Friday, August 28, 2009

BE STILL AND KNOW GOD

Busyness is an assumed way of life for us parents. "The Busy Family's Guide to Spirituality" enters into the daily hectic schedule of parents, complete with the many competing lists, demands,and stresses, and offers parents and family a practical way of living the spiritual life together in intimacy with God. Spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen writes the following in his book Making All Things New:

"One of the most obvious characteristics of our daily lives is that we are busy. We experience our days as filled with things to do, people to meet, projects to finish, letters to write, calls to make, and appointments to keep. Our lives often seem like overpacked suitcases bursting at the seams. In fact, we are almost always aware of being behind schedule. There is a nagging sense that there are unfinished tasks, unfulfilled promises, unrealized proposals. There is always someting else that we should have remembered, done, or said. There are always people we did not speak to, write to, or visit. Thus, although we are very busy, we also have a lingering feeling of never really fulfilling our obligations. The strange thing, however, is that it is very hard not to be busy." (1)

As a parent, how can we discover true spirituality in such a busy world of raising children? The ancient call echoes across the generations: "Be still and know that I am God". God still invites us into a life of inner quiet, rest, renewal and spiritual stillness. This call is made because God knows we need the gift of stillness to renew our souls for the days ahead. Come along with these blog essays and the insights discovered in "The Busy Family's Guide to Spiritualtiy" and discover anew the ancient way of spirituality by "being still and knowing God".

(1) Henri Nouwen, Making All Things New (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1981), 23-24.
Photo "Contemplation", by Thomas Robinson. See photo.ecola.us for Thomas Robinsons's Nature Photography gallery.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

WALKING IN NATURE


“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir
When our children were still infants, we began walking in nature with them, carrying them at first in a "snuggly", a front-carrier. When each of our three sons learned to walk, we took them out into the forest, through fields and meadows, along lakesides, up mountain trails; anywhere out in creation. There is no surprise today that each of our grown sons love being out in nature. One has become a Marine Scientist, working directly in the natural habitat of the intertidal zone at the edge of the land and sea. One is a painter, loving recreating scenes of nature, including a 4 foot by 6 foot painting of Haystack Rock at sunset hanging on our wall in our living room. Our youngest son has a passion for nature photography. This evening, while walking in nature, we witnessed a bald eagle swoop down from a circle in the sky and pluck a frog from the lakeside where we were enjoying sunset. Later, we also soaked in the golden peace of sunset reflected upon the "S" curves of the local river as it headed to the sea just one or two more bends through the dunes. Standing there in a zenlike quiet was a Heron, reflected in perfect golden glory. As John Muir practiced over and again in his adventurous life walking in nature, when we walk in nature, we always receive more than we seek.

Family Activity: Try going out this week for a family nature walk. Walk around the block if you live in suburbia, and pay close attention to different patterns in nature, including water droplets from the neighbor's sprinkler, and shapes of grass blades. If possible, bring home a few of these patterns and put them on your window sills for later reflection.

Friday, August 7, 2009

THE CLOISTER GARDEN


Imagine a cloister garden. If you've never been inside the heart of a monastery, come along. Walk with me through the open gate over which reads the ancient Latin invitation, PAX. Peace to you who enter this way. Walk along the exterior garden path leading up to the big wooden door. Come inside into a whole new way of family life together. Step along the arched walkway, and step out into the bright sunshine. Sit here for a time next to the quiet cloister garden fountain at the center. Listen. The sound of silence is full here. Here you can listen anew. Here all the busyness of the past week, the past month, the past years since you became a parent, here you can lay all that aside for a time and rest and listen and renew your soul. Your children need the best you can offer them. Be refreshed here in this quiet, well-cared for cloister garden. From of old, Benedict still calls to all who are weary and tired, saying "listen with your heart and walk in this new way". This blog invites you into a whole new way of family living. Written by David Robinson, author of THE BUSY FAMILY'S GUIDE TO SPIRITUALITY, published by Crossroad Publishing Company in September 2009, these blog posts welcome you to come deeper into your sacred calling as a parent, following in the footsteps of wise, wonder-filled parents who you've known and some who you have never met, yet who have also sat here in this place, listening to the gift of silence within the cloister garden of family spirituality.

(photo by Thomas Robinson; see photos.ecola.us)