The Lessons We Teach Our Children

Tiny things matter...

I’m working my way through some elective reading, just for fun, in the early morning hours of the day before it’s too scandalous to linger in pajamas with my nose in a book. One of the greatest blessings of life at 56 is the fact that you get to mostly be the boss of what hour of the day PJ-wearing is pushing the limits.

Lately, I’ve been spending time with the work of Brian Doyle. Sadly, I never met him before his death at 60. His body of work is something you either love or hate or by which you are confounded. Personally, the more I read of Doyle, the more I fall in love with it.

Today, a line in his essay “Third Order of Saint Francis: A Note” from Eight Whopping Lies and Other Bruised Stories of Grace struck me with such emotion that I couldn’t help but share it here:

“Probably the best lessons we teach our children are not the ones for which we use words; perhaps those are the lessons the children never forget.”

I savored this quote in my prayer time from dual perspectives: from the heart of a girl, desperately missing her still-living mother and from that of a mother who continually learns important lessons from her now-grown sons. I pondered a few of those lessons that have taught me the most from my teachers—old and young—and recognized how right Doyle is.

Inspired by Brian Doyle’s quote “Probably the best lessons we teach our children are not the ones for which we use words” - what lessons will I learn and teach today? Click To Tweet

These days, we seem to be swimming in words. Even the very act of me feeling I need to type up this post and share it for the world (or some tiny sliver of it) to read here proves the point. Will my children read these words? Unlikely. Do I remember specific “lectures” eloquently delivered to me by my mother? Not really.

True learning in my life right now comes most potently amidst the daily stuff of loving. It comes in tiny, imperceptible moments, in loads of laundry and in dog walks and in cat selfies and in Scottish tunes composed in the wee hours and in homemade dinners cooked for your bride and in submitting to being served by others when you’ve always been so self sufficient. Doyle, I’m pretty sure, didn’t mean that we should never use words - he made his life sharing them. I think what I’ve learned from Brian today is to pay closer attention to the lessons taught with the least fanfare - to savor them and to give thanks for them.

A question to ponder: What lesson will find its way into my life today? How will it change the person I hope to become.

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