lenten readalong update

Choosing a book for a readalong is no easy task, especially when one discovers she’d rather read novels than hefty theological tomes.  After visiting three bookshops hoping to hold the Rolheiser in my hand, I finally found it and decided it just weighed too much — in more ways than one.  Rolheiser is out for sure, but I do look forward to reading excerpts.

I’m still intrigued by Fr. James Martin’s Jesus but worry that may not be the best choice for a “retreat” type book, either.  He’s got another book called Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life, which again would be perfect if it were shorter or more snippety.  I sense most want a little reflection and not a lot of heavy chapter-length prose, even if it leads us to joy and laughter.

Traveling Your Road to Joy is another promising read I’ve ordered and should have in hand for more thorough browsing tomorrow.  This is a short 8 session Merton study, and I think it could be a great book to lead us into Pope Francis’s The Joy of the GospelWith session titles like “Living Joyfully in the Present Moment” and “A Joy that Tastes God,” brief reflections upon scripture and passages from Merton’s writings, and I presume some reflection questions for contemplative dialogue, this could be an interesting perfect read for my Lent Party!  The jury is out until I see the entire book.

Others have expressed an interest in the Lent and Easter Wisdom books for Merton and St. Therese, so either of these could be the ticket.

Do you still have some thoughts or a comment about the book(s) you like to read during Lent?  You can email me directly through the contact page or leave a comment to this post.


If you’re looking for a novel to read during Lent, may I recommend these?  I’ve read Gilead and have had Death Comes for the Archbishop on my TBR shelf for almost a year.  Dying to read it!

         

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lenten readalong

white_rabbit_oh_dear_oh_dear_i_shall_be_late_sticker-rfd398c13fe4d45b9ad5331a93a2b7ff1_v9waf_8byvr_324Oh dear ! Oh dear! Lent is almost here!  That’s right.  Around the corner, people.  This brings sighs of relief to me because Lent is always a wonderful excuse to slow down and live more intentionally, more prayerfully.  It’s a time for connection and transformation.  It’s my favorite time of the year, a time marked by grace and divine beauty made visible in the world with blossoming trees and signs of renewal all over the earth.  It should be the best book we read all year!  And so as I start to plan the 2015 Lent Party, I need your help selecting a readalong for the blog.

Last year I put together a small faith sharing group at my parish and we met each week to discuss Sarah Parson’s book A Clearing Season.  What a blessing that was for all of us!  My group of strangers drew closer to God and one another, and I hope to facilitate that journey again but perhaps with a different kind of book–one not so lessony as spiritual.  After emailing the group to let them know I’d be leading another retreat, many have responded with “here I ams” and hoorays, so I hope you, too, might consider participating in a readalong with us.  My small group will meet each week, but I will write weekly reflections for my virtual participants.  These weekly Lenten Reflections are posted on my sister blog, The Province of Joy, and I invite you to read along with us and share your own reflections.  I had many lurkers last year, people who visited and read but did not post, so my hope this year is that if two or three gather with me we can get some great conversations started.  Could it be you?

Now the idea is that you would buy the book and read it during Lent, peruse my reflections and then when you feel moved by the spirit share your thoughts, too.  Why not look over these suggested titles below and leave a comment to let me know if any of them sound like something you’d enjoy reading and discussing as part of your spiritual practice during Lent.  In the coming weeks I will consider all possibilities and announce the selected book before Ash Wednesday.

LentRolheiser

Sacred Fire: A Vision for a Deeper Human and Christian Maturity by Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

 

LentMartin

Jesus: A Pilgrimage by James Martin, SJ

 

LentBarbara

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

 

LentMerton

Lent and Easter: Wisdom from Thomas Merton

 

LentTherese

Lent and Easter: Wisdom from St. Therese of Lisieux

 

confessions

The Confessions of St. Augustine

When we pray we speak to God; but when we read, God speaks to us.

– St. Jerome

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here comes santa claus, fur reals

Santa Claus is a woman.  She is.  Oh, I know you’ve seen those Santas at the mall, those men in eco-friendly fake fur with their synthetic white beards.  Okay, so maybe your mall Santa is a retired motorcycle salesman with an authentic scraggly beard, but come on now.  We all know they’re imposters.  Leaders of all kinds have traditionally been men and so it goes with Santa, right?  It makes sense to dress him up in the suit, hand him the reigns of the sleigh and smile in your apron strings as he gets all the credit.  But we know.  We know.

Earlier this year after losing a few more teeth and scratching her head at the glitter trail left by the toothfairy, my littlest love — almost a middle schooler who’d be mercilessly teased for still believing in toothfairies —  finally figured out that I’ve been the magic all along.  We had a conversation in the car about it, and she conceded.  In the saddest voice, she turned her head towards me and gazed out over those glasses of hers and said, If you’re the toothfairy, then are you Santa, too?  Yup.

And that was it.  A huge rite of passage, done.  No more Santa!  Hooray!!!  We could all relax now.  We can tone this whole Christmas thing down and get to bed by midnight on Christmas Eve.  And I won’t need to stress over those Santa letters or steam them open anymore or listen to any, I don’t need to write a letter, mama, Santa will know what I want.  I can finally put my magic boots away and rest my tired, weary from shopping bones by the fire.

If you’ve been reading this blog over the years you know I have mixed feelings about Santa.  My father was the best Santa, which was wonderful, of course, but when you have a Dad like that, who late on Christmas Eve will actually scale a rickety step ladder, hoist himself up onto an icy roof and then stomp around over your bedroom ceiling so you’ll believe already and hurry off to sleep, well, it sets the bar pretty high.  To pass that magic on to my little loves, my Santa skills have had to become legendary.  Like the time I forgot to leave something under the tree, a small but coveted stuffed cheetah I’d bought too early to remember where I’d hid it.  When I discovered it stashed in a cupboard a few days after Christmas, I tossed it haphazardly in a potted plant beneath the chimney and brought little love outside, exclaiming innocently, Look!  What’s that?  Oh my goodness!  That must’ve fallen out of Santa’s sleigh.  You should have seen the huge eyes, the looking up toward the roof, and the smile.  Well-honed, legendary skills I tell you.  So legendary that until just this last year littlest still BELIEVED.

Now that we’re all clear there’s no fat man coming down the chimney with a sack full of presents, though, she wants to act like the game is still on.  Can we just make like there’s still a Santa?  Can we still wait until Christmas morning to put out all our presents?  Sure, love.  And by the way, what are you talking about?  There is a Santa: me.  She laughs.  Mom, Santa is a man.  Oh no, I insist, egging her on.  Santa is a woman.  You’re looking right at her.  Mom, I’ve seen Santa.  Santa is a man!  You mean all those phonies in the shopping malls?  Those guys are just dressing up and pretending to be Santa.  Santa’s a woman.

She giggles as she hops out of the car at school and just before she closes the door on me scrunches up her face and insists one last time, Santa is a man!  We’ve found a way to play like the game is still on, like Santa is still real somehow.  Still fun.  And after thinking all day of how to keep the game going and convince her he’s a woman, it suddenly dawns on me.  Once we’re back in the car together and on our way home, I ask if the Santa who came to her school for Red & Green day was a woman.  She laughs and takes the bait.  Of course not, mom.  Santa is a man.  And that’s when I hit her with my most convincing argument yet.  She goes to Catholic school, so I start by asking her demurely, so what does Santa mean?  Saint.  Duh.  Very good, I say.  Now what about all those cities over the hill from us.  What are they called again?  Let’s see?  San Jose.  Isn’t that Spanish for St. Joseph?  And what about San Francisco?  San Mateo.  And don’t forget San Diego down south.  She starts to laugh because she knows what’s coming next.  But we don’t say San Clara. No, it’s Santa Clara.  And Santa Barbara.  And Santa Rosa.  You know there’s no San Claus.  San Carlos, yes, but no San Claus.  It’s Santa Claus, pal.  And Santa . . . is a woman.

Merry Christmas!

If you want to tell people the truth [about Santa], make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.

~ Oscar Wilde


If you liked this post, you might enjoy believe or on (re)learning how to listen to trees

 

 

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