Faith is about more than mountaintop experiences.
Don’t get me wrong. I look back on my first thirty years of life with both a recognition of and appreciation for those moments where my feet stood upon the sacred ground of what Celtic spirituality calls a “thin place” – a place where heaven and earth appear to meet.
Those mountaintop experiences – “thin places,” if you will – formed and informed my journey of faith. But what of all those moments between the mountaintops, that came and went without any fanfare?
My point is this: while we all hope for the blessing of encountering God in the midst of mountaintop experiences, faith just as easily takes root in the fertile ground of the everyday, mundane, tabletop experiences, too.
In her new book Faithful Families, pastor and author Traci Smith provides a treasure-trove of family-friendly, low-and-no-budget activities that carry with them the power to turn even rushed meals and lazy Sunday afternoons into spiritual experiences. The text is a resource guide chock-full of creativity; perhaps it would read more naturally as a reference book – complete with a handy table of contents! – than it would be to read cover-to-cover.
Faithful Families is a revision of an earlier text entitled Seamless Faith – a book which I first read in a single sitting and which I have returned to regularly when planning activities at the church where I serve as a pastor for family ministry. Faithful Families is far from a simple reprint, however, thanks to the addition of several new practices and activities. I’m particularly grateful for the additional holiday activities, as well as the expansion of practices for the difficult moments of a family’s life.
Part one of the text sets out to provide families with inspiration to discover experiences of the sacred in the rhythm of daily living. Smith’s creativity is not limited solely to those everyday moments, however, and in my ministry as a family pastor, I actually appreciate her work just as much for the other sections of the text: celebrating the significant milestones of life; marking the difficult times; and a wealth of activities that aim to make spiritual practices accessible for any age.
Constructing a gratitude tree for the Thanksgiving holiday. A ceremony for welcoming a new pet into the family. Remembering a loved one after their death. Lifting up prayers in the age of the smartphone.
For these varied topics (and much more), readers will find helpful, step-by-step guides, not to mention a deeper awareness of the spiritual practices that undergird the activities.
And when a family finds that a given activity just isn’t a good fit for their context or needs, Smith includes ideas of variations that might make a practice more meaningful or manageable.
One’s faith can no doubt be nurtured at the pinnacle of a mountaintop. The presence of God is palpable in those moments! Thanks be to God.
But in Faithful Families, Traci Smith offers a great gift to busy families everywhere: accessible and achievable spiritual practices that bring awareness to the presence of God that is found in the midst of the everyday, mundane, tabletop moments too.
Thanks be to God, indeed.
Order your copy of Faithful Families today, online or at your local bookstore.
I'm grateful to Chalice Press, an imprint of Christian Board of Publication, for the invitation to be a part of the Faithful Families launch team and for sending an advance copy of the text.
I'm a husband, father, news junkie, theatre lover, enneagram enthusiast, bi advocate, amateur foodie, wannabe barista, and an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
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