The Ginger Gent
“Wait” the Menace waved his hands before our meal commenced. “We have to do gratitude!” We use gratitude as an adjective and I have tried to communicate a lot of fundamental things by incorporating it into our sometimes hellish meals (which now seem to help.) However that day he called me out. I obediently put down my fork and looked at him to start our dinnertime rendition of grace. “Thank you for the farmers, thank you for the rain, thank you for the sun” and more recently more things outside of food like “thank you for my heart and I am thankful for you” etc.
As he made his way towards “Namaste” I could not help but be taken back to many years ago sitting at the dinner table with my Grandpa who was visiting my family. There was a pause, then he looked at me and said, “Kelly can say grace.” I remember looking at my mother with abject horror. She quickly covered for me and offered it back to him.
How do you do religion? How and why does one develop a personal sense of faith? Especially if those you are closest to do not visibly model those particular behaviours? I remember reading the little red New Testament Bible provided to me by my Anglican School in secret. Trying to figure out how the doctrine applied to me and how it was supposed to make me feel about myself.
Why the discomfort? Why the unfamiliarity? In our overly secular society I feel like for some people religion and spirituality are dirty words. Of course some understandably reject other faiths or the church. With a history like ours the impact of the Residential School System on our First Nations Community cannot be described as anything less than catastrophic.
The challenge is to separate spirituality from the people and the systems that destroyed ways of life. I looked on line however and found a link to a number of children’s books on the subject as well as a site with classroom activities on First Nations Culture and spiritual beliefs (ages 4 to 7). It looks wonderful to use at home, as well as demonstrating how I don’t believe a Thanksgiving can be held without acknowledging the reality of its implication.
In a prayer called The Web of Life, Chief Seattle says, “The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth…All things are connected like the blood that unites one family…We did not weave the web of life; We are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the Web, We do to ourselves.” It is these universal and ancient snippets of wisdom I want to share with my child: accountability, respect, interconnectivity and belonging.
This is how to begin explaining these things to The Ginger Menace, especially when I was preparing for Thanksgiving with my family. My family is United, or Christmas Christians who found ourselves at a service once a year. A tradition that gave way to time by middle school. After my father passed away when I was 19, I vividly recall my school minister, who had come about his funeral. She offered to pray with us, and just the same as before, I looked at my mother unsure as to what I was supposed to do and how she would handle it.
When I became a Reiki Master I found a system of beliefs that resonated with me. It’s very important for me to model faith and its importance to me. Like stress management, conflict management, and the value of money, I wanted to start The Menace early. I was worried about how to open that conversation about faith, but as I did my daily practices, my sons natural curiosity peeked. It makes me grateful when I hear him mumble a quick request like “please give me a good day”, or when I see him close his eyes and with palms together silently addressing something he feels is important.
Spirituality is not a religion, or a church or a book, they are just some of many spiritual tools. They are the trellis with which the vine reaches the sun. They are aspects of a spiritual life that are available to support you in your journey to see the beauty of life, to learn to love, to learn to forgive, to heal, to make peace with this world and find a sense of gratitude that is stronger than pain or loss or fear.
About the Author
Kelly Wilk is a freelance writer and single mom to a seven-year-old, red-headed, Irish, Aries boy who is growing up way too fast. Follow them on PinkPlayMags' parenting blog "The Ginger Gent" (www.pinkplaymags.com). Also, find Kelly on her own website and blog, Brave. Creative. Me at www.kellywilk.ca.