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‘Every Season Sacred’ author Kayla Craig joins the PC(USA)’s ‘Around the Table’ podcast

When we pray and worship with children, ‘We don’t have to talk to God in some sort of fancy voice or fancy language’

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Kayla Craig describes her family’s dinner table as “absolute chaos, but it’s a great kind of chaos.”

The latest book from the former journalist and mother of four is “Every Season Sacred: Reflections, Prayers, and Invitations to Nourish Your Soul and Nurture Your Family Throughout the Year.” Craig was the guest recently of the Rev. Michelle Thomas-Bush and the Rev. Cliff Haddox on the “Around the Table” podcast, an initiative of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Office of Christian Formation. Listen to their 21-minute conversation here.

Craig said she wrote “Every Season Sacred,” which she describes as an account of what it looks like “to live a flourishing, messy, wonderful life together,” because “I wanted something that would tend to my soul and then help me tend to the soul of people around me.”

“It’s this both/and — caring for yourself and having something stick with you as you care for others,” she told the hosts. “I tell people it’s like drag and drop: Pick one. You know your kids the best. You know the vibe of the table the best. Pick one or two, whatever works, and just talk about it. Use it in a way that creates rhythm in your family, something that’s sustainable and that works for you.”

Thomas-Bush asked Craig about how families can be introduced to praying “if you’re not a family who has prayed before meals?”

“There are no perfect words. Prayer can look a lot of different ways,” Craig said. “We don’t have to talk to God in some sort of fancy voice or fancy language. If you don’t know what to pray, you can borrow these words and pray these and make them your own.”

Haddox wondered, “How do we help the parents who don’t have a theological education when something goes into an area that might be a little awkward or uncertain?”

“That’s what I’ve been wrestling with too,” Craig replied. “As grownups, we kind of unlearn our innate curiosity.” Children often ask great questions “because they haven’t learned to put up their guards,” she said. “I feel like when my kids ask these creative, thoughtful, difficult questions, my job is not to give them the right answer.” Instead, she suggests entering “into curiosity with them” by responding, “That’s a great question. I wonder that too. Let’s wonder it together. Let’s dive in.”

“That’s where I start, anyway,” Craig said. Making that space “where kids can ask questions about lots of different things furthers this kind of sacred curiosity.”

Kayla Craig (Contributed photo)

An around-the-table practice Craig has found helpful is creating spiritual rhythms, “trying to integrate habits and rhythms throughout our days where we are exploring and making space to listen, an important part of prayer — not just using our words but having space to be with God and to be involved in our communities.”

“I think that’s all part of having a faith that holds up when hard things happen,” Craig said. “That gives us a compass for when we see injustice and when our kids ask about violence and war and suffering in their personal life. I think those rhythms and habits we can enter into strengthen our souls.”

Parents and caregivers sometimes think a rhythm they create “has to look like this, and if it doesn’t, then I’ve failed as a parent and my kids are not going to have spiritual formation,” Craig said. “The rhythms of our life can ebb and flow, and they look different in different seasons.”

Liturgies that can be said with children vary with the child. Craig’s younger son always responds with, “I will rejoice and be glad in it!” when she tells him, “This is the day the Lord has made.”

“That’s not going to happen with my 13-year-old,” she said.

In her book, Craig offers conversation-provoking questions that can be asked around the table. “One that hooked me,” Thomas-Bush said, is, “How are you formed by the people around you?”

Craig said she created the questions “because in the moment it’s hard to come up with something thoughtful besides, ‘How was your day?’ or ‘Did you have a good day?’ Those conversations go nowhere.” A child given space and time to think about how they’ll answer a thoughtful question might chime in with, “Some of my friends have been kind of mean, and now I’m being kind of mean,” Craig said. “There’s space to reflect on how we’re constantly being formed.”

One practice her family falls back on is “distilling highs and lows. It helps us do almost a mini examen,” Craig said. “What did happen in my day? It’s funny, because my kids will say, ‘Nothing. I can’t think of any high.’ Then it’s, ‘Oh, we got to go to the planetarium. I totally forgot. It was so cool!’ Or they have space to share hard things that happened.”

“I’m just trying to resource people where they are,” Craig said to wrap up the conversation, “as you guys are doing, too.”

Kayla Craig’s “Liturgies for Parents” is available on Instagram here. Click here to visit her website.

Listen to other editions of the Lilly Endowment-funded initiative of the PC(USA)’s “Around the Table” podcast here.

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