Sunday, May 04, 2008

mystery in the mundane

I already linked to Elizabeth's posts on intentionality in housekeeping.

Here are some more that are in the same train of thought for me.

The first is about laundry among other things, and the second is about healthy living, but they overlap to me in thought process (admittedly, my thought processes can be rather free-associative at times).

Susan at High Desert Home mentioned Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and 'Woman's Work' by Kathleen Norris. The link is to a review which says:

Here, she takes a much more specific topic: how are the menial tasks of life —the tasks we don’t educate our children to do, those little jobs that we think of as work for other, less fortunate people’s children, the daily chores often considered “women’s work— islands of holiness, just like the Daily Office might be.


Norris makes clear that she doesn’t think that these tasks should define or confine us, but that they should not simply be disregarded as “menial” but looked at as a small but no less important part of our stewardship of the world, our recognition of God and the holy residing in almost every thing, our participation in what Jews call the tikkun olam, the fixing of the world.

Yes, I know the photo does not show the "mundane" -- but I thought it was lovely (daughter gets the credit) and shows how different things look in a different perspective -- a thought I want to remember in connection with these "islands of holiness!" Chari, do you recognize the scene?


lissla lissar said...

Ooh, I love Kathleen Norris. I heard her speak just before Christmas, at the Toronto launch of God With Us- meditations on Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. I'll have to order that book. For me and for my Mum.

(off topic)Do you have any, oh, beginner's books on the theory and practice of homeschooling that you would recommend?

lissla lissar said...

Also the Eastern Orthodox concept about us re-sanctifying the world through blessing. A good idea. Fixing the damage of the Fall.

Stephanie said...

Add _Splendor in the Ordinary_ by Thomas Howard to your list, Willa! It's an easy read, and deceptively simple in its approach, and it was profoundly changing for me.

Willa said...

Oh, thanks, Stephanie! Going to check the library right now.

Lissla, about homeschooling I personally would definitely start with Elizabeth Foss's Real Learning, if you don't have it already. It is valuable just for thinking about how to set up a rich learning environment and family life in the home even before schooling starts. Of course, I imagine you probably have lots of ideas on that yourself and your style would be a bit different than Elizabeth's, but I think her book is a good thought-provoker.

A couple more -- Norms and Nobility by David Hicks, Poetic Knowledge by James Taylor. Not about homeschooling per se but I wish I'd read them when my babies were babies ;-). I know you would enjoy them.

From there I'd want to diverge depending on your own personal style and what kind of homeschooling you wanted to do. I like Suzy Andres' Homeschooling with Gentleness -- a form of classical unschooling. Even if you weren't much interested in classical or unschooling I like the way she goes through a sort of dialectical process in thinking about the best way to educate.

Hmm, if I think of any others I will let you know. I should probably put this in a post, actually. A lot of people get lots of mileage from browsing through homeschool catalogs -- mostly free and give you lots of ideas of what is out there.

lissla lissar said...

Thanks so much.

I've been pinging around thoughts about sacramentalism and the holiness of matter for a couple of weeks, because of a continuing discussion with a very Protestant friend about relics. I think any non-Gnostic version of Crhistianity, and especially the Catholic understanding of grace transmissable by the reality of the Body and Blood- the Real Presence- ought to lead us all to realize everything, all creation is holy. There's a strong temptation to separate out, to live 'schizophreic faith', as though washing dishes or talking to our neighbours or any mundane task can't be areas of real holiness and servanthood.

A bit jumbled- waiting for baby to wake- there he is!

Susan L said...

Ooh, two more books I want to read! Splendor in the Ordinary has moved to the top of my "want to read now" list. And I like the sound of the book you mentioned, Willa, on gentle homeschooling. I used to joke that we were classical unschoolers because there was so much about each philosophy that I valued and encouraged in our home.

And I liked what Lissla said about the tendency to live out a schizophrenic faith.


Stephanie said...

Susan, I bet you and I would have some things in common ... I mean, wouldn't a Classical Unschooler use our well-worn philosophy of Benign Neglect? (hahaha!) It was a great relief to me to find Charlotte Mason's much more dignified sounding "masterly inactivity," because that's what I really think is going on in all those hours of Childthought. And it just sounds so much better than "neglect."

Willa said...

"There's a strong temptation to separate out, to live 'schizophreic faith', as though washing dishes or talking to our neighbours or any mundane task can't be areas of real holiness and servanthood."

Yes, and since my oldest is discerning whether to enter a monastery, there is another factor that plays into it -- the value of the humble, hidden, "little" things of life. All the sacraments make use of little, ordinary but lifegiving things -- bread and wine, water, oil.

This is something I can see intellectually but have a hard time living -- I think I am a natural Manichean (LOL). I've always had to struggle to put my mind and heart in gear with my physical actions and presence.

Funny that I am now interrupted from this thought process to deal with a gross mess in the sink, the residue of a backed-up garbage disposal. I am sure you need no more details than that.

The thoughts are very helpful,thanks once again!