I write this as I try to process the events of the past days where racial tension has hit new heights in the US, where a terrorist attack happens at least twice a week world-wide and politics are as ugly as I can ever remember. We are delusional if we think that our children are immune from the tension we are all experiencing. Whether your household is one where the news is openly talked about or whether you try your best to shelter your children from upsetting events, your children and grandchildren are affected.
1) Calm yourself. Pray, meditate, talk to a close friend, work out … do whatever helps you to calm down. Your child and grandchild will “feed” off of your tension. The more calm and peaceful your souls is, the more calm and peaceful your child’s soul will be.
2) Pray. In times like this, we sometimes struggle with prayer. It is difficult to center ourselves because we feel upset. It is difficult to find words to express our fear and pain. Lighting a candle of love and forgiveness and sitting still for a few minutes will give you time to remember that God is there with you and with your children and grandchildren! Perhaps we don’t need words right now, as much as we need to listen. Invite your child to do this simple prayer with you. They need the quiet and peaceful rest as much as you do.
3) Listen More than You Talk. The fact is, there are no easy answers so don’t try to give easy answers in an attempt to make things “better” for your child. Rather, give your children clay, crayons and paper and let them express themselves. Trust that they will express non-verbally what they need to let out. Then if they want to talk about what they have created, great. If not, remember that the sacred space you create by sitting quietly as your child expresses their feelings creates a sacred space where God is present. “Where two or more are gathered, there I will be.”
4) Do Something Concrete. Christ told us to “love one another as he loved us.” Love is not something we think about and ponder, it is something we do. Love is active, it is alive! Bake cookies to share, write letters to elected officials, form a “think tank” at your church or in your community to come up with something concrete to do to work for love. The best gift you can give your child is to form an intentional friendship with children different from themselves. Invite other parents and grandparents to meet weekly and let the children play together. Actively decide to form deep and lasting relationships between your families.
5) Get Outside. God is so creative. Look at all of the different flowers, birds and shades of green, brown and blue. We cannot think creatively sitting in our houses and staring at news stories being replayed every fifteen minutes. Take a walk with your child, go to a playground and let the creativity of God surround you and infuse your soul. Let God inspire you to do something, to change your opinion, and perhaps to challenge your old thoughts and prejudices.
6) Meditate Deeply on the Cross. While the resurrection of Christ is such an amazing gift, even more amazing to me is the fact that, while being so deeply physically and emotionally wounded, he forgave. The hurts caused by the racism and division in our society wound deeply. Can we forgive? Can we stay loving as we struggle to make peace? The cross will show us the way.