So much can be learned right in our own homes with our families. One thing I am learning about in my home, from great teachers, is diversity and tolerance, especially in the area of spirituality and religion. My husband Stephen and I began our relationship with not much consideration, really, about our spirituality or religion. We really didn't pay much attention or give it a whole lot of thought. We were young, starting careers and having fun with friends. Sunday mornings were about sleeping in, lazy lounging, cups of coffee and being carefree. The closest we got to church was a momentary pause flicking through channels past various preachers, or church bells ringing off in the distance.
Today we are in our forties, have three kids at home, our world has changed dramatically. We still don't go to church. This fact has caused me some internal turmoil. As I listen to other moms talk about Sunday school, first communion and other facets of their communities of faith and the instilling of religious values in their children, I have wondered if I am cheating my children. I have wondered if I am doing them wrong. In reality I know I am not doing any harm, I am being true to myself and that is a vital quality for my children to know and experience. I know that our approach has also opened the door for them to have a self discovery of faith (or not).
As it goes, along the way I found yoga and it has become my life path, my spiritual path, my holy ground. Stephen has discovered Buddhism and its non theistic spiritual discipline. We each found our practices when it was right and when we were ready. Our kids see us doing our practices and we talk to them about what we have chosen. They see my altar everyday, as well as meditation cushions, Buddha and Ganesha statues aplenty. Our bookshelves are full of diverse titles on yoga, spirituality and philosophy. We have created an environment that encourages awareness and inquiry. I do yoga sometimes with our daughters and our son is occasionally persuaded to meditate.
This environment has created interesting results. Mason, our 13 year old son, is a self proclaimed "atheist who believes in the scientific method". He announced this to the family at dinner one night with real conviction and empowerment. Part of me felt a strong resistance coming up and a desire to react and argue, but instead I found myself smiling and saying how interesting that is. Avery, our 10 year old daughter asks me questions about god and life and we have discussions and sharings. I have told her that if she wants to go to church or explore anything in particular that I will be more than happy to take her. Her response is "No, I believe in god. I'm good." Harper, our six year old daughter, just before Christmas this year told me, " I think I want to be part Jewish and part Christmas." When I asked her if this decision was based on increased presents, she smirked and giggled.
This shows me that at their different ages they have developing interest and organic understanding of where they stand and how they feel. It is so amazing and cool to behold their individuality and to see them each unfolding and blossoming so beautifully and perfectly. I am so interested in where each of their journeys of inquiry and experience will take them. When I was thirteen, I never would have,even in my wildest dreams, guessed that at forty I would be a mother, a dancer, a teacher, and surely not someone devoted to a spiritual life and path. And yet, here I am. Knowing that I evolved, expanded, and arrived at my true place gives me the courage to let them do the same. All the while I will be here to support them and love them through all the good and bad, the pleasant and unpleasant that that journey might bring.
Even if you don't have kids there is a lesson here. Trust that everyone is here exploring and evolving in life. There are as many ways to do that as there are stars in the heavens each shining and brilliant in their own way. The Dalai Lama says, " People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” How true this is and what a better world if we all had a basic respect for each other even when we feel different or don't agree. We all deserve respect and compassion.