Seeking Spiritual Growth…We are among the first people
in human history
who do not broadly inherit
religious identity as a given.
The very fluidity of this,
the possibility of choices that arise,
the ability to craft and discern
one’s own spiritual bearings,
is not leading to a decline in spiritual life,
but to its revival.
The growing universe
of the non-religious
is one of the most spiritually vibrant
and provocative aspects of modern life.
It is not a time
when spiritual life is absent,
resisting religious excesses
Times are wild
with spiritual passion and delving
and theological curiosity
with expressions in unexpected places
in unexpected ways.
Many people continuing to go to church
do not even know their own tradition,
keeping on with simple inertia.
They have lost touch with
the Desert Fathers and Mothers,
the visionaries like Benedict, Francis, or Ignatius,
whose spirituality emerged
at a distance from a Church
that had grown imperial,
and inwardly cold,
out of touch
with its own spiritual core.
At the same time,
people outside these religious spaces
seem intensely interested in spiritual questions
trying to think and work and live through them.
More and more people
are unwilling to commit themselves
to the dying religious institutions
yet are actively pursuing
in life’s everyday experiences.
There is love;
there is hope.
It is wondrous what a hug can do.
A hug can cheer you when you are blue.
A hug can say, “I love you” or
Gee, I hate to see you go.
A hug is , “Welcome back again”
A hug can soothe a small child’s pain
and bring a rainbow after the rain.
THE HUG. There is no doubt about it,
We scarcely could survive without it.
A hug delights and warms and charms,
It must be one of the reasons God gave us arms.
Hugs are great for fathers and mothers,
Sweet for sisters, swell for brothers. And…
Chances are some favorite aunts love them more than potted plants!
Kittens crave them, Puppies love them.
Heads of State are not above them.
A hug can break the language barrier,
And make the dullest of days see, Merrier.
No need to fret about the store of ’em,
The more you give, the more there are of ’em.
So stretch those arms without delay
And give someone a hug today.
BRINGING CHILDREN BACK TO THEMSELVES
There has been plenty of hand-wringing in recent years about the “overscheduled child.” With after-school hours increasingly dominated by piano lessons, soccer practice, and countless other planned activities, many of us have a nagging sense that kids are missing out on something important if they have no time for unstructured play.
New research from Germany suggests these fears are justified. It finds people who recall having plenty of free time during childhood enjoy high levels of social success as adults.
A team of three psychologists from the University of Hildesheim, led byWerner Greve, conducted a survey of 134 people. Participants were presented with a list of seven statements and reported the degree to which they conformed with their own childhood experiences (that is, ages three to 10).
FREE PLAY ALLOWS CHILDREN TO DEVELOP THE FLEXIBILITY NEEDED TO ADAPT TO CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES AND ENVIRONMENTS—AN ABILITY THAT COMES IN VERY HANDY WHEN LIFE BECOMES UNPREDICTABLE AS AN ADULT.
The statements included, “Looking back, I tried many things and experimented a lot by myself”; “From time to time, I set out on my own or with friends to discover the neighborhood”; and “My parents always were in fear that something could happen to me, so they did not let me do many things by myself.”
They also expressed their level of agreement or disagreement with 10 statements designed to measure “social success.” These included “Friends come to me for advice”; “My work is appreciated by others”; and “If something goes wrong, I have friends by my side that support me.”
Additional tests measured their ability to be flexible in light of life’s setbacks, and their overall level of self-esteem.
The researchers found a significant positive correlation between ample time for free play during childhood and adult social success. Free time as kids was also linked with high self-esteem and the flexibility to adjust one’s goals.
While “it goes without saying that child play is not the sole, nor perhaps even the most important predictor of social success … the correlation we found in this study was surprisingly high,” the researchers write in the online journal Evolutionary Psychology.
Free play, they argue, allows children to develop the flexibility needed to adapt to changing circumstances and environments—an ability that comes in very handy when life becomes unpredictable as an adult.
So parents may want to make sure their kids have the time and freedom to play and explore at their own pace. Tutoring and mentoring can be terrific, but as this research reminds us, there are many types of learning experiences—and some of the least formal can pay off later in life.