Editor’s note: This post is part of “Counting the Gifts of Ignatian Spirituality.”
Ignatian spirituality encourages us to notice what is right in front of us. That’s one of the things I love about it. When St. Ignatius wrote about finding God in all things, he was essentially giving us an invitation to see daily life with new eyes. We don’t have to invent complicated, fancy new ways to inject God into our daily routines; Ignatian spirituality helps us recognize how God is already there, all the time.
And this makes it a perfect spirituality for families. If you feel (as I often do) that life is already so full that you can’t imagine adding one more thing to the mix, don’t worry; Ignatian spirituality fits beautifully into even the busiest routine. Here are two quick, Ignatian-inspired practices to encourage you and your family members to recognize God’s constant, dynamic presence.
1. Three Things
If I were to ask, “Name three things today that made you happy,” what would you say? If I were to ask, “Name three little things today that made you happy,” what would you say?
Either question is great to discuss as a family. Whether you do so over the dinner table or in the car on the way home from school, nearly everyone can think of three things that made the day better. It’s always revealing to add in the adjective “little,” as it can encourage us to think beyond the more obvious things (friends, health, home) and notice the smaller things we don’t often register in the moment. The friend who shared his chips at recess, the fresh smell that comes after the rain, the adorable dog we saw going out for a walk—it’s easy to forget these things unless we have a reason to remember. These questions give us a reason. They invite us to pause, review our experiences, and recognize that even in the most challenging days, God’s fingerprints are everywhere we look.
2. What I Love About You
Every night, before falling asleep, my husband and I share one thing we love about each other. We’ve been doing it almost as long as we’ve been married, and it’s a terrific way to end the day on a note of recognition. It’s often inspired by the experiences of the day: “I love how you are so great at fixing my computer,” or, “I love how supportive you are when I’m stressed.” This exercise isn’t just for spouses; each night, my husband and I also tell our children one thing that we love about them. It’s very grounding to wrap the day up by recognizing the good. Even if there has been family tension or frustration in the hours before bed, verbalizing something you love about a person is a simple but meaningful way to reconnect. It’s one more simple but effective way to recognize the people we share our lives with and to recognize God’s goodness in them.
How do you practice Ignatian spirituality with your family?