I received a letter in the mail a few weeks back from one of our friends in Connecticut. It read:
I don’t know how you guys do ‘two toddlers’ in your house, but here, how we do it is… 2 months late.
Sigh. Merry um, Lent?
As the abnegation of our egos continues and our kids’ faith education begins, I have 2 observations to share:
1. All is peaceful as long as I have no ambitions other than service;
2. Kids will get into anything if there are stories and/or toys involved, and will then absorb concepts therein.
Thus, all I do is buy action figures and cast them as saints or characters from Homer and the Brothers Grimm. And then we play out the stories.
Little else to say about life at present.
May Lent guide you to terrible reckoning and peace… Henry and Pearl: rise.
And… Merry Christmas… 2013!
Ten months early and with eternal love, JKWF”
Books and technology… Both great ways to learn, and really, my primary sources of knowledge.
But as I read Justin’s letter,
I learned more from that 1 letter than I did reading the conflicting advice of the 23 books I read while pregnant with my first child, Henry. I longed to be a better mom and servant, which again, in contrast to the feelings of condemnation and confusion elicited from aforementioned mothering books, was a welcome feeling.
Professionally, I have always done some sort of education or social work. So, I value and understand the juxtaposition of theory and practice: “praxis”…
(One of my heroes, Gustavo Gutierrez, the founder of liberation theology and coin-er of the phrase, “preferential option for the poor,” for example, is not only an academic lecturer, but also a pastor. There is also a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago who said of his farm in Ireland: “I could not teach, if I did not farm”… Another time, another post?) 🙂
I was encouraged in a letter on my 30th birthday, five years ago, to continue in the cultivation of praxis in my life, and especially “techne”/mastery of craft. I took this advice to heart, and continued in my learning of quilting from Carol Puckett, BA in Home Economics (wish they still gave that degree!).
(Actually… SFSU might still have it, thanx Google!)
And so, Justin, I applied the principles and praxis of your letter to last Tuesday’s SNOW DAY. 🙂
Henry, 3, who is really into forts and spaceships,
and Pearl, 1, who is really into laughing and playing without specificities,
and Nancy, our housemate,
all built a snowman and snow fort.
I should have been working on preparing my Lego Robotics lesson for work,
Nancy should have been studying for her bones or muscles or somethings test.
But we built, and laughed, and imagined, and loved the kids by playing.
And Nancy and I at one point, were literal servants, as we Siberian husky dog-style, pulled them on sleds in the backyard, with giggles as our reward.
1. All was peaceful, as we came back into the house in shifts, as eventually even snowsuits and snowpants could not protect our hands and faces from the chill.
2. Bebes and adults absorbed concepts therein… building stuff, sliding on stuff, and other Physics lessons that I was too tired to articulate.
The ultimate learning was that all “inconveniences” like snow are a chance to slow down, connect with loved ones, and rest and play.
Or, at least that was my conceptual takeaway.
Let us, in this culture valuing independence, productivity and efficiency,
also cultivate intentional moments of slowness, intimacy, and tomfoolery.
(&Justin and Carol, in absentia)