Let me preface this by saying it's not a post about religion...my father taught me not to talk about that and politics at the dinner table.
It's a post about parenting.
My husband and I were raised in a spiritual vacuum.
It's not our term, it came from a recent episode of Parenthood, but it sums it up perfectly.
Religion played some role in our early childhood, but that role rapidly diminished with time and the only memories I have of going to church was on Easter (big in the Greek Orthodox community) and when someone died, to light a candle. I won't speak to my husband's experience because it is his and not mine, but it wasn't far off.
We were always sort of ok with that. Where we grew up in Montreal, most of our friends and neighbors had similar spiritual upbringings. We all knew what religion was and what religion our family was and it basically ended there. Some (not like us) got married in a church, some (like us) baptized their kids, but other than that, religion in the traditional sense didn't play a big role in any of our lives.
And until now, we've still been fine with it.
But now we have children. And we live in a community that puts a strong emphasis on religion, whichever one you choose. It is a pillar in our friends and neighbors' routines, beliefs and daily thought-processes and while it was a slight adjustment for us, we've come to understand it and respect it.
And suddenly, to use it as an opportunity to finally examine our own take on it.
You see D came home a few weeks ago to tell us she had joined "The God Club" at school, led by a little boy in her first grade class.
She is the only other member.
In God Club, on Tuesdays at lunch, this little boy talks to her about God, tells her about church, shows her "how to" pray.
And our little girl, already well on her way down the same spiritual vacuum we grew up in rather comfortably, is eating it up.
It makes for interesting fodder at the dinner table (yup, right where we're supposed to skip over it). She tells us what her friend tells her about Jesus and Easter and God (some of it seemingly right on, some of it not). She tells us what she thinks about what he tells her. She takes a bite of pasta and asks for more.
We sit and listen. We take it all in. We ask a question or two.
She offers an answer from what she has learned in God Club.
From a six year old. On the playground. By the handball court. On Tuesdays at lunch.
Clearly the bigger question was one we had to ask ourselves: do we want to raise our own children in a spiritual vacuum? What role does religion play in our lives? Should we change that? How? When?
And furthermore, what club is next? Just when you think you're doing ok at this parenting thing - they eat, read, sleep and go to the dentist regularly - the universe (or perhaps God himself?) reminds you that you have so many more steps to take. So many more lessons to teach. So many little thoughts to cultivate and support and nourish.
You can't live in a parenting vacuum. You need to take on these issues - and so many more - and figure out what they mean to you and what you want them to mean to your children. You need to have the conversation with your partner and with your kids and keep the conversation going...before all of them just take place on the playground.
So we have asked D to keep us posted on God Club. To let us know what her friend shares with her so that we can share our thoughts and experiences as well (we won't bring up the vacuum analogy, don't worry). We've invited her to ask us lots of questions and we promised to have lots of answers and to find the ones we don't have.
And we'll be sure to ask lots of questions of our own, in turn.
Because our little club has four members.
And we need to ensure we stick together.
*originally published in May 2014, image above via Death to Stock Photo