Sanctuaries of Childhood

Nurturing a Child's Spiritual Life

Shea Darian



St. Paul enjoined his communities to “pray unceasingly”. I have come to conclude that he didn’t mean to train ourselves to repeat prayers 24/7 — rather, I believe he meant to turn everything we do into a prayer, into a way to make manifest Love on the earth, into a way to connect ourselves to that which is Divine while remaining connected to that which is of the Earth, into a gift from Heaven to Earth and Earth to Heaven.

Shea Darian’s Sanctuaries of Childhood shows us how to do just that – create a life for our children and ourselves that honors the spirit as it heals the soul and nourishes the body. More, she has done it deeply and truly, but has done it in a way that will unite parents rather than divide them, and can be practiced by families of all faiths, including mixed-faith families.

This is the best, most open, most beautiful and most healing approach to this crying need of our society which I have seen. May it find its way into every heart and home who seeks what it offers.

We live in a society that makes it ever more difficult for children to find access to these sanctuaries on a daily basis. More consistently, entrance to such sacred spaces is being barred by the obstacles of busy schedules, our overuse of television and electronic media, and a lack of understanding for a child’s genuine spiritual needs. Parents and caregivers can help to unbolt the doors of these sanctuaries, and make it possible for children to experience divine comfort and inspiration

As we make room in our lives for children to share with us the sacred qualities of childhood, no doubt young and old will find that within the sanctuaries of childhood, we serve one another as rabbis, ministers, and spiritual teachers. So let us open wide the doors. Let us remember what it is to be a child . . .

– the author, from the book.

  1. Shea Darian’s book is a treasure trove of ideas for all members of the family. Each chapter contains thoughtful suggestions to implement for the very young child, the more mature child, the teen and the adult. Some ideas are not new (having family meetings), but the peace-imbued spin she puts on them is. She also explores guidelines for ways to involve your child in the world, in an age-appropriate way, from ecological activism to caring for others in our community.

    What really sets this book apart is the ongoing discussion of how to bring religion into everyday life. Darian is Christian, but she writes the book in such a way that people from any religious persuasion could gain use out of it, even if they fall back on the moniker of being “spiritual”, but not of any particular faith. Personally, I loved the section on prayer, and found it inspiring enough to be quote-worthy in Lenten letters that I am writing to my friend.

    Sanctuaries of Childhood is a worthy addition to any parenting or church library, and one to return to time and time again.