Who I'm Sleeping With

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?

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  • Jim


  • Len Delony

    Thanks for reminding me of this wonderful book. With our 10 and 11 year old rascals starting school, it’s important to keep beginning again, even (especially?) with “old” things tried and too quickly left in the past. I’ll go find our copy of “Sleeping With Bread” and listen for spiritual emergences (& smell for hints of fresh bread?!) to shape the rhythms and nourish us all in our new school year.

  • Len Delony

    Oh yeah.. And Tony – We look forward to you coming to be with us in Fort Worth in early December!

  • Korey

    I began daily office prayers about 3 years ago and was fairly erratic, probably averaging once a day. About a month ago I began a firm commitment to morning and night prayer. Last fall I introduced night prayer to my son (only 7 at the time) and he really liked it, so we prayed together the whole thing quite regularly (that’s when I read Scripture as well). Early in the summer his interest waned so I returned to praying alone, but I asked yesterday and he wanted to start, so we begin again this evening.

    Thanks for the book recommendation, I’ll look into it.

  • Sarah

    LOVE this book – have given it away more times t han I can count and keep buying myself another copy. I try to do this daily – no one but the animals and I at home now. But when my now-adult sons were young, well before I knew of this book or the Examen, we did evening prayers in essentially the manner of the Examen – looking over the day’s blessings (consolations/what gave us life) and challenges (difficult people or situations, disappointments/the desolations). In the midst of the turmoil of our own family dislocation due to divorce and job changes, it was quite literally a practice that kept us rooted and grounded where we need to be – in prayer, in relationship to God and with one another.

  • Thank you pointing this book out. My two sons have been asking me to bring my Book of Common Prayer to their evening prayers. They like flipping through it to find a prayer to say. And this seems like a wonderful resource to help direct their growing curiosity.

  • It is really hard to translate spiritual things into a language that kids are interested in and can captivate their hearts and minds. Mine are nine, 11, and 12.

    I’ll be looking for this book. Thank you.

    P.S. We talk about “thorns & roses” in our day, sometimes. Got that from an article about Michelle Obama.

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