School starts for my kids today, and I’ve returned to a wonderful little book that I first discovered in 2001, when I was writing my second book. It’s called, Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life, and it describes a way to easily integrate the Ignatian Examen into your everyday life — and your family’s life.
The odd title comes from an orphanage during WWII. The children therein had gone hungry so many times that they were in constant fear of waking to no food. But their caretakers found that when the kids were put to bed with a piece of bread, thus ensuring they’d have something to eat the next day, they slept soundly and peacefully.
While I haven’t taken to sleeping with a loaf, or sending my kids to bed with one, we are starting this school year with the practice of examining our lives in the spirit of Ignatius’ examination. The cornerstone of Ignatian spirituality is regular self-reflection that encourages us to detach from inordinate attachments to things other than God and attachment to God’s glory and, ultimately, to union with Jesus Christ.
Sleeping with Bread translates these concepts to normal life, and in language that children can understand. It replaces the dinnertime questions parents so often ask, “What was your high and low today?” with questions around the days “consolations and desolations,” questions like, “For what am I most grateful today?”
Like anything, it’s going to take a little practice for me and my kids to become adept at this, but I’m looking forward to it.
Have you and your family committed to any spiritual practices for this school year?