Well, the youngest son is in bed, the eldest son is watching the Wiggles, and I finally have a chance of chat. You know, one of the primary reasons I think we have to go beyond the ancient monastic traditions is that celibate monks never had to base their practice around child rearing. They faced many challenges but parental distractions were not one of them. Just where do we find the time to take time out for prayer and contemplation?
Many meditation masters recommend twenty minutes, twice a day, but for many parents that sort of leisure can be a luxury. If I wait for a free twenty minute block I can go days without practice. As I have been keen to develop a more structured and rhythmical prayer and meditation practice of late I have found it important to relax expectations about how much time I should set aside. Five minutes a few times a day is more beneficial in the long run than twenty minutes once a week. And I still find twenty minutes on the odd occasion.
In all of this I am conscious of not judging the time I set aside, for to do so could risk projecting onto the kids and that will not do. Mediation should not be viewed as an end in itself – it is merely an aid to growing in Christ-likeness. And learning to love the kids in a Christ-like way is just as much a spiritual discipline as the most regular meditation practice. A holistic meditation approach needs to recognize Christian parenting as a complimentary discipline.