I had a friend once observe about Lenten disciplines that, while they shouldn’t be used as just another way to try to address our bad habits, there was some comfort in trying out a discipline without the pressure of “forever.” As I shared the last time I wrote in this space about my family’s Advent spiritual practices, my son once remarked that for a house with two priests we aren’t very religious. So as we look toward our participation in The Good Book Club daily Scripture reading, I’m reminding myself of my friend’s take on Lent.
Will we suddenly become a family that cheerily sits down to our daily Bible reading, each offering precious gems of wisdom to each other in our spiritual journeys? Will we leave behind the arguments about who has to say grace? Will we stop wondering how short can that grace possibly be while still offering some sentiment of gratitude for our food, mindfulness of the needs of others, and maybe some mention of Jesus or God? (Note that there is never a debate about who gets to say grace).
I’m not holding my breath, but I’m still looking forward to participating.
My hope is that in embarking on something that is a shared discipline, it can be *shared.* I have my own spiritual disciplines, my husband has his, and of course we all go to church. For my husband and me, though, church is our spiritual calling, and it’s also our job. Our kids know that attending church isn’t a free will choice in our household. At the same time, I’m looking forward to helping them carve out a space of their own spiritual journeys and questions, a way to explore faith and doubt without the burden of performance or expectation. I want them to feel fed by what they find in their own practice of the Christian faith, and begin thinking through how they can express it as they each feel called.
This is a fine line.
We do make them go to church. We also make them eat vegetables, because they aren’t old enough to make their own decisions responsibly. I guess what I am hoping for is that the Good Book Club will be something that can truly be shared by all of us, in a way that we each feel free. I know my kids already have their own interior lives. I hope in this endeavor that I get to listen in a little.
Spiritual disciplines are still disciplines; you do have to work at them! But the hope is that the overall structure of them becomes its own nourishment, as well as whatever sweetness emerges from moment to moment. One of the things that feeds me most in my own prayer life is silent contemplation; sometimes my mind is an expansive jungle of chatter; other times, it’s blissfully silent. But if I gave up every time I felt that chatter, I’d never receive the gifts that come through silence. You can’t make the wind blow through the window, but it sure as heck isn’t going to blow in unless it’s open.
From a practical perspective, I will print out the reading schedule.
I will make sure we have Bibles nearby. I plan to use my Common English Study Bible and Amy-Jill Levine’s Jewish New Testament, which is New Revised Standard with her commentary.
Other than that, are we getting ready to get down?
I can’t say we are. But I’m excited.
Is your family participating in the Good Book Club this year?
How are you getting ready to get down?
How can we support you?