By Laura Seymour
As the school year comes to a close, we look back on how we have grown. With our little ones, it is easy to see the physical changes and even the intellectual and emotional growth can be observed.
But how do we teach our children to have faith and how can we measure spiritual growth? Talk with your children about wonder and, most importantly, talk about God. The ease with which young children talk will strengthen your own faith. Our children are indeed strengthening their roots and are growing strong.
As we enter the summer months and the pressures of the school year are over, take time to enjoy our natural world. Don’t let the heat, bugs or dirt keep you inside. When asked about times when we have felt God’s presence, most people talk about times in nature viewing the creation of God rather than looking at man’s creations.
When I was an 18-year-old counselor many years ago, I stood with my group at the Grand Canyon. Most of us experienced the wonder of the moment, but one young boy said, “It looks just like the train ride at Disneyland.” From that moment on, I was committed to giving children experiences to love the outdoors. Seeing the world with the fresh eyes of our children gives us faith that the world is a good place.
A story is told of a young student who questions Rabbi Akiba about the nature of faith. The rabbi brought the student over to a sprout in the ground and said, “Pull it up.” The student does so with little effort.
They walk on to a sapling and again Akiba says, “Pull it up.” This took more effort, but was done. And then on to a shrub which took all the student’s strength to uproot.
Finally, Rabbi Akiba takes the student to a fully grown tree, and, try as he might, the student could not move the tree.
Rabbi Akiba said, “That is also how it is with faith. If the roots of our faith are deep, if our religious views are mature and developed, our faith cannot be uprooted, even by someone trying very hard to do so. Always remember that the strength of your faith first depends on the strength of its roots.”
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and director of Jewish life and learning at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.