Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Cultivating the Space in September

We are going to our neighborhood pool almost every day as the summer season draws to an end.

My husband would have a fit if he knew I wrote such things about summer and it ending, but with our AC still out (weep weep) I definitely want fall this

I have told myself we will start schooling the week after labor day weekend, but I think that it will be a very light easing back into routine. Are we getting up and having breakfast and getting dressed? Are we praying in the morning? Are we reading together? If I can get that going the first week I will seriously be impressed with myself. I am setting up my fall calendar by blocking off some of the car days and no car days, my Tuesdays look busiest. 

The back to school web posts and school supply bins are glaring at me. I do everything I can not to get too panicky. I really want more for my children.

Last year I thought by this time I would have started some workings of an atrium at our new home parish. Taking my children from the atrium spaces in Juneau felt like a HUGE sacrifice, and I felt a special commission to bring the good work of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd here.

I still FEEL that...but I also see, the Holy Spirit works slow.

Very slow! And it is humbling really.

Where or where or where will my children receive the freedom to grow in their relationship with God? 

From The Religious Potential of the Child:

"The preparation of the environment is another indirect aid the adult should give the child. This is a fundamental principle in the Montessori method, the importance of which all modern psychology points out. The 'atrium' in the name Maria Montessori gave to the environment dedicated to the child's religious life, recalling that space in ancient Christian basilicas which served as the anteroom of the  intermediate place between the classroom and the church. It is a place where the child comes to know the great realities of his life as a Christian, but also and above all, a place where the child begins to live these realities in meditation and prayer. There is nothing of the academic classroom about the atrium; it is not a place for religious instruction but for religious life." 

Can my home, right here, our spot, be a place where the Forbes children can come to know the great realities of their lives as Christians?

YES! YES it can be! 

Oh I find so much freedom in this! I don't have to take them anywhere. I came to the conclusion they could pursue academics in this home when I decided to homeschool, but it wasn't until I really sat with missing the work of the atrium that I understood my own home could be a place where my children grow as Christians. 

Writing it it seems so blatantly obvious.

And yet, there are certain aspects about the atrium that I love and so, in back to school fashion, I want to share a few of things that I will be working as teacher, catechist, mother this fall and I think I will title these posts as Cultivating the Space, because I want to grow in several areas.

So I have two goals to share today:

1. Let the text come alive for my children

In the atrium we we speak of text we are specifically speaking of the Gospel, but let's think about it in terms of any classic:

By presenting this or that line to the child we claim for ourselves the incandescent moment of the direct encounter with the living Word; we deny the child the originating moment of that experience. We supply the child with a product we have already worked out, and, as such, one that is limited, rather than opening up the boundless realm of God's Word before the child.  (Religious Potential of the Child pg. 54)

Through reading aloud, my children and I have journeyed to Narnia with the Penvensies, run along the Swiss Alps with Heidi and hid from goblins with Princess Irene and Curdie. I wonder if I can hold back more on the things I am getting out of these novels.  Do I really need to ask who Aslan is? I believe in conversation about the books, but I will read this year making sure the aha! moments aren't robbed from my children. I wonder if I can stay little and really learn from them.

Which is a great segway to my next goal....

2. Have an attitude of observation and listening while mingling

This is challenging for me as I tend to dominate being the extrovert I am. I habitually interrupt and nag and I constantly find ways to relate conversations to ME. Yes, so a great place to grow as a listener is right here, in my kitchen, in the den, in the hallway with my very own people.

The catechist (read mother) who does not know when to stop, who does not know how to keep silent, is one who is not conscious of one's limits...(RPC pg.52)

Maria Montessori has written some beautiful pages on the teacher's attitude with respect to the student, highlighting contrast between the solemn, aloof teacher who sits as one enthroned on high before an audience that hears without joining in, and the learned scientist who, mingling with students, observes with patience and love the phenomena of life. The latter is the attitude the educator (in my case mother) should acquire. (RPC pg.50)

I wonder if this school year, I can take the ME out more. 

I love the idea of respecting my children, but putting it into action seems impossible at times. I am not sure if I am always AWARE of how each word, each expression on my face is either respectful and loving or...not. Respect doesn't mean being fun and easygoing as a parent, those are all fine and dandy, but we are shaping souls and leaders, aren't we? I think respect has a lot to do with counting our words and truly 'getting to know' our children. Getting to know them for who they are not constantly what we are trying to project on them of ourselves, mingling with them in the freedom of our home.

Freedom in the that is something to think about too.

I would like to give a big bloggy hug this morning to Mary Clare and Janet for reaffirming the beautiful truth that our homes can grow Christians. 

Happy schooling...



  1. Steph! I am sitting here way too late at night catching up on as many of your posts as I could! I loved each one and they all spoke to me in one way or another! I feel like we just got together for coffee, so how am I going to sleep now? Oh, and you ARE high relationship and I LOVE that about you! xoxo

    1. And you commented on my blog! You are so good to me! LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU xxoo

  2. This reminds me to tell Kimber that I want my First Communion Class to get some CGS this year! My new students haven't experienced the altar yet! And ah yes, the home is for growing Christians💕🙏🏻💕