Free Admittance

"My high today is that we got to go see the Christmas lights"   "My low today was that my brother got hurt."
"My high today was spending time together as a family playing games."  "My low today was that people were not treating each other with respect earlier, and people ended up getting hurt."

Each night before bed, my family gathers together to share, to read, to talk, to pray, and to bless. We share the highs and lows of our day. Each one of us puts to words the best and the worst things from our days. Many days, the lows are mere disappointments, but some days they are weighty subjects - the weight lifted from the barer through sharing, talking, and praying. Each of my children don't hesitate to share, which is something I treasure. That my teenagers will freely admit to their darker feelings and experiences in the safety of our family circle is invaluable. That every teen would have such a safe, open place is my dream.

Our nightly circle is a safe space where there is no judgement, only listening. With no immediate intention to fix the lows, we recognize, understand, and pray about them. With no consequences, only helpful support for mistakes made, our children feel comfortable being open and honest. Discussion and support follow naturally afterwards, and our brains naturally work things out as we sleep. Sharing our best and our worst with each other creates compassion and understanding that lasts long after our evening ritual ends and extends beyond our family, into the world around us.

That our discussion is grounded in the Word, read after sharing and before talking, means a great deal to me. Often one of the children will think of a reading that might be helpful to someone's low or the "reading of the day" from whatever source we've chosen to use will shed some Light on things or offer a firm foundation for our discussion. 

We pray in so many ways. Some nights we pray for each other. Other nights we pray for loved ones, or those going through difficult times, or people on both sides of whatever tragedy has made the recent news. Occasionally the "one word prayer" makes an appearance, each family member contributing one word to the prayer until it is done. On those nights, laughter is often the outcome as we pray for zombie squid and homeless ants or somesuch. 

With a cross traced on their foreheads and the blessing, "Child of God, Jesus loves you and so do I!" our children drift off to sleep confident they are loved and valued. 

We share, read, talk, pray, and bless our way to healthy family relationships. Thanks to wonderful book, website, workshop, and conversations with Rich Melheim and others, this family ritual has grounded our family in faith, love, hope, and understanding. 


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