Reflections on the various dimensions of feminine vocation from liturgical homemaking and child rearing to education and the spiritual life.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Out of the Mouths of Kits

When I see the giddy euphoria of my three-year-old at the library check-out counter, I almost forget to think about the germs that must be crawling all over the cute little stuffed animal that comes in the backpack-book-animal combo. My son seriously glows and hops, his face covered with the biggest grin.

This week's pick was a raccoon puppet with the New York Times #1 Bestseller, The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn. As I silently scanned the Foreword, I noticed that the story is described as one "for any child who confronts a difficult situation," one that provides "reassurance" and "confidence to cope."

"What is the source of conflict and insecurity?" I wondered, as I turned the front pages to begin reading the story to my two children tucked close to me on the couch.
     Chester Raccoon stood at the edge of the forest and cried.
     "I don't want to go to school," he told his mother. "I want to stay home with you. I want to play with my friends. And play with my toys. And read my books. And swing on my swing. Please may I stay home with you?"
The illustration on the facing page shows a poignant raccoon kit with tear drops budding from his eyes.

We are all looking at the touching picture, when my first-grader pipes up, "They don't know about homeschooling in this book."

The book delivers what it promises. It's a sweet story that reminds us we all can be anchored in love and bravely face new challenges. And for many families, going to school is either an unavoidable reality or the preferred option for parent and child alike. For others it may constitute an unnatural and unnecessary separation, one I am thankful to avoid.

At the end Mrs. Raccoon, along with her kit, finds comfort. I suspect she feels sad to send her little one away. I would be sad, too. I want my little ones to stay home with me, playing and reading and learning together all day. And that's just what we do.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Saint Patrick's Breastplate

There's also the amazing "Saint Patrick's Breastplate" by the Tim Keyes Consort:.

Short version:

From the full-length (eight movements) version: (or order the Saint Patrick's Breastplate CD)

(Movements VI & VII do not appear to be on youtube. Please let me know if you find them.)

(Apparently, there is also a full-length movie?)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"The Deer's Cry"

(also posted on The Liturgical Year for Little Ones)

 Fearing attack by hostile Druids, Saint Patrick's companions journeyed uneasily with him to the hall of the Irish king, Laoghaire, to preach the Gospel of Christ's love and peace. None of the companions carried weapons.

Saint Patrick soothed their anxiety. Exhorting them to trust in the power of Christ, he led them in song.

While they approached the crossroad singing of Christ's enveloping presence, unbeknownst to them, a band of Druids lay hidden in ambush. But hours past, and the Druid's saw nothing save "a stag leading his band of deer." Lochru, the Druid leader was sure he had heard the deer singing.
To this day, the song that Patrick and his friend sang as they passed by Lochru and his band is known as "The Deer's Cry."

For Saint Patrick's feast day this year, you can read the whole exciting story to your children from James A. Janda's book : (best for elementary-school kids; might be too wordy for preschoolers)

Invigorate your own trust in Christ with Saint Patrick's story but also with this beautiful setting of "The Deer's Cry" by Orthodox composer Arvo Pärt: (Read about the Arvo Pärt Project at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary here.)

"The Deer's Cry"
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in me, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me,
Christ with me. 

I'm looking forward to sharing this musical-theological feast with my kids on March 17. 

As this is one of the rare years when St. Patrick's day falls before Lent proper, we'll also be enjoying an Irish fish and colcannon dinner. Just be sure to inform your children that St. Patrick most assuredly never ate potatoes himself as those were imported to Europe from the Americas in the late sixteenth century. (Fact-check it. It's true.) Liturgical traditions evolve, however. So it's spuds for us!