We talk a lot about how to best bring up our children. We talk a lot about their diet, about their clothes, schooling, meaningful playtime and sleep patterns. We are continuously preoccupied with their self-esteem and skills development but we hardly ever address their spiritual side, hardly ever ask questions about it. I sometimes feel that it is almost a taboo to talk about spirituality for the fear of being recognised as a potential or practicing believer.
I am a practicing believer. I go to church. Once it was part of my cultural practice and upbringing (being brought up in a Catholic family with Catholic values), now it is my choice. I don’t feel constrained by my religion, I feel guided in some manner but not constrained. In fact I am often plagued with doubt but a few years ago a solid seed has been planted in me and now there is a tree growing there, a very healthy tree that supports my core and blossoms with my regular visits before God.
I belong to a gentle and a very balanced community built from people from all over the world: Europe, India, Nigeria, Brazil and the States, to name just a few. We are all there sitting in one church, connected before God, equal before God. It is a very powerful sensation. It is a very powerful understanding. I take my son to church and I think he sees what I am seeing. He sees and breathes this so powerful a statement of equality – for him there is no other world, no other world than the multicultural one, no other than the equal one.
I have got friends of all religions and persuasions, in fact my best friends are of different persuasions to mine but it does not prevent us valuing each other’s friendship or having deep conversations on the topics related to believing, disbelieving and non-believing. Our ability to develop different views and feelings related to the metaphysical is what makes us so wonderfully multidimensional. I want my son to be able to position himself towards the metaphysical with as much knowledge and experience as he can get himself, and as much understanding as I can offer him and so I take him to church (I know that there are other ways, but that is mine). Someone told me once that they stopped attending church because church should be for the people and not people for the church. The main message that I get from the place that I go to is not that people are for the church but that people are for the people. That people are for the people. This is what I would like my son to take with him.
We are very fortunate to live in a multicultural and multi-faith city. The city which totally overwhelmed me when I first arrived here, the city which I am totally indebted to for making me open-minded and curious of differences, and as many British cities this one is also great at coexistence but would definitely benefit from more face-to-face dialogue. I don’t know how it is in schools these days, but I know what it looks like in playgrounds and play spaces. Mums gravitate towards those that look like them. How about breaking that habit? How about initiating conversations that join us together? Getting to know that lonely-sitting, iphone-flicking everymama? Where she’s from, what she values and most importantly why she is alone.