Having a young toddler of my own, I see how impactful large, grandiose, epic stories are. When you can lean forward and connect with a child’s imagination, it’s incredible what kind of transformative effect you can have.
Right now, with her, it’s goblins. She’s obsessed with goblins.
She loves being kinda scared. A good story makes her lean forward and engage with life. She lights up and comes alive with them. It’s much different than if I just… tell her something.
Just think of it when you were a kid… Santa Claus. The Tooth Fairy. The evil Christmas all-seeing elves. Elvis Prestley. The Easter Bunny. All of these — epic stories that connect with us on a deep level.
And (of course)… God.
I was raised Catholic-ish. Nothing too intense, but I definitely grew up with the story of an anthropomorphic deity in the clouds being up there (and at the same time, in my head/soul) examining me.
Latching on to this story may have held me back in some ways — namely via unneeded doses of guilt, shame, insecurity, etc. — but in the same vein, looking back, I believe that it forced me to carry myself through my young life in a more introspective manner.
I was raised with just enough religion to keep my imagination on its toes but not so much that I rebelled against it.
I was nicer to people, I had a cleaner mouth (at least, as far as my parents knew), and I got in less trouble in general — all in the name of G-o-d (bad word these days, I know, so we must spell it out so the kids don’t start using it).
Today, I’m not a big G-o-d guy. Like with Santa Claus, I just don’t believe in that man in the clouds. With a belly button (weird, I know).
He and I didn’t have a bad breakup. It didn’t scar me for life (thankfully). We just… Parted ways. Just like with the jolly old man from the North Pole. No hard feelings.
In my middle-life (no, I will not say that I’m middle-aged yet), I’ve abandoned the angry old man in the clouds for a type of all-encompassing Presence. An omnipotent intelligence and Life Force that is both personal and impersonal at the same time. This Force does not have a specific gender — it tends to morph depending on how I’m relating to it at the time.
Although I no longer believe in the god from my childhood, I’ve managed to keep some semblance of a guiding/supportive Presence in my life (yes, this one is way nicer) that I can commune with whenever I want/need. And how handy it’s been.
I write this because I’m working with more younger people these days and am noticing something… There’s not a whole lot of introspection going on in the younger generations. Like, at all…
I’m just seeing that a lot of teens — many of them raised in secular families — seem to be so über-practical that they only see what’s directly in front of them. It’s rampant outside-in thinking and they’re overwhelmed because the logical mind, as powerful as it is, can only handle so much at once. Everything is coming AT them. From friends and grades and test scores to sex and military and college and jobs and second jobs and futures and sports and extracurriculars and hobbies and hormones and emotions and weird thoughts and society and the news and social media and Trump and Hillary and #FeelingTheBern and Pokemon and…
Damn, I’m getting stressed just writing about it.
It’s just that they (no, I’m not speaking for ALL of them, calm down) seem to be lacking that baseline of imagination, creativity, resourcefulness, and insight that can only come from the land of — dare I say it, Spirit — the place of the unknown-to-the-logical-mind within.
I don’t know if religion could help in this inner-department with today’s youth. I actually kinda doubt it. I just don’t think our society of today supports it enough (plus, overdoing it seems to have an inverse effect — and we humans always tend to overdo it).
I’m not saying I’m some shining beacon of moral/behavioral perfection. But I just remember, back when I was a kid, and I was dealing with something tough (and yes, I had to deal with some heavy sh*t when I was a young man), I’d… pray. I’d go within and communicate with something (at the time, I thought it was a ‘someone’) that seemed to… help.
I never was a huge believer, but this thing called ‘faith’ came pretty easily to me and has followed me to this day.
Is this because of my quasi-religious upbringing? Would I have been the same had I been raised in a more secular family? I honestly don’t know.
Was/is it a story I’ve been making up all along? Like a Santa Claus or an Easter Bunny?
Did my parents blatantly lie to me about this deity that was supposedly ruling over me?
Was I naive to believe — and still believe — in this thing called G-o-d, even though that story has grown and changed along the way?
But it’s a story that’s served me well, I think — yes, in very tangible ways.
Maybe we should think twice before throwing out the baby with the bath water when it comes to spirituality.
I don’t really know what we’ll do with Rory.
I just know that, with kids, epic stories and mythologies are the very best ways to get important messages through. This is how we humans communicate — especially when we’re kids. But we manage to condition ourselves away from it when we’re older. This is why the god of practicality and logic makes so much sense to us adults. Because this is how we operate now. We’ve been dulled by the world of time clocks and TV dinners and balance sheets and fast cars and loan payments and divorces and nightly news.
I want to tell Rory a story. A story of her soul. An epic one. One that gets her back in touch with her innate inner guidance.
I don’t think it’ll be a strict religious, dogmatic, guilt-laden, judgmental, insecure one. But I think one of Spirit is nice. This is her language. This is our innate language as kids.
Can you hear it now?
Tell me a story.