Back in September, I was out one afternoon in our little London garden with Kaya and Oskar. We were picking cherry tomatoes from our three plants that had gone a little crazy in the sunny spot we had picked for them and were producing tomatoes at a ridiculous rate.
As I stood there listening to Kaya remind me sternly to only pick the red ones, I had a sudden thought that maybe I should be bringing God into this activity. Nevermind that God is rarely mentioned outside songs in my daily conversation with her, I decided this was a good moment for it.
“Kaya,” I said, “we should say thank you to God for giving us so many red tomatoes this year.”
“No, thank you to Granny,” she immediately answered confidently.
Well, yes. I guess Granny was the one to grow these particular plants from seed in her greenhouse and then drive them over to our garden and plant them in this spot with Kaya’s enthusiastic support. Not quite knowing how to respond, I just mumbled something affirming and let it go.
I don’t know how to talk about God with my toddler. Yes, I grew up in an active Christian family, attending church every week, going away to multiple Christian festivals and camps as I grew up. And yes, I’ve been writing and preaching about my faith for many years now. But now my little girl is reaching the age where a conversation is very possible, I just don’t know where to start.
This is my confession: it feels awkward and unnatural. Anytime I attempt it, it feels cheesy and random.
Partly, that is because I’ve been going through my own faith deconstruction and reconstruction the past years – no sudden or earth-shaking loss of faith and rediscovery, just a slow and gradual unpicking and restitching together of the faith of my childhood. In the midst of that uncomfortable but liberating process, I’m even less sure where to begin.
I want for my children to grow up with a full and beautiful connection with the spiritual world, with the God who created them and loves them dearly. I want them to be familiar with Jesus and the stories he told, the vision of peace and connection he lived out. I want them to feel connected with the natural world, to stand in awe of the intricacy and beauty of it all. I want them to recognise that there is no dividing line between sacred and secular, that there are thin places everywhere, holy ground ever under our feet.
I want to give them roots, the kind that will provide a stable foundation for their work and relationships, that will see them through the drought of doubt and suffering, that will feed and sustain their souls.
And I want to give them wings. I want the faith I pass down to be flexible enough that they feel free (as I have) to grow into their own understanding of God, themselves and the world, their own rich relationship with the Divine. I want them to enjoy exploring the spiritual world. I want to learn from them.
And so I am committing to starting a journey this year, a journey of being intentional about how I talk about and enact spiritual themes and realities in our lives as a family.