It's no secret that I write about domestic churches on this site. When I think of domestic church, the images that immediately come to my mind are of the whole family gathered together around the table for dinner or in the family minivan. Recently, however, when one of my daughters had a program every night for a week, I spent more one on one time with my other daughters and I reflected on this time as another expression of my domestic church.
My three-year-old daughter got a new bike for her birthday, so I spent one evening taking her out for a ride. She peddled and screamed "look Daddy! I'm doing it all by myself!" Then her back wheel would get stuck in a crack and start spinning in place as she peddled furiously. She would laugh and laugh, and I would laugh with her until I nudged her forward again.
Other times during the week we turned on a favorite show on the TV and we'd snuggle close on the couch and watch it together. She would curl up with her knees by her chest and nuzzle her head in my shoulder.
At the end of the week my first daughter's program ended, and we were together as a big family again. It is fun to have the whole family together and it's fun to have one on one time with one daughter. This daddy-daughter time made me think about our time with our heavenly Father.
I believe community is important for our faith development. Praying as a family, celebrating mass with a parish, retreats with a youth group, discussions with a faith sharing group, and so many more communal experiences nurture our faith. However, it is also important for each of us to spend some one on one time with God as well. We might spend time in private prayer, reading scripture, journaling, or walking in God's creation. This is also important to our faith.
As I consider the time with my daughter from this particular week, there are two good uses of this daddy daughter time I experienced. The first was for teaching my daughter a new skill. I was better able to help her learn to ride her bike when I could focus on her exclusively. The second was for growing in intimacy. Cuddling on the couch was a special time for me to tell her I love her without all the other kids dogpiled on me.
Similarly, individual time with God is a good time for God to teach us new skills, to give us new insights, or to give us grace to grow in a virtue. It is also good time for us to grow in intimacy with God, to praise and adore the God who knows us better than we know ourselves.
I might continue to grow in my faith through time with my family's domestic church, but I also make time each day to be alone with God. My faith is enriched in both of these contexts.