Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Prodigal Bear

The parable of the Prodigal Son plays out at our place on a weekly basis. Our younger daughter has a beloved brown teddy bear called Sally who is greatly prone to becoming lost in multiple hiding places around the house and backyard. Sally is sometimes assisted by our older girl who sometimes likes to taunt sister by taking Sally away and hiding her somewhere in the house. On other occasions Sally is simply included in a game which can involve being tucked away in a pretend doctor's bed or some such and then... well who know's where Sally is at the end of the day? The bane of our parenting existence comes when it is time for said daughter to retire to bed and..."oh no Sally...where's Sally!?" Thus commencing great searching, cursing and lamentation and all the usual and unusual possible hiding places are checked sometimes multiple times. There is great rejoicing and reunion when Sally is finally located after twenty minutes in some unpredicatable location cavorting with other toys that had been included in the now long forgotten game. And so everyone can breathe easier. At other times Sally is unlocatable and so, like recently, we tried the substitute comfort toy..."how 'bout lovely brown kangaroo, he wants to have a nigh nighs in your bed tonight and he's a good friend isn't he?" The sleeping certainly wasn't as good and in fact brown kangaroo was promptly ejected from the morning Sally was suddenly discovered to shrieks of delight, "Yay, I found Sally!" Do you have any 'lost and found' bears at your place?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Parenthood and Prayerfulness

Every stage of our lives offers fresh opportunities. Responding to divine guidance, try to discern the right time to undertake or relinquish responsibilities without undue pride or guilt. Attend to what love requires of you, which may not be great busyness.

An Advice and Query from the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

Many of us with young children are also called to a life of prayer and contemplation. Parenthood and prayerfulness can seem somewhat mutually exclusive at times with the various tasks that juggling parenting, relationship, a household and formal employment entails. However, the challenge to find a balance in this is of great importance so that we are trying to live the richest possible life as we guide our children into the human/earth community. The weaving together of all the seemingly disparate parts of our lives is precisely the work of prayer. Prayer can give us the necessary perspective that we are part of something much larger than ourselves. While this is an area that requires much more than a few lines I'd like to mention a few practical and attitudinal things that I and others have found helpful at various times in the journey of linking prayerfulness with parenthood.
  • find space for a short silence and prayer in the morning.
  • pray an office or part thereof on public transport.
  • Memorize a midday prayer for use during paid or unpaid work or as a prayer stop.
  • Become aware of breastfeeding as an office or vigil.
  • sing Taize style chants while driving.
  • pray with children using a 'song, little silence, short prayer'
  • look at icons with children.
  • Mindfully observe or participate in play with your children.
  • pray the Angels of the Hours at with your children.
  • allocate 1-2 spaces per week for Lectio Divina or prayerful reading of Scripture.
  • find space for a longer silence in the day somewhere (I like night prayer as silence as I am often last to bed in our household).
  • negotiate with your partner or other trusted person a 12-24 hour time of solitude a few times in the year or as possible.
  • If you use a specific prayer or mantra in your silences return to this during the day in the midst of activity.
  • Arrange to see a spiritual director who can help you to remain mindful and centred during the challenges and decisions of this stage of life.
  • Reflect on the Gospel figures of Mary and Martha as the active and contemplative parts of ourselves. View this Teaching from Lawrence Freeman from the World Community for Christian Meditation.
  • Be prepared to be interupted in specific times of prayer; Rather than respond out of irritation or frustration try to turn any interuption into an opportunity to extend your experience of prayer.
  • Be available for prayer that comes without planning or expectation; Accept the simplicity and giftedness of being drawn into Presence when this comes for you.
  • Be committed to gently returning to the Centre of your life even in the midst of stress, chaos and fatigue. Stress can contain the seeds of wisdom.

These are only a few thoughts...I'd be very happy to receive comments, tips, experiences and revisit this substantial topic again.

Best wishes to all.