spiritual journey of children

The spiritual journey of children and nurturing spirituality in children is examined by Joseph Pierce in his book Magical Child. Children perform magical acts. He theorized that our acculturation process disrupts a natural million-year old program in our children that is extremely valuable, especially at a critical age, around 13 to 16.  He describes how children are known to do things that seem magical at that age.

The Child’s Journey: Hara in Children

spiritual journey of childrenFor instance, there was a time when Yuri Geller, the famous psychic, performed on television around the world: He would bend knives and forks with his psychic powers.  Pierce was uninterested in whether Geller was a charlatan or not, but he focused only on what effect Geller’s activities had on children at that critical age.  One of those children was a little Japanese girl.  When a researcher threw bits of wire into the air, she’d feel a buzzing sensation in her hara, giggle, and the wire would hit the ground with her name written in it.  (Remember how intricate those Japanese characters are). He was fascinated by the unusual manifestations that take place in the spiritual journey of children.

The Spiritual Journey of Children

spiritual journey of childrenThe Spiritual Child, by Lisa Miller, another book on the spiritual journey of children, stresses the need for children to work with their natural, genetic disposition toward spirituality, because it will be critical to the formation of “spiritual individuation”, which can occur in adolescence.  She argues that the depression so common in teens is there because they’re suddenly faced with the Big Questions of life: Who am I?  Why am I here?  When they cannot find answers that make sense, that can and often does lead to depression.  She considers this normal, not mental illness.  According to her, success in meeting this depression, rather than trying to avoid it, leads to much greater happiness as an adult.  The subtitle of the book is The New Science on Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving.

Joseph Campbell, the “myth guy”, discussed in detail the hero’s journey.  It seems to me that’s what Lisa Miller is describing.  Our teens are naturally on a hero’s journey, whether they intend it or not, and the outcome of that journey will affect them for the rest of their lives.  (I still find it ironic that my novel starts with a hero’s journey instead of ending with one).

Nurturing Spirituality in Children

In the early part of The Spiritual Child, Miller demonstrates how parents can encourage their children’s natural, genetically-endowed spirituality.  She tells the story of a mom who reluctantly agrees to explore an empty church with her five year old daughter.  Mom is tired, and she needs to get home to get supper started, and… you know how she’s feeling.  But she goes anyway, and her daughter’s enthusiasm and many questions turn the event into a fascinating journey.  She ends up describing the occasion as “an exquisite experience”. She was nurturing the spiritual journey of children

Madame Montessori, whom I consider one of the Wise Women of Western culture, advocated taking young children into empty churches, synagogues, temples, etc.  She felt it was important to the child’s journey. 

bookIn my novel, Into Light and Shadow, Steve has a natural inclination to include his children in his new, sometimes scary spiritual journey, even though he feels vulnerable doing so. That proves in the long run to be a boon for both dad and kids.