I’m often asked:
“How do you keep the kids away from the stoves? The altar? The candles?”
I don’t have an answer, because I don’t keep them away. We live in one large room, one tiny house; and my children run free within it. They know the stoves are hot, they’ve always known, because in their tiny-babyhood they’ve felt the heat from afar and watched the logs burn up through the open stove door. They respect the altar because it’s their holy place – a place for them to greet friends and set out gifts – it’s their altar as well as mine and they treat it as something special because it feels so special to them.
My altar isn’t as tidy as I’d like – pine cones, pretty stones, bird feather, and bits of modeling clay clutter it up – it’s a family altar, not a personal-mine-only-don’t-touch altar. When children worship they bring their whole worlds to Christ: “I brought this rock for Jesus, but then I thought the other saints would be sad so I brought more rocks!”
But really, yay!!!
Rocks are delightful! And my children are doing what they were made to do, meeting Christ at the altar and building a relationship there. Why would I sacrifice that for a minimalist-bohemian-curated look – however attractive. This is worship, not decorating after all.
And the whole of life is this way. Shunting these eager hands aside so they won’t knock over candlesticks or spill yet another cup of tea on the floor or accidentally sweep all the dust off the dustpan instead of on is never the answer! Kids are learning through immersion. They’re practically drowning in their own enthusiasm, and they just need the opportunity to catch on to things. So we make this little space our space. A space for all of us – big and small – to grow in wisdom, love, and understanding. We can’t do that until the barriers are down; until we’re all given an opportunity to immerse ourselves in life.
Yes, I keep an eye on my tiny helpers as they work near the stove. I remind them of safe habits just as I remind them to be gentle with the Infant of Prague’s twice-repaired head (both times were my fault!); but I don’t fence them off from the beautiful and essential things in our home, because in touching the beautiful and magical in their first, small world they learn to approach all the beautiful mysteries of life with reverence.
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Beautiful and so important.