Talking With Our Children About Life and Death
The other day I gave a gift of a live edge black walnut cutting board to my daughter Lauren’s family. The gift came with a life lesson. Worms had eaten curvy lines into the live edges and when we removed a remaining piece of bark we saw a dead worm. Worms, I told the children, are our friends. They do much of the work that helps dead trees and plants that to become part of the soil that gives life to new trees and plants, and people too. Everything that is alive, dies, and then, after a while, lives again. This is true of trees and worms and it is true about deer in the forest and all of us. We live. We die. Something else gets it’s turn to be alive. We call this the circle of life.
How did the children handle this life lesson? Were they frightened by our matter-of-fact conversation about death? Not even a little. Fascination was more like it. We went hiking on a trail through the woods. Dead and rotting trees were everywhere. The grandchildren wanted me to personally look at and celebrate all the evidence they found of the circle of life. It was a very energetic hike, though responding to all of their discoveries wore me out.
What Do We Tell Our Children About Easter?
Just in time, we doubled the number of books for children in the spiritual books library in our community. My friend, Greg Ptacin, and I keep that library up to date and today we displayed the book, “The Easter Story.”
Here is a question for Christian parents? Do we tell the entire Easter story to our children? Of course, that question suggests the difficulty we may have explaining the crucifixion, the suffering, the evil in the world, then and now, that with extreme violence puts to death the Prince of Peace. However, I am also suggesting that the whole story of Easter includes these facts:
The principalities and powers of our world still promote horrifying violence as they oppose the voices and efforts of peacemakers.
Death and resurrection are fundamental of all of our lives and must be spoken of with our children with far less hesitation and far fewer euphemisms. They need to understand and accept the entire “circle of life;” the sorrow and the joy; the beginnings and the endings; the loss and the gain.
Spring, with all of its expressions of the living emerging from the dying, is a perfect time for such matter-of-fact realities to be shared with our children. Easter is the perfect time to remind ourselves that destruction and construction have always been the way of the universe, from the beginning, and always will be.