Nobody recites the old “sticks and stones” nursery rhymes anymore. Today we are quite certain that words have the capacity to leave us scarred. But words can do other things, too. Well-chosen ones give us hope, create connections, and help us perceive our lives more clearly.
They can turn our attention toward what is good and what is true.
Jennifer Grant, in her new release Wholehearted Living: Five-Minute Reflections for Modern Moms, begins by outlining a few things that get my momsense stirring and my momtuition raving…in a good way.
She calls the book “a ‘pause’ button for mothers who want to take a break from talk of juice boxes and snow pants in favor of confronting their fears or reconnecting with their dreams.”
The book delivers what it promises. I’ll admit I didn’t have the time to read all 365 of the daily reflections, but I did sample through them enough to know this is the kind of book that:
- Most moms need to read and dip into and out of.
- Will be a great gift for quite a few of the moms I know.
- Won’t go out of style anytime soon.
The book divides the year into three parts: Reflect, Risk, and Rest. You begin in January with reflection, and then, as May begins, you start to look at risk, and you end the year, just as school starts up in September, with rest.
It’s a pattern that spoke to my life, to the way the ebbs and flows of my own experience of momness.
Today, for example, we read this:
December 4: Christ before Me
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
— St. Patrick
Advent invites us to take a break from twinkly lights and sugar cookies and contemplate the coming of Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
The author of Hebrews wrote, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets as many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.”
Through whom he made the universe. What?
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being . . . . After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 1:1-3, NIV).
So, before Christ, God was revealed in miracles; but in the Incarnation, God was revealed as a person, Jesus Christ. And they made the universe together?
What does the Incarnation mean to you? How would you explain it to a child?
While Grant references talk that makes me think of moms with younger children, I don’t necessarily think this book is limited to the scope of young moms or moms with young families. That’s the place she’s writing from, and it’s a place many moms have been and/or are. It’s a hard place, a crucible unlike any other.
The reflections aren’t long; their brevity is almost unparalleled in a book of this sort. And yet, as Grant herself notes, “a good five minutes actually makes a difference, affecting how we relate with others and how we perceive our lives for the rest of the day.”
Opening and using this book — whether you dip into it or swim around for a while — won’t leave you with something else to do. Grant has explicitly avoided doing more than giving you a reason to sit and reflect with her for five minutes. She’s planting a seed in those five (or less) minutes, one that may just sprout into more throughout your day.
Though this book has many Catholic undertones, it’s not explicitly Catholic in the way that many books I endorse and read are. You could as easily give this to any Christian friend (practicing or not), and she would appreciate the quote or scripture that opens each day, the short reflection, and the one or two reflection questions that close each day.
This truly is a book, as Grant says in the introduction, “for moments when you feel drawn toward the divine, as well as for those times when you feel like your frailties are holding you captive and you really just want to stand in the corner, face the wall, and scream.”