We have a friend who is a funeral director and he is so good at including kids in the process of a funeral and saying good-bye. I think it’s important to be able to ask questions when you are a kid. I think it’s important for adults to listen and answer as they are able. Grieving is tough. It’s especially tough when you have never experienced something like this before. Funeral directors, pastors, counsellors all sorts of folks want to walk with you as you grieve. Simple questions might be easy to answer like where did Grandma’s legs go? (Because only half the casket is open) It might be a tough question like what is heaven like. Being honest is good- it’s ok to say I don’t know but here is what I think- or let’s go find out together. Being vulnerable and brave all at the same time can be a gift to your children in this very difficult time.
I admit that I am paranoid about food. I don’t mean that I am a picky eater. I like basically everything except papayas (and even those I will eat if placed in front of me). I mean that, no matter how much I try to talk myself out of it, I am deep-down troubled by what is in and/or on our food.
When our baby was ready to start solid food, I went to a workshop about feeding kids. The talk had a lot of very useful information about nutrition, and, as expected, suggested rather strongly that organics are best. This didn’t help with my inner turmoil. My brain started whirring: “We can’t afford to eat only organics! We can buy only organics for baby, but then I have to make separate food for her! I don’t have time for this! Of course she will only want the non-organic food off my plate!”
Food has long been an issue of faith for me. The eco-theology I learned at Camp Edgewood’s summer and high-school programs is the reason I am mostly vegetarian and why I try to eat local. An understanding of the earth as sacred has changed both my consumer choices and my community relationships. I often think that we don’t take what we consume seriously enough. I know somewhere in the bible a picnic came down from heaven and a voice told Paul to stop being so picky – but in our day and age shouldn’t we be considering how what we consume connects with our faith?
From Monsanto’s desire to sponsor Canada Food Grains Bank (Red Flag!!!) to paper-like (what are they actually made of!?) communion wafers, faith and food are complexly connected in the ELCIC. But in my home and on a budget, what can I do? (no, I am not going to make the communion bread every week!)
My anxiety about what I put into my baby has been significantly better motivation than my anxiety about what I feed myself. My partner and I have found that it is actually affordable to get a CSA (community supported agriculture) food box. Thanks to Grand River Organics, we pay less than $30 a week for fresh organic local food and we pick it right up from around the corner. Of course, on our budget not everything in our kitchen is organic. However, I would estimate the food box is ¾ of the food we eat in a week.
It took a long time to find an option that works for us at the moment. However, what should be more central to living out one’s daily rituals of faith than food? The dinner table is the extension of the communion table – it is where we literally nourish ourselves with life that rises from death. Fruits and vegetables grow from the compost of decomposing life and bring us life. I guess I take my food theology pretty seriously, maybe a little too seriously, but it really nags at me – how can we ignore the connections between our central ritual, our daily consumption of food and the ripples our consumer choices make in our bodies and around the world?
What about thinking about how your holiday time might benefit someone else? I have heard of friends who volunteer somewhere together- helping out an area in need like travelling to another province to volunteer for Red cross after a disaster- but it doesn’t have to be a big trip it can be volunteering at a clean-up day in your community or a camp. This past week my son and I went to camp together- I volunteered as a chaplain and he went to day camp and in the evenings we had a blast living at camp- participating in life at camp together outside of our usual life bubble. Time together doing something for others really made a difference in our family. It was the best week of the summer!
A few weeks ago, my son Nathaniel started to crawl. Not soon after he realized that if he shuffled his way over to the coffee table, he could easily pull himself up. Of course the third, and quite natural lesson, was that if he isn't careful, he will fall.
And that's precisely what happened. He fell - and he cried.
And my heart broke.
I am convinced that there is nothing more heartbreaking than to hear a child you love, and for whom you are responsible, break down in tears because they have been hurt. In that moment, I was willing to do just about anything to take away the pain that my son was feeling. I wanted him to know joy and laughter.
Well if we, as parents, so desperately want to take away the pain that our children feel - imagine just how much more God desires to restore joy and happiness to our lives once more. I've preached them many times - but it wasn't until I became a parent that I truly came to understand it. God longs for us to know joy amidst sorry - God wants us to find love amidst hatred - and God made it possible for us to find forgiveness in a world that often seems void of second-chances.
As people of faith, we learn to crawl. Not soon after we begin to pull ourselves up. And of course at some point, we will cry to God for help. The promise is that God hears the heartbreaking cries of God's people - and God longs nothing more than to turn our mourning into dancing.
After all, isn't that what parents are for?
I think it is fairly routine that once your baby is no longer a baby – getting to be obviously a toddler – a person begins to think again about having another baby. Perhaps this, is what has got me thinking about how one day I will be having “the talk” with my daughter. This thought seems to change the way I think about how I manage my own body and how I contextualize my attitude towards reproduction and birth control. After all, I suppose I will have to “fess up” to my daughter in about a decade!
Thinking about reproductive rights in relation to faith often leads to a series of very dangerous statements which limit a woman’s ability to both understand and control her physical being. But I don’t think it needs to be this way. In fact, I think approaching one’s body as a sacred piece of a larger sacred creation should rather encourage us to understand our bodies and treat ourselves with respect. I should clarify that I am beginning from the standpoint that I believe it is a woman’s right to choose when and how she conceives a baby. But, I also think that “a woman’s right to choose” does not preclude the responsibility of thinking faithfully about how one chooses to manage her reproductive life.
So, from the standpoint of viewing life –my life, a baby’s life, the planet’s life, your life– as sacred, my question is: what questions do I, as a person of faith, need to address for myself when family planning? Here is the list of questions that, at the moment, I think I would encourage my daughter to think about when she gets to the stage of considering her reproductive life.
On Not Having a Baby