Little Liturgies

As we enter the season of Advent, those readers familiar with liturgical churches will recognize this season as one filled with ritual, ceremony, and memory. Part of the magic of attending worship during Advent is the addition of special rituals like lighting the candles on an advent wreath or singing hymns not sung at other times in the year. My favorite is the evocative hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” during Wednesday night services.

Often, however, just showing up to service means a frantic herding of children, changing the baby’s outfit that inevitably gets dirtied five minutes before we were going to leave, and the search for shoes. (Why are shoes everywhere when I don’t want them, but nowhere when I need them?) But we keep dragging ourselves to church, even if it means we’re flustered, unkempt, or late. Usually those are the times the sermon’s meant just for us, or the reading is especially poignant.

Now is also when many of us start to get a little stagnant in our homeschools. We’re prepping for Thanksgiving and gearing up for the massive event-filled month of December. One look ahead at the calendar or to-do list can set us in another heap of fluster. With all that’s going on, it’s tricky to stay enthusiastic about our school day.

We can take a hint from the church calendar and think about what little “liturgies” our family practices, then try to emphasize or rejuvenate those.

Is it prayers together before bedtime? Is it pancakes every Saturday morning? Is it poetry teatime? My kids, for example, know when the guitar starts in the morning, it’s Morning Time. They’ll get to bounce around to some camp songs, practice some hymns and memory work from poetry, Scripture, and Shakespeare, and end up snuggled on the couch while I read aloud.

Well, ideally, it will be that joyful and peaceful. But I don’t think even the most generous person would describe my home as idyllic.

I keep trying these little liturgies because I keep hoping to tame the crazy even just for a few minutes.

More often than not, read-aloud times look like three little girls crawling All. Over. Me. while one boy acts out Power Ranger moves. “There can’t possibly be any way anyone is hearing this story,” I think. Forty-seven interruptions later, we finally finish–my voice hoarse and everyone chomping at the bit to disperse.

From Mundane to Magical

Every now and then, though, I get something magical like the other day. We had just finished up math, after a tumultuous morning. (Seriously, if I’m not ready with the oatmeal when my kids’ feet hit the floor in the morning, it’s gonna get rough until everyone has full bellies.) Anyway, we were taking a break when the three oldest proceeded to “play” in that fighting over toys sort of way. The volume was quickly rising in my house. (I always silently judged those moms of kids who scream. Then I become one of them. Good one, God.)

Then the baby and I sat down on the couch with a new book from the library and just started quietly reading aloud.

Tractor beam sucked ’em right in. You can call me the Pied Piper.

Not only did I feel like the most brilliant mom in the world for effortlessly calming the hollering over unsharable toys, but I managed to have my big 8-year-old boy snuggled on one side, and my feisty, but tamed for the moment 3-year-old snuggled under my other arm, I remember thinking that it truly doesn’t get any better than this.

It really doesn’t.

I hope they remember times like that, too. Even if they don’t, I will.

November homeschooling is a time to keep trying those little liturgies because of that off-chance you’ll get something really memorable. If your household is like mine–often loud and crazy–that lovely, soul-nourishing cup of calm is worth the effort.

Other good things:

RAR #35: Reading Aloud with Toddlers (and other littles) underfoot

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