Tomorrow morning, I will be up at 5:00 a.m., leaving for a plane to California--one of my favorite Mom Heart conferences. After all, I am leaving snowy, cold Colorado for 70's degrees and beaches. I will be the whitest person around with freckles instead of a tan, but I will also be so happy to have a few days of sunshine, seeing my precious children and getting to see close friends. Wanted to give you some great blogs while I take a day or two off to be fully present at our conferences.
FEBRUARY CATCH UP FROM THOROUGHLY ALIVE WITH SARAH CLARKSON
To my shock (and slight panic), it’s already the third week of term, and my, but it’s off to a swift start!
I find it difficult to compose long contemplations amidst the here-and-there schedule of lectures (the required ones and the half dozen I attend just because, good grief, it’s Oxford and I can – I mean, could you resist attending a talk by Rowan Williams, or a lecture on Caravaggio combined with a study of the Bible as literature, or a meeting of the C.S. Lewis society with John Garth speaking on the Great War? – because I sure can’t). Between lectures, I tromp the cobblestones down to the Radcliffe Camera to cram in a few desperate hours of essay composition, I stop in every bookshop I can, haunt the Evensong services, and on Saturdays, I go for long walks in the fields and coffee-sipping, letter-writing sessions at a slower pace.
My goal is to return to a more regular rhythm of creative, contemplative writing in the next weeks, which should find its gradual way here. Though there is the constant, never-ending possibility of another social or academic activity here, there is also, to my mind at least, a daily invitation to step aside. I find the invitation, as you know, in morning and evening prayer, in the half hours set aside to kneel or watch in silence, to speak the old words of Scripture. A life this demanding isn’t sustainable without silence. I’m learning that, and learning how to fight for my quiet as an element necessary to the flourishing of soul and mind. I need hush in which to meet the one voice echoing at back of all the others, the one great Love whose pulse make every word and thought discovered here a grace. And to write about it all is, for me, a sort of prayer.
For now, in lieu of contemplations, I offer a brief summary of my current study focus, and the books stretching heart and thought and mind as I go.
My current work is on an extended essay in doctrine. When I glanced down the essay title possibilities page and spotted “Christology Explored Through Literature” guess what I chose? I’ve spent the past several weeks exploring various doctrines of Christology, focusing particularly on the Incarnation. I want to understand exactly what happened when Christ took on flesh, what redemptive quickening took place by the mere fact of his present, human life. Jesus proclaimed the kingdom come far before he died, and I want to understand, in rather technical terms, the salvific nature of the Incarnation as something distinct from the Atonement, and what this means for human relationships, and for our interaction with physical creation. God took on flesh. He hallowed the world with his presence. How should we then live?
I’ve been reading T.F. Torrance’s Incarnation, a magisterial work of systematic theology that deeply explores the nature of the Incarnation. I’m fascinated by the concept of the Old Testament as pre-Incarnation history, by the realization that God began a process of incarnation in his dealings with Israel that culminated in Christ. And I’m challenged by the realization of what was accomplished by Christ’s human life as it was lived, and lived to the full in an active, loving obedience that offered every duty and goodness that humanity owed to God, but had, until Christ’s coming, failed to give. Torrance’s knowledge is a little staggering to a beginning student, but there is a wonder, a current of excitement thrumming through his writing. He uses superlatives to explain the beauty of what God has offered and accomplished. Sometimes, when I realize the intricacy of the plan that led to God taking human flesh, I get all bright-eyed and quiet right in the middle of the library.
FOR MORE BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS AND THE REST OF THE BLOG, GO HERE AND TELL SARAH HI!
A lovely post from a dear friend--Holly Pakiam
My Two-Year Old, My Mentor, and the Gift of Motherhood
Sometimes your 2 year old has to wait, just for a while.
Through batting eyelashes, my two year old daughter looked up at me. Struggling to get the final things together to leave for the weekend, her words seemed a distraction. “Mommy, tell me a story about when you were little.” What mother’s heart wouldn’t melt at the sound of these delightful words? But in the moment, I was distracted with tasks that seemed non-negotiable. I settled down for a minute and looked into her deep, blue eyes. It did not last much longer than a second as I quickly shifted to the next task. I was off to gather my notes, my luggage, my coat. I wish I could say I responded in the moment and took the time to tell her a story from my childhood, about some magical day lived on my family’s Iowa farm. But I didn’t. I was overwhelmed, frazzled, just trying to get out of the house in one piece, semi-put together.
I needed some space, to step away, to be surrounded by other women who are walking along a parallel path. I was looking forward to thoughtful conversation and a night’s sleep with no children in my bed. Yes, this would nourish my soul.
My mentor and friend, Sally Clarkson was leading a conference, ‘Own Your Own Life’. I was grateful to participate as a speaker on a panel, and to attend with friends and fellow moms from our church. Sally truly lives what she teaches. I know this because she has invited me into her home, her groups and her family for almost the past decade. Gently encouraging me to seek a vision for my family, for motherhood, for my life since the day we first met, Sally is a gift and her message is a rarity.
Here are a few themes that resonated with me at her conference:
Your home is a place to live, but is it a place of life? Life looks like taking the time to cuddle, pray and read with our kids each night. Life looks like taking a fifteen minute nap with my two year old at 8:30PM. After all, in this stage, a late-night cat nap with my sweet daughter will only last for a short season, and these precious moments of lying down with her will be gone before I know. Plus, this little nap gives me just the amount of energy I need to stay up a few more hours!
If you are faithful in the hidden places, these places will become the foundation of your story The very place you are is where God is building character. I hope and pray my character has been and is continuing to be shaped as I have been quietly and freely giving my life to my children. I pray that my persistence, my patience, my diligence in motherhood for years is part of the foundation from which I can now give from and lead from.
Meanwhile everyone else, stay warm and have a lovely Wednesday--I will be having lunch with my Joy, so I will be quite happy.
Be inspired today by thoughts to shape your new year!