There are so many discussions around the internet these past few week. Most of them focused on Modesty. I thought I'd share some of my favorites - starting with Jenna's Plea to Homeschoolers and the collection of links back to articles she found encouraging. I did not grow up in a family overly focused on modesty, marriage, and preparation for family life, so I don't have the scars these girls do - I also don't have the excuse they do for my own awful adolescent fashion sense. When my sister mailed me a collection of photos she'd saved, and I saw myself at the height of my horror all I could do was shudder and stare..and dump them in the burn pile (Seth rescued them because he's cruel that way). But I echo Jenna's plea to "please teach your girls - especially your cautious ones - to find and pursue interests, including interests outside teh home. To look for good work to do and to do it confidently. To smile and converse with and befriend boys as well as girls. To hold their heads up and look men in the eyes as equals, choose husbands who respect women, and give those husbands their respect out of choice, not out of instinct and fear."
The most delightful article on modesty and breastfeeding making the rounds yesterday, and I couldn't resist sharing it with everyone I met. I actually never got many negative comments when Yarrow was nursing a lot out in public, though neither of us liked to cover up, and I nursed her everywhere. It might have been because I didn't really expect to get any comments or because of my very intimidating personality. But I know plenty of girls who are consistently harassed, who really feel the disapproving stares of their mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and friends, and so are suffering needlessly through Liturgies, dinners parties, County Fairs, and wedding receptions. Don't. Please. You're not immodest. One of my greatest inspirations as a nursing mother is a woman I never met. I saw her at a Liturgy once, the Cantor's wife sitting in the front row looking dark and serene as her tiny boy nursed his fill. She looked like an Icon and the image has nestled deep in my soul. Motherhood, worship, beauty, peace - all at once, and perfectly fitted to the moment.
Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits had a fantastic post last week on The Social Costs of Being Different. I've mentioned my own surprise at discovering some of them for myself, and he offers some helpful thoughts and some perspective; and every time I step outside into the early morning air and see the last of the stars fading, I remember just how much I cherish those differences.
And this 'Introduction to Catholicism and Modern American Poetry' was fascinating! I found it through Tuscany Press, and read it through about four times as Yarrow pointed to various words and side images to ask "What's that!?". There is a lot to ponder, and a lot to affect the artist who does want to feed and be fed from the larger tradition; who wants to understand and relate to modern poetry, not just what many Catholics consider to be 'safe', traditional verse.
"Artistic modernism in general has something to it of the incipiently Catholic. Modernist art sought both to strike against modernity..and to find a place for divinely constituted meaning and order within the modern condition."
Food for thought, isn't it?
Here's just a taste of what I've been doing all month:
..not to mention
|Pesto!!! We made tons of it, gave some away, ate some fantastic lime-thai basil with shrimp, and froze the rest! But we still have basil to process..and it better be soon, the nights are getting frosty.|
"A thriving Christian community requires its members to think beyond their own preferences, about how personal decisions impact others. But, as I watched hoards of my male peers bounding across the lawn wearing nothing but flimsy track shorts—think Juno's Paulie Bleeker—I wondered if they had received any wisdom or direction about their dress. Is modesty a virtue only for women?"
Asks Katelyn Beaty of Her-meneutics. And sometimes we do get that impression. A blogger complained recently about inappropriately seductive facebook photos among her son's friends, alongside photos of her teen boys flexing their muscles on the beach. She later replace the photos, but I can't help but wonder about the mindset that forces us to see women's bodies as inherently sexual and threatening, while men's bodies are neither. I also am disturbed by the 'one strike and you're out in our family' tone the blogger uses towards these under-dressed girls. If I had the same policy online, it's possible I'd never go back to her page after seeing her beach-clad sons cavorting through a post on covering up. But, as Beaty reminds us at Her-meneutics, modesty is about more than clothing, it's "about viewing ourselves humbly" and adorning ourselves 'with a gentle spirit', which includes forgiveness and kind admonishment rather than shunning and shaming for those who fall short.
And finally..Kendra, who writes a blog I love to read opened a can of worms a while ago with a post on crying it out. I don't agree with her conclusions in this, and it always makes me sad to read about methods of sleep training that give my imagination too much to feed on, but my thoughts here aren't about that so much as they are about the discussion I saw in the combox. I've copied the relevant parts below:
Commenter: I just can not imagine that baby's sad and scared thought, crying out for their momma, and being ignored. Breaks my heart.
Kendra: Your comment breaks MY heart. I wouldn't want to lay that guilt..on a mom who has made the difficult decision to do what works for her family...
Both are perfectly reasonable responses, and I was so impressed with Kendra for managing to keep such a hot-button issue polite, but I've encountered a trend toward being almost too polite in the blogging community (paired with the awful, angry commentators we all shy away from) so often and it worries me. If as the commenter and I see it - ignoring the baby's cries as he sits alone in his room is an unkindness to him, would it not also be an unkindness on my part to avoid pointing it out, to keep quiet for the sake of 'niceness' or to preserve the feelings of others? I'm not saying we should all turn shill and angry at the first hint parenting divisions, but I do think everyone benefits when we're called to re-examine our decisions on a continual basis.
The commenter ends her post with these fantastic thoughts:
"I do hope and believe that all moms are doing their best for their children. And the CIO method just doesn't agree with what I consider "doing my best." But I'm sure I do plenty of other things that others might perceive as not my best. We're all works in progress, right?"
What a blessed way to end an attempt to encourage reflection in each other. We are all works in progress, and the path toward sainthood is a hard road; hopefully we can all give and receive support, advice, and admonition with gratitude and grace. Never abandoning kindness in favor of mere niceness.
What do you think? Blessings to all!