Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love. Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer. - Simone Weil Look, mama, look, do you see? A thousand times a day, tugging at my sleeve, calling out in the rearview mirror, yelling from upstairs, downstairs, around the corner, from the other room - look! Come quick! You have to see this! You have to see! Witness is part of parenthood. We watch a child becoming before our eyes. Awakening to the world at first. Alert for longer stretches each week, searching around the room with brand-new, blinking eyes. We watch and wonder: how did we help create this creation? We watch for the baby to smile, to laugh, to coo. Then to move, to roll, to crawl, to creep, to stand, to cruise, to totter, then triumphantly to walk. We clap and coax, we capture on camera: the marvel of witness. But swiftly the tide turns. When words meet movement, we must change, too. Now we are not simply the passive witness … [Read more...] about look, mama, look – do you see?
I recently presented at the Calvin Symposium on Worship on children and worship, faith formation across the lifespan, and work as vocation. Since the audience for the Symposium is primarily Protestant, I asked Mothering Spirit readers on Facebook to share how their church welcomes children. They sent photos and descriptions of every model of welcoming children that we debated within the ecumenical conference (e.g., Sunday school, nursery/cry room, children's message, family service, quiet bags, children's bulletin/missal, etc.). As a Catholic, I believe children are part of the Body of Christ who belong in Mass. Below is an excerpt from what I shared at the Symposium. How might it inspire or challenge you to reflect on how you worship with children - whether at church on Sunday morning or at home during the week? Be sure to check out my new resource pages for church ministers and parents, too! Why welcome children within churches? “People were bringing little children to him in … [Read more...] about how do children worship best?
In the years since our twin daughters died, I've shared in this space some of what helped me grieve. Scripture, of course. Community, in the church and among parents who have experienced loss like ours. Prayer, at turns angry, sorrowful, empty, or hopeful. What I've never written about is poetry. On my computer and in my filing cabinet, I keep (giant, growing) folders of poetry that I love. Every time I come across a poem that clutches the core of me, I tuck it there. Essays and novels and memoirs I can read by the dozen, and I do, and they change me. But poetry stays with me longer than anything else. After Maggie and Abby died, I started a new collection of poetry. For me, for grief. A few that friends and strangers sent to me or tucked into sympathy cards. Many that I found myself, unbidden. Some that I rediscovered, now knowing what they meant. I poured through books of grief poetry, gut-grateful for others who knew the healing power of words. But I also needed to … [Read more...] about the power of poetry (when words pale)
A beloved theology professor of mine in college used to start each class with a simple prayer, repeating, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). One line spoken slowly, one word dropped each time until there was only "be." Years later, a favorite writing teacher did the same during a week-long workshop. Let us pause each day to breathe into the spaces between the words. I took their wisdom to heart, prayed these lines with children and adults. Always searching for more Scripture that can be stair-stepped with perfect simplicity. Now I've found another. . . . Beloved, we are God's children now. (1 John 3:2) The first Scripture I ever memorized, for an all-school Mass. The first time I ever got to proclaim the Word, second grade if memory serves. White mimeographed reading pasted onto construction paper. I had to yank the microphone all the way down and perch on pink saddle-shoed tip-toes, and even then I could barely see over the ambo. But the thrill … [Read more...] about beloved. be loved.