In the fall, school accelerates the speed of parenting life. I can easily be overwhelmed. My spiritual practice evaporates, and I feel as if life is happening to me. In the busy clutter, tiny things can help.
Since co-authoring 12 Tiny Things: Simple Ways to Live a More Intentional Life (Broadleaf Books, 2021) I’ve enjoyed helping others cultivate a micro-spiritual practice, doing one thing a day on purpose and with great attention. Over time, our tiny practice empowers us to embrace simplicity and intentionally co-create a life with God. We can grow deeper roots rather than reaching our branches wider toward inevitable depletion and exhaustion.
Parents often put spiritual practice on a pedestal or think of it as “extra” when it’s actually for us—and may, in fact, be central to our thriving. We think it must look a certain way or that only certain things “count.” We think we don’t have time or don’t know where to begin. We want to support our kids in claiming a spiritual practice while avoiding it for ourselves. Yet we know the best way to support a spiritual practice for our kids is to grow one ourselves and model it.
This season, I hope other parents will join me in trying something offensively small.
One of my tiny things is to go outside at some point every day and look up at the sky. This takes only a few moments and requires me to get into nature. Every time I do it as spiritual practice, I remember that the universe is vast and beautiful, and that I am small. It rightly situates me in the web of life: God is God, and I am not. I take a deep breath, relax my shoulders, unclench my jaw and return to my day with a renewed sense of ease, space and gratitude. Over time, that tiny seed takes root and grows. Sometimes at my invitation but often on their own, my kids join me, and we notice the beauty of the sky together.
This fall, while building a new routine around the school day, do one tiny thing a day with your children or with the kids in your life. Name it “spiritual practice.” Ask God to join you in the small moments and marvel at what takes root.
- Hold your cup with both hands while drinking your morning beverage. Don’t multitask. Take a few sips, using all your senses. Greet your day, give thanks and invite your kids to do the same.
- Choose a “gratitude staircase” in your home. Offer thanks to God aloud with your kids while climbing or descending the stairs.
- Take three slow, full, conscious breaths at some point in your day. Acknowledge the Spirit, the life force that flows through you, connecting your inner world to the vast and holy universe.