Sunday, December 07, 2008

Week 2: Solitude and Silence

We are going into week two of Mama Squirrel's Advent ideas, which she culled from Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline. This week is about solitude and silence, prayer. I'm so glad it is about prayer. Lately, I seem to spend most of my prayer life praying that the Lord will bless me to *pray*. I've been pondering the practice of the presence of God, trying to seek it. My own will is so strong in other directions. Or weak, as Charlotte would say. Something unlawful has the ear of the prime minister, if you know what I mean.

At any rate, I plan to read aloud Ann's beautiful post tomorrow (thanks, Mama Squirrel!), and we will sing a song each day that reflects solitude and stillness.

Being still is so difficult at this time in history. That cannot be an excuse. But it is hard. So many things vie for our attention, so many noisome distractions clang in the mind.

Several years ago, when I was going through a rough time, a friend gave me a little porcelain boxes. On it were the words, "Be still and know that I am God." She suggested that I write out my prayer requests (they felt more like desperate demands at that time) and slip them into the box and leave them there for a few months, then come back and read them and realize how the Lord provided. I'm planning to do that with the children this week.

We can be still because our help comes from the Lord.

We will read Psalm 121 together:

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

One of our favorite little picture books is the story of The Big Green Pocketbook. In it, the little girl collects mementoes and treasures from a morning in town with her mother. After she gets home, she discovers that her pocketbook, with her whole morning in it, has been lost. She is distressed. But the very next picture shows her sitting quietly in the center of the living room, very still. I'm not sure what she is supposed to be doing, but I like to think that she is praying the Lord will return her treasure. Later, the bus driver stops by their house again, with her pocketbook. (She makes sure to give him a present as a thank-you-- a picture she drew using her new crayons.)

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost is a good poem for this week.

There is a Louisa May Alcott Christmas story that goes along with being alone and still, praying and hoping. (You knew I would find one, didn't you?) I think this week we will read Patty's Place, the story of an orphan girl who goes from an orphanage inmate, to servant-girl, and finally, through the help of a special "aunt", finds her place in a family.

Mama Squirrel has some very good ideas in her original advent post, scroll down to Week 2.

(On a somewhat silly note, I have been listing our Advent activities under "Life Skills" in the Homeschool Tracker. Triss thought that was amusing. I'm not sure it is a perfect fit, but Simplicity, Stillness and Solitude are life skills, among other things.)

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