One of the number one questions I hear when I talk about how to incorporate faith practices into daily life is, “I would love to do that . . . if only we had the time.” My answer is always, “I think you do have the time, you just don’t know it.”
For one, there are many practices that take anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes to do. That’s not a lot of time. Surely any family can find 10 minutes hiding somewhere for such an important purpose.
Need help thinking of where those minutes might be hiding? Try these ideas:
In the car — On the one hand, time in the car is often harried and hectic, running from here to there. It can be stressful. On the other hand . . . there’s a captive audience there! I include an idea for a listening practice that can be done in the car in my book, Seamless Faith, but there are many other practices that can happen while you get from point A to point B. In time, car rides might transform into something more meaningful.
Just before bed — I love the line from A New Zealand Prayer Book: “What’s been done has been done, what has not been done has not been done. Let it be.” The end of the day is a natural time for spiritual practice. Most often we think of bedtime prayers, but it can also be a time for blessings, for hymn singing, for meditation or for the daily examen. Even five minutes before saying goodnight to the earliest to go to bed can be a way to connect.
Around the dinner table — Family dinners can be a challenge to organize and pull off. Take advantage of the accomplishment and use it as a time for spiritual practice. Light a candle in the center of the table. Make it a sacred meal.
First thing in the morning — This is a time that absolutely does not work for my family (so far) but I’ve heard other families talk about how the beginning of the day, before getting everyone off to school or work is, indeed, a time where everyone seems to be focused and ready to start their day with a spiritual focus. Give it a try.
Holidays — The word holiday is from the Old English “Holy Day.” Why not try to honor the spirit of these holy days? Read a passage about love from the Bible on Valentine’s Day, do a gratitude practice on Thanksgiving Day before the football game starts, remember the blessings of the past year on January first. Ten minutes of the day, every year, and a strong tradition is born.
Other “out of the ordinary” days — There are many “mark the moment” days that seem to slip through our fingers. Before long, entire years have zoomed past. Families can mark these moments through meaningful spiritual practices — first day of school, leaving home, graduation, moving, a new pet. Each of these days is an opportunity for a practice.
Traci Smith is the author of Seamless Faith. She has a master of divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and is pastor of Northwood Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas, where she lives with her husband and two sons. This blog post is provided thanks to our partnership with Practicing Families.
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