Reverence before the mystery of creation

“Our attitude towards the newborn child should not be one of compassion but rather of reverence before the mystery of creation, that a spiritual being has been confined within limits perceptible to us.”

“But if in the child are to be found the makings of the man, it is in the child also that the future welfare of the race is to be found”

-Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

I often find myself amazed that the great respect and awe Montessori had for the child.  This respect informs and underpins her whole philosophy of growth and learning, which I like more and more as I read through it.  I’m looking forward to implementing some of these attitudes into my homeschooling over the next few years (although much of her work applies more to child-rearing than “schooling” – good thing I don’t have to draw a clear line between the two!)

Peter Maurin

So I just finished The Long Loneliness which is a kind of autobiography Dorthy Day wrote back in the fifties.  I highly recommend it, first of all.  The first section about her early life is fascinating, the section about the birth of her daughter is moving (and should be required reading for mothers), and her depiction of Peter Maurin, who practically drove her to start the Catholic Worker movement, left me wondering why he hasn’t been canonized yet.  There will be much, much more on The Long Loneliness as I re-read it in the coming months, but we started looking again at Maurin’s Easy Essays, and here is one for a taste.  I suspect a similar feeling of unconnectedness to my experience in the world is what has caused me to drift away from my interest in formalized theology.  (No offence intended, studiers of formalized theology, it’s just that I have found God more easily in my garden than in Aquinas lately.)

BLOWING THE DYNAMITE

Writing about the Catholic Church, 
a radical writer says: 
“Rome will have to do more 
than to play a waiting game; 
she will have to use 
some of the dynamite 
inherent in her message.” 
To blow the dynamite 
of a message 
is the only way 
to make the message dynamic. 
If the Catholic Church 
is not today 
the dominant social dynamic force, 
it is because Catholic scholars 
have failed to blow the dynamite 
of the Church. 
Catholic scholars 
have taken the dynamite 
of the Church, 
have wrapped it up 
in nice phraseology, 
placed it in an hermetic container 
and sat on the lid. 
It is about time 
to blow the lid off 
so the Catholic Church 
may again become 
the dominant social dynamic force.

Dinner

“The focus of our days is the dinner table, whether, as often happens in the winter nowadays, it is just Hugh and me or I am cooking for a dozen or more.  When the children were in school I didn’t care what time we ate dinner as long as we ate it together.  If Hugh were going to be late, then we would all eat late.  If he had to be at the theatre early, we would eat early.  This was the time community (except for the very small babies) gathered together, when I saw most clearly illustrated the beautiful principle of unity in diversity:  we were one, but we were certainly diverse, a living example of the fact that like and equal are not the same thing.”

-Madeleine L’Engle, Glimpses of Grace (emphasis added)

I don’t have much time to write lately because of a swamp of school work, but I found this worth sharing.  This is sort of the ideal I hold up of my family in ten or fifteen years – gathered around dinner, discussing sports, theology, nature, literature, and whatever interests my children will quite literally “bring to the table” of which I now have no concept.  It is a daunting goal, but the beauty of this “unity in diversity” makes me want to strive towards it. 

More on this as relates to communal living beyond the family later, perhaps.

Release from solitude

Allow me a lenghty quote, and a few (less lenghty) comments. ? Is it me, or does anyone else wonder why it is taking so many Americans so long to realize some of the things Montessori mentions below? ? (More on this later – I think I can combine some of my readings!)

“But let us think, for a moment, of the many peoples of the world who live at different cultural levels from our own. ? In the matter of child rearing, almost all of these seem to be more enlightened than ourselves–with all our Western ultramodern ideals. ? Continue reading “Release from solitude”

Brothers K

That’s right, I finished The Brothers Karamazov? last night. ? All 701 pages. ? Of small print. ? Being stuck in a chair breastfeeding a good part of the day certainly has its advantages!

Anyone else who has read this, I would love to hear your thoughts. ? I find myself wishing for a good Russian literature class–there is so much in this text worth discussing! ? I’ll be posting on this book more, as I work through all the pages I dog-eared on my way through. ? But I am really curious to anyone else’s reactions!

Moon Watching

So we started reading Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television the other day…out loud, in the evenings. ? (I know it seems a bit extreme, but bear with me.) ? The thesis is that television, by its nature, is destructive to human lives and communities, no matter how nice or educational the programming tries to be. ? I’m sure I’ll be revisiting that idea later, but I think we’re already trying to benefit from one of the observations included in Mander’s first argument. ? He points out how disconnected we, especially we who live in the city or suburbs, are from the earth and its workings. ? Our food comes from stores, not plants in the ground; our water comes from faucets, not streams or rain showers; the greenery we do see is chosen and arranged by humans, not nature. ? Many, if not most, of us have lost our connection to the natural world, the world essentially unmodified by human hands (and machinery). ?

So tonight Craig and Lucy sat outside on the hammock and watched the moon play hide-and-seek behind the clouds. ? It was the fullest, brightest moon I have seen in a very long time. ? They looked at the stars, the few you can see through all the New Orleans light pollution. ? It was so simple, but somehow so profound as well. ? This is the kind of experience I want my children to remember when they are thirty-five. ?

When was the last time you noticed the moon?

Little Books

Lucy recieved so many books for Christmas this year!? It is wonderful, because she loves books (as do we) and now we have a whole new plethora of choices for bedtime stories.? I’ve decided to start adding some of her favorites to my “Off the Shelf” reading list on the sidebar.? Many of these are worth revisiting, even if you don’t have a little one around to read them to.? I’ve really been? enjoying re-reading so many books from my childhood, as well as discovering new favorites.? And when you don’t have the time or the patience to tackle a 600-page Russian novel, these books provide almost instant closure.? It’s like great literature, 15 minutes at a time!

Agents of Creation

(If the quote looks familiar, it’s the same one from the “Interdependence” post, so feel free to skip ahead. I promise the rest of the post is different!)

“In fact, we are always meeting in nature with admirable examples of the close correspondence between the forms of the organs and the offices they fulfill, even when these bring no actual benefit to the animal. Continue reading “Agents of Creation”

Interdependence

“In fact, we are always meeting in nature with admirable examples of the close correspondence between the forms of the organs and the offices they fulfill, even when these bring no actual benefit to the animal. The insects which suck nectar from flowers of a certain kind, develop probosces adapted to the length of corolla which those flowers possess. But they also develop a coating, quite useless to themselves, by which they collect pollen, and this fertilizes the flowers they will visit afterwards. … Continue reading “Interdependence”