I finished Sally Clarkson's new book today: Dancing with My Father.
This is more than just a "stop and smell the roses" book. It is that but so much more. Sally tells of a time in her life when she made a conscious decision to choose joy. She encourages her readers to recognize God and enjoy the life he gives us through the wonder of nature, relationships, our relationship with Him, and recognizing His handiwork in our daily lives even in the midst of conflicts and stressful situations. Her own personal stories are memorable, both her accounts of miraculously answered prayer as well as her honesty in relating the times of her life when she felt downright discouraged and depleted.
If I could pick a passage that represents the biggest gold nugget I will take from this book it is the following:
Many Christians tend to defend fervently their theological underpinnings and argue rigorously the tenets of doctrine. Yet often I have observed that in choosing to live only in the cerebral world of "what I know intellectually about God," they miss so much of his personality and nature, which can be observed through his role as the Artist . . .
Such an overemphasis on the academic determines that a relationship with God will be dryly but obviously absent of feeling and delight. It would be like writing or defending a long treatise on the role of a father, his character, and the history of fatherhood - separate from relating personally and intimately with him. No "report on fatherhood" would ever satisfy our need to experience life with an actual father, the life that comes from engaging in the personality, friendship, and companionship of a real live person.
God intended that we become witnesses of his beauty, design, color, and pleasure to that we could gain a more intimate, real, and personal knowledge of him. God does not want to be just a thought to know, but a personally engaging friend and Father whose relationship with is is filled with memory, delight, and moments to be experienced and enjoyed.
This book is exactly what I needed to read. In this stage of life I am struggling trying to homeschool three children with a distracting chatterbox of a three year old who rarely plays quietly with the plethora of educational toys I get for her each day and a new baby who obviously needs and demands my arms and attention. By 10:00 am I often feel scattered and short tempered and anything but joyful. I help the children memorize answers to the Baltimore Catechism (and while it is helpful to develop the memory and have ready answers) I wonder what kind of personal relationship with God each of them are really developing. Do we "say" our prayers as a family or intimately pray them? Do we sit through Mass waiting for the end or really worship God? Does the beauty and reverence of the Traditional Mass we attend inspire closeness to God or make religion too formal and academic for our children?
Questions to ponder and pray about . . .