By Mary Kretzmann
Today, it’s a wet winter Sunday at Ananda Village. The ponds are rising steadily (due to the rain, and melting snow) and this bodes well for the new farming projects in Ananda Village.
Peter Goering, an Ananda minister, gave an incredible talk on the physical cosmos in his Sunday Service talk. He outlined the known science, and described how contemplating this can be very expansive for the mind and spirit. He did a great job, so I won’t try to paraphrase. To see it, click here: (Feb 23, 2009) His wife, Marga Goering, begins the Sunday Service.
Besides the talk being very inspiring in it’s own right, it struck me for another reason, as well. My husband, Tim, and I have been parenting for 30 years and counting (our youngest is now in 11th grade). All along the way, we have been committed to keeping devotion to God alive and well in our kids, according to their natures. (I chronicled some thoughts on this in Part I of Finding God in the Heart of Your Family.)
Our kids were receptive to stories of the Masters and Saints, but even if they were not, then I would have started with science alone. For God is everywhere. One could inspire older children using a combination of the best science, and the best metaphysics, as described by a God realized Master. Let the wonder and expanse of scientific discoveries be a springboard to awe for all miracles of life. In any event, Peter Goering’s talk is a wonderful resource in this direction.
Our teen son, David, was there, so he saw it live. Is this because he wakes up on Sunday, and says, “Oh boy! I get to go to Sunday Service today!”? Dream on. We simply required that our kids go to at least one satsang, or spiritual event every week. We started that about 28 years ago when our daughter was very young. Luckily, there is now a Family Sunday Service at Ananda, but in the early days I would a take her to a kirtan, (spiritual chanting) for as long as she enjoyed it.
It has served us well to have this simple family rule. It eliminates fights. The kids knew what to expect, and even when we bent the rule, we didn’t eliminate it altogether. I remember when David was younger, piping up, “Can I go to Purification today?” That is another ceremony at Ananda, and it starts earlier on Sunday. We were surprised, until we realized that there was a King’s basketball game at 11 AM, and he wanted to be home on time to watch it! Since he was a big fan, we went along with that.
At other times David might choose one of Swami Kriyananda’s talks online. These talks are short, yet beautifully deep, with a balance of reason and devotion. Swamiji starts each one with a prayer and a mantra. Sometimes, when we simply need a “Sunday off”, we will watch one of these, and end with a healing prayer. If I did not have the blessing of living right here at Ananda Village, I would use this online resource every Sunday for my family.
This all gives variety, but there is value in being in a room with other devotees chanting, and meditating, so we prefer that our son join us for Sunday Service most of the time. The talks are interesting and inspiring. It can broaden the perspective of kids’ minds in their teen years, a crucial period for spiritual choices and development. As the years go by, I’ve come to feel this was among the more important spiritual choices we have made as parents, and it is simply part of the rhythm of our lives.
Swami Kriyananda on “Can Science and Religion be Reconciled?”