Emily Gowdy Canady mentioned in a recent post that so many of her family’s faith-at-home practices have fallen by the wayside as her children have entered their tween and teen years. Our family is in a similar situation. Gone are the Holy Week Lego creations, the home altar bursting with treasures discovered in the yard and artwork brought home from church and school, and the early morning race to the fridge to color Jay Sidebotham’s Lent and Advent calendars. We’ve replaced these traditions with participating in the Good Book Club and engaging in regular ethical and theological discussions as a household.
While I’m grateful for my kids’ spiritual maturation, I long for the tactical faith-at-home rituals of their younger years. The moments we spent talking about John the Baptist while preparing Grasshopper Pie or reading from their illustrated Bibles followed up by singing the Song of Simeon before bed. Bonnie Smith Whitehouse’s new book Seasons of Wonder feels like a way for our family to return to these familiar practices in a deeper, more meaningful way. A way that invites curiosity and cultivates trust, wonder, and astonishment.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve texted or spoken the words, “It’s so beautiful. It’s a Grow Christians book for adults. I love it.” since receiving Seasons of Wonder last month. As Grow Christians strives to equip adults with the tools needed to observe liturgical seasons, feast days and commemorations of holy people, Seasons of Wonder strives to equip adults with the tools needed to observe the sanctity of everyday life. Bonnie, a member of the Grow Christians community herself, hopes this book will broaden readers’ understanding of divinity by helping us take note of “the shocking but joyful little moments” of our lives. She’s expertly crafted rituals of reflection, wondering, and doing for every week of the year.
It’s worth noting that this is a weekly devotional, not a daily one. It feels doable for a family with children engaged in multiple after school activities or for an adult who returns home exhausted from the day’s work. The entries for each week are two-to-three pages long. They begin with a short quotation from a variety of people, including Howard Thurman, Austin Channing Brown, Bob Dylan, Jesus of Nazareth, and Madeleine L’Engle. Bonnie Smith Whitehouse then reflects on the appointed theme of the week and follows up with questions to prompt wondering and conversation on that subject. The weekly devotions close with something to try—try to conjure up a small painting of a memory, try taking care of a caregiver in your community, try recording people you love telling their stories. And every so often, Bonnie includes something to make—a time capsule, hot cross buns, an Advent wreath—and something from our Episcopal liturgical tradition to discover—Candlemas, Evensong, Holy Week.
It is my hope that our family will use this book on Sunday nights at the dinner table. Sundays have devolved into FFY (Fend For Yourself) dinner nights, thanks to the exhaustion of two clergy parents who cannot bolster the energy required to prepare a family meal. As a result, the four of us tend to eat at different times and in different locations in the house. I can see Seasons of Wonder pulling us back together as a family unit before we embark on a new week. It will likely still be an FFY dinner, but we can eat simultaneously around the same table, taking turns reading the weekly quotation and devotion. Then wondering aloud as we eat our cereal, egg sandwiches, toaster waffles, and leftovers.
This book goes on sale tomorrow, November 15th as both an e-book and hardcover book. But today, you can access a Seasons of Wonder Thanksgiving guide to use next week and Advent calendar to use the week following. The Thanksgiving resource includes a storytelling guide to use during your feast on Thursday as well as small suggestions for things to do on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, when Advent begins. When the first season of our liturgical year begins, you can pull up the the Seasons of Wonder Advent calendar where you’ll find prompts to help your preparations for Christmas. Simply scan the QR code below to download the Thanksgiving and Advent resources.
I am grateful for the wisdom and the love Bonnie Smith Whitehouse poured into the creation of this resource. I look forward to the projects, prayers, and rituals that will help our household notice the sacred, ordinary moments of the year ahead.