Watching footage of St. John Paul II, I have always been struck by his calm, pleasant demeanor. In the midst of great activity and constant traveling, he seemed to possess an inner reservoir of tranquility. It did not seem that the long hours or the constant flow of activity prevented him from walking continuously with the Lord. His steadiness was present even as events around him were sometimes turbulent.
We can sometimes mistakenly believe that such a disposition is a quality that people always possessed. We can look at people who seem to exude inner peace and stability, and believe that they never struggled. We think, “They must have been born that way.” Although the circumstances of our family and our genetic background play a role, the truth is that our lives involve a trajectory of growth and transformation that is the result of intentional cultivation.
The people who possess true inner peace, and do not simply appear that way, have often made time for forms of renewal that provide them with the inspiration and strength they need. Specifically, they are people who pray; people who make time for meditation. They are people who make a concerted effort to seek God in all things, and in this way they develop a habit of turning away from themselves and towards God.
Such practices will vary depend upon our stations in life. For married people, it will often involve a family culture of prayer in which parents join their children in family rituals. Meditation done alone may come at varied times, but the daily bread of prayer will be the opening of the Word done in community. This will involve family members of varied ages coming together around a shared relationship with Jesus Christ.
The goal is not so much superficial aspects of holiness such as the ability to spend lengthy periods in silence (though this can be a great gift), but rather the self-forgetting that is engendered in us through faith. In this way, the family can be a constant source for growth as the daily asceticism demanded of parents helps them to lose their selfishness. Their path to holiness is discovered in the opportunities presented to them by their children. In teaching and passing on the faith, they encounter Jesus in a new and dynamic way.
Thus meditation for parents involves inviting the Lord into their families every day in a variety of ways. I would recommend that parents try to do some “alone” time, but meditation must also be a shared activity of the family, a community of prayer that reflects constantly on the Word of God. May your home be such a refuge.