engaged adult. You are ministering. You are a priest and priestess. You are unfolding the work you began when in the holy act of sex you made a person with a soul and spirit."
He further suggests, "Spiritual vision gives valuable emotional distance, disentangles your own past experiences and your complex emotions, so that you don’t pile them up on your child. In this way, spirit and soul work together to make good parenting."

Moore’s column for January - February 2008 is "Allowing Ourselves to be Seen by Art," and his March - April 2008 column, "Finding Life at Work," is the topic of his newest book, A Life at Work, to be distributed at the end of next month.

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