Liturgy of Connection
We walk the good path that leads to intimacy with God and deep, healthy relationships with those whom we love when we listen with curiosity, speak with vulnerability, and act with humility. There is a liturgy to our rituals, a liturgy that is flexible and adaptive to the changing seasons of our family life.
The liturgy that characterized my grandmother’s marriage and her family in the 1930’s is very different than the liturgy necessary for modern marriages and families. Our liturgies need to grow and change as we grow and change and as our families grow and change. In the Baby Boomer generation, frequently the place to be seen, safe, soothed, and secure was around the family table where reliability was built around sharing meals together. That’s a little harder to pull off in today’s family with kids involved in after-school activities and athletics.
But no matter how busy our lives get, we have to remember: every human being (including the human beings who live in our houses) needs reliable trustworthy access to the people who care about them and whom they care about, a safe place to really listen and really talk about things that are important, and warm affection. These needs haven’t changed just because our world has become more complex. These needs remain part of the reality of our relational life. Yet anything that is ritual or routine or reliable can be difficult to maintain in a complex world. But there is no complexity in life that changes God’s love for us. And if we want to model that love, sometimes we need to stop what we’re doing to really listen to our children. Sometimes we need to close the computer and really listen to our spouses.
If you can’t imagine carving out 30 minutes for a stress-reducing conversation (see Wednesday’s Connecting through Conversation and Thursday’s Connecting through Listening), then maybe you could find a way to make hello/goodbye really special for everyone in your family – have a special ritual for walking your toddler into preschool and saying goodbye until later, then putting your phone away when you return to say hello so that you can fully listen to his/her experience while you were apart; make sure everyone in the family gets a hug and a kiss before they leave the house and an attentive ear when they return; be creative and make hello/goodbye something special. To learn more about rituals of connection and why they are so important, check out the Gottman blog http://www.gottmanblog.com/sound-relationship-house/2014/10/28/create-shared-meaning-examining-your-rituals.
And while you’re making these small changes, remember that there is no place in life out of which the good path cannot be chosen.