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.

Somehow a Frog Finds a Pond

So I have found a new almost-all-consuming pastime. (!)  Searching for kid-friendly, good music which does not involve Disney or the same fifteen songs over and over.  Or anyone licking up baby bumble bees.  That’s just weird.

And I should profess again my love for NPR.  Last weekend we were driving to Baton Rouge and happened to hear the music review at the end of the Friday edition of All Things Considered.  Lucy was dancing in her car seat, and I was cracking up.

So apparently Stefan Shepherd‘s review has catapulted the South Carolina band Lunch Money to semi-stardom.  We ordered the CD almost as soon as we got to Baton Rouge.  And I love it.  And Craig doesn’t mind it.  And Lucy dances to it, and is already singing “Are You a Rabbit” around the house.  The lyrics are witty, without sacrificing good vocabulary (reticulated python!).  I love the fun, fast sound that dominates the CD, and the slower and calmer songs just make me happy.

So Samantha is no longer sleeping, so I guess I’m done, but if you are looking for some fun, clean music, check out Lunch Money.  Goodnight all!

Body talk

There are schools of thought which encourage children be fed by having several different foods (including dessert!) set before them at the beginning of a meal, and the child will naturally choose the foods which his body happens to need at the moment (and not necessarily dessert).  The thought is that a small child, not yet driven by mere routine, not having been taught simply to finish his plate, is still connected to voice of her body.  We haven’t implemented this totally into Lucy’s world, but we don’t force her to make a “happy plate” either.

I bring this up not because of our eating habits, but because of what I’ve been seeing from Lucy the last day or so.  She is coming down with a head cold, and last night the girl who never goes to bed without screaming curled up next to me saying, “I going to sleep.”  Then she let me get up and leave the room and went to sleep without a snuggly parent.  Unheard of.

This morning she slept late and even when she woke up, didn’t want to get out of bed but claimed, “I going to sleep.”  And she laid there for close to an hour by herself.  My rambuncious two-year-old does not spend extra time in bed.  But today, she recognized that what her body needed most was rest, and made sure she got it.  

So I guess my job now is to stay out of the way in hopes that she will keep being able to respond to her body’s cues like this when she’s five, and fifteen, and thirty-five.  And maybe along the way I can learn a little from her (and Samantha) about listening to my body well, and trusting what I hear.

Food for Thought, and Thought for Food

I’ve been thinking a lot about food lately.  I like to spend time in the kitchen, making good food from scratch (or close to it).  Unfortunately, that often means something else in the never-ending list of house and school chores is being neglected.  As much as I know I would miss all my kitchen comforts, some days I envy women whose work for the day is almost exclusively involved in preparing food for their families.

We’ve spent Mardi Gras at my parents’ house, away from all the festivities (and traffic) in New Orleans.  My dad grew up on a farm in Mustang, Oklahoma, which is now practically a suburb of Oklahoma City.  We were talking with him the other day about how his mother would provide a hearty, hot breakfast, a full lunch (fried chicken, potatoes, vegetable, etc.), and then a large dinner as well.  The men would come in from the fields to eat lunch during the harvest.  She got up before everyone else and started the stove on winter mornings.  She butchered the chickens.  I don’t envy some of the hard work she had to do, but I do envy having work with such a clear purpose.  

We’re working our way, very slowly, closer to the land.  Our little garden has produced well considering the neglect it has suffered.  We’re looking at joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) group out of Baton Rouge, so we will pay a fee for the year and get fresh, organic produce every week in April through August. (This takes out the middleman and supports a small farm which doesn’t destroy the land, not to mention cutting down on the effects of transportation.)

In many places just getting food on the table (if there is a table!) is an all-consuming daily project.  Where our food comes so easily to our tables, it is less appreciated.  One of our plans for Lent is to eat more simply, and hopefully more healthily, and stick to a tighter food budget.  Hopefully along the way, we can learn to be a little more careful in our eating, and a little more thankful for our bounty.

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”

Praise and Worship

I was on my way to pick up Lucy and go home from work today, when I wandered by the chapel at school. ? (How great is it that I work at a school with a chapel and on-site daycare in the building!) ? I glanced into the chapel and there were four seniors sitting/kneeling there, and one of them had a guitar. ? I started toward the daycare, then turned around and went to the chapel and sat in the back row. ? Not only were they singing praise and worship, but songs that I knew! ? Samantha was sleeping in the wrap (after a fussy spell) and I got to spend fifteen minutes reliving those days at Tulane when we would stay up to all hours singing in the TCC chapel. ? It was so refreshing, and to hear those beautiful female voices was truly holy. ? In fact, it was one of the holiest moments I have experienced in some time. ? I came out of it so calm. ? These girls always manage to be an inspiration to me when I least expect it.

On that note, I turned in my notice at the end of last week. ? I’ll be staying home with my girls next year, and I am very excited. ? There are a lot of things I will miss (and some – cellphones, dress codes – which I won’t), and I’m sure it won’t help my Latin any, but I can’t wait to get my house in order and start homeschooling in earnest. ? The countdown has begun – four more months!