Cultivating a Sense of Reverence in your Family Home

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Reverence is a fundamental spiritual quality that enables us to connect with the divine and experience a sense of awe and wonder in the world around us. The way we practice reverence is shaped by cultural norms and our inherited value set. It can vary widely across different peoples, cultures and traditions.

Yet, evidence suggests that the capacity for reverence may be an innate and universally human quality. Ancient burial sites, indicating reverent and sacred rituals for the dead, have been dated as far back as 120,000 years ago by archeologists. And, as parents and educators know, very young children frequently experience wonder. Reverence is a fundamental human emotion or experience. 

Studies have shown that the experience of reverence can positively affect our psychological well-being.  increase feelings of awe and transcendence, provide greater life satisfaction and significantly reduce stress levels.

 

 

There are many ways to model reverence in the home

  • creating and maintaining warm, inviting, beautiful and harmonious living spaces with natural materials and soft lighting.
  • making space for daily verses, songs, and stories that honour the natural world, the changing seasons and human spirituality 
  • fostering a connection with nature by getting outside every day, taking up a “sit spot” practice or observing and caring for plants and animals
  • encouraging mindfulness and gratitude by expressing gratitude for little moments,  following a meditation practice, praying together as a family or writing in a gratitude journal
  • modelling humility and a willingness to acknowledge the limitations of our understanding or knowledge
  • seeking out experiences that inspire awe, such as listening to moving music, watching a sunset or hiking in a national park
  • encouraging and making space for wonder by contemplating questions before looking for answers, talking at length about things we’re interested in at the dinner table or taking the time and space to admire something you find beautiful or moving

Rhythm, routine, and ritual can support families to cultivate practicing reverence in several ways:

  • Order, structure, stability and security help family members to feel more grounded and centred
  • rhythms and routines create a sense of continuity which help us feel more connected to the larger web of life and cultivate a sense of reverence for our interconnectedness
  • by providing a framework for our personal spiritual practices, such as meditation, prayer, journalling or mindfulness
  • via seasonal celebrations like religious holidays, honouring or marking the changing of the seasons, or engaging in other sacred practices. 

There are many studies on “the science of awe” and its benefits for our well-being (see below).

Although I am not a member of a specific religious institution, I often turn to God, my faith, the Angels + the potent energy all around me for guidance, comfort and peace.

I hope that modelling this spiritual intimacy for my children inspires them to foster their own relationship with something higher than themselves as they mature.

My sense of reverence has filled me with strength and hope during my soul’s darkest and brightest nights.

If you’re a more secular family, I would begin by working with the following reflection questions:


How would I describe my personal sense of reverence, awe and wonder?

Where do I experience these feelings? Do I have a regular practice that allows me to experience a sense of awe and wonder regularly? 

Why or why isn’t it important for me to pass this practice on to my children?

References for Further Exploration:

The Science of Awe from UC Berkeley 

How a Bit of Awe can Improve your Health from NY Times

The Thrilling New Science of Awe– Dacher Keltner’s book and talk with OnBeing

Assessing Reverence in Contexts from Research Gateway

Cultivating Reverence (a Waldorf Perspective) from We Nurture

Meagan Wilson is a parent educator and author of the now-retired seasonal series of Whole Family Rhythms. After finishing a BA, she went on to complete her Foundations in Steiner Education and Anthroposophy at Sydney Steiner College, as well as her Waldorf Early Childhood Certification at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. She has received her certification as a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach and has supported hundreds of parents to create a strong family rhythm unique to their own values and culture. She has four young children. Meagan provides resources, support and information to parents who are looking for a bridge to cross between their unique family life and their children’s (often but not always) Waldorf schools.

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