Saturday 20 April 2013

Weekend Reading

Lectio divina: paying attention @ Simple Mom
One of my favorite definitions of prayer is that it is the practice of paying attention. Not merely that you must pay attention while you’re praying, but that prayer itself is the act of attending: to God, but also to the beauty – and ugliness – before us.

Paying attention is the precursor to so many critical virtues: how can I be grateful or compassionate or wise or loving if I have not first paid attention?

...I cannot multi-task when I’m practicing lectio divina. It doesn’t miraculously quiet “monkey mind,” but this small act of reverence is also a powerful form of resistance. I will not let technology and bad habits encumber my spirit. I refuse to accept that my attention can only and ever be divided.

If we cultivate our ability to pay attention, I haven’t a single doubt that we will indeed be astonished. We won’t merely tell better stories; we will live better stories.

Opening Up the GD Toolbox: Connection @ Dulce de leche
I described every time I could remember being frustrated with my own little sister when I was his age, and how terribly unfair it seemed to me that she would provoke me until I retaliated and then got in trouble. I gave every detail I could remember of our squabbles. He listened and became more and more engaged. I could see him biting his lips to hold in a chuckle as I recounted my exasperation and some of the vengeance I had taken.

My first inclination was to moralize and say what I should have done. It took every ounce of self control that I have not to turn it into a sermon. And I am so glad that I didn't. He began to thoughtfully offer suggestions to avoid conflict. I countered with things that she might have done to continue annoying me. He dug right into the challenge and brainstormed creative ways to handle it peacefully. Then he hugged me tight and told me he loved me.

I could see the tension leave him as he began to believe that I really, truly understood his side of it.

Faithful Parenting – Jennifer McGrail @ Parenting Wild Things
I have made mistakes as a parent, to be sure. I will continue to make mistakes. But when I’m there in that moment, on my knees, at the end of my proverbial parenting rope, the answer is there: More patience. More compassion. More kindness. More mercy. More Jesus. The Bible is, at its a core, a book about love, redemption, and grace. Love and redemption and grace so deep and so wide that we will likely spend our entire lives trying to understand it. The only way we can even begin to understand it is by living it. And there is no better place to start than with our own families, and with our own children.
[Also meriting particular mention is Faithful Parenting – Luke and Jill Harms, another selection from Parenting Wild Thing's Faithful Parenting series.]

Every Spiritual Home (a Riff) @ Internet Monk
A miraculous thing can happen to grown-ups on a faith journey. We come to appreciate moments from our past faith community, as different as it may be from our current one. We may recall a special Sunday school teacher who taught us the “sacred writings” in our childhood.
That is why when people join our church, we always say, “We give thanks for every community that has ever been your spiritual home.”
[With thanks to our pastor and his family as they move on to a new ministry in a new city this weekend...we will miss you greatly.]

Pick up your baby! Do to them what you would have done to you! @ I Take Joy
All of us, at some time or another, have been taught the golden rule, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets”. Matthew 7:12

And yet, it seems we forget this when we raise our children. Many moms have been told, “You will spoil your baby. You need to establish discipline now. You need to show your baby who is the boss.” And so moms become afraid to do the wrong thing - they do not want to raise a spoiled, selfish child, and so they start out feeling they need to be a policeman figure in their children’s lives instead of a mentor, guide, trainer, lover, encourager.
[Also, Sally's follow-up post Peace, Rest, Grace to all you Sweet Mamas! is beautifully encouraging.]

Why Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” Video Makes Me Uncomfortable...and Kind of Makes Me Angry @ Little Drops
Brave, strong, smart? Not enough. You have to be beautiful. And “beautiful” means something very specific, and very physical. Essentially every movie and tv show and commercial shows us that, right? It doesn’t matter what other merits a woman posses, if she is not conventionally attractive, she is essentially worthless (go watch Miss Representation for more thoughts on this). And my primary problem with this Dove ad is that it’s not really challenging the message like it makes us feel like it is. It doesn’t really tell us that the definition of beauty is broader than we have been trained to think it is, and it doesn’t really tell us that fitting inside that definition isn’t the most important thing. It doesn’t really push back against the constant objectification of women. All it’s really saying is that you’re actually not quite as far off from the narrow definition as you might think that you are (if you look like the featured women, I guess).

Beautiful Catastrophe: The Death and Rebirth of Becoming a Mother @ BlogHer Moms
You’re sitting in the house a few weeks after your perfect baby is born...Your belly is still sagging. Your boobs are exploding. You’re bleeding still, maybe, but you’re definitely leaking milk. There are big pools of it on your bed and couch and everywhere. You don’t really sleep, but rather fade in and out of a half-sleep, alongside your baby, checking him every hour, acutely aware of his breath, as if it were a freight train roaring through the room: Do I hear it? Yes, I hear it.

You remember when your body was just your own and you were thinner and felt contained and like the owner of your boobs and vagina and life. You remember having a couple shots of tequila or maybe a cigarette with some friends, and you did it like it was nothing, never knowing it was somebody who was going to stand like an old friend some day, a thousand miles away.

We were free and young and somebody else.

But now, we’re mothers.

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