I’ve been thinking a lot about faith and religion lately. Until earlier this year I didn’t really feel like I belonged to any specific community. I had my faith, but it was my faith which kept me from fitting in to many more “mainstream” religions. And though I missed the community aspect, this wasn’t a big deal for me. Until I had Little Man.
It strikes me that by having no religion as such I am “going it alone” in terms of introducing the idea of faith and God and everything else to Little Man. There are very few resources available (that I have found) which offer suggestions and age-appropriate stories and games which could introduce the thoughts and ideas to him, without coming from a very specific religious background. And as I believe faith is unique and do not want to push any one path upon Little Man, this concerned me.
So I was immensely glad when I found out more about the Unitarians this year and that TJ has shown a real interest in Paganism. I guess these two come under the umbrella term of “religion” but still they don’t have the same religious concepts as many others do. The Unitarians believe you should actively seek your own experience and understanding of the Divine, whilst Paganism is such a varied path that to define a Pagan is quite challenging.
There is no “standard teaching”, no tagline which defines these two. And that is what makes me feel so comfortable with them. My own experience of faith and God has been that it cannot be squashed into any human terms, not fully. We can try to define the Divine in our own way and I think it is an important thing for us to do personally, but we cannot define it for another. For me, no one religion or person has the whole “truth”. We all find aspects of the Divine that are important and appropriate for us in our current circumstances. To me, God is so huge that to claim we know exactly who and what he is and what he wants from us is to limit the unlimitless.
But then, that is something I have come to understand over many years of experience and thinking. How do I express that very thing to Little Man? How do I show him that this is what mama believes, this is what daddy believes, but what he believes is more important for him? He isn’t old enough for that kind of understanding just yet. So where do we start?
And yet, when I think back I realise that religion didn’t really play a huge part in my early childhood either. My family weren’t religious. I heard the odd Bible story at school but that was about it. And yet I have always had this immense faith that God was there, I was never alone, and that there was a purpose and flow to everything even if I couldn’t see it at that time. This has obviously evolved and developed as I grew older, but the basis has always been there.
So maybe as children we are more aware of the Divine than we realise and faith develops anyway, whether we offer up teaching through a religion or not. Perhaps I need not worry so much about how and what to teach Little Man and just concentrate on living life through my own faith and seeing where that leads us.
What do you think? Do you belong to a religion? How do you/did you raise your children? What resources have you found which help you in this?