This year, I started Holy Week feeling unsettled instead of reflective, so I went hunting for art to celebrate the season. I reached out to friends for recommendations of songs, poems, and visual art. Below are some highlights which made Easter more meaningful for me and my family this year.
Not all of these are appropriate for young children. When offering the stories of Easter to my kids, I try to keep in mind the gentle way angel children learn of the Lord’s crucifixion–with only an “idea of a tomb” and other gentle images offered with “incomparable care and reverence” (Heaven and Hell 335).
I love the disciples’ varied expressions in “Jesus Washing the Feet of his Disciples” by Albert Gustaf Aristides Edelfelt: thoughtful, uncomfortable, annoyed, touched.
With vibrant colors and strong lines, Rose Datoc Dall captures the breathless joy of the three women in “First News of the Resurrection.”
Henry Ossawa Tanner painted many scenes from the Lord’s life, and it’s hard to find them separately, so happy scrolling.
“Peter and John Running to the Tomb of Christ” by Eugene Bernand gets me every time. The expressions on the disciples’ faces, the light, the moment–all wonderful.
Continue reading Art For Easter
It’s an honor and a challenge to keep track of the moving pieces of a home. Beyond the shopping, cooking, and cleaning, there’s the education and emotional needs of kids, the connection with a spouse, and–if there’s time left–care for my own body and mind. No wonder I’m tired a lot of the time.
A few years ago, I came across a term that helped me frame my exhaustion: “mental load.” It’s the responsibility of noticing needs, making decisions, and overseeing outcomes. Homemakers have a thousand things to think about, a household of people and goods to tend to. Check out Dr. Lucia Ciciolla’s work for more about her studies on mental load and its effect on women.
A passage from one of Swedenborg’s posthumous works gives me some peace when the busy-ness of earthly life gets overwhelming.
Before the battle [a soldier] raises his mind to the Lord, and commits his life into His hand; and after he has done this, he lets his mind down from its elevation into the body and becomes brave; the thought of the Lord–which he is then unconscious of remaining still in his mind, above his bravery. And then if he dies, he dies in the Lord; if he lives, he lives in the Lord. (Charity 166)
Sometimes I feel like I’m in the trenches, battling combat fatigue. So I try to schedule times of “raising my mind,” like regular reading of the Word, prayer, and blessings at meals. In between those times, it sounds like I can trust the Lord to carry my intention through the rest of my life. He promises to lighten my burdens and give me rest–not from our work, but in my soul.
Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. (Matthew 11:29)
“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
I have had something in front of my face a lot this year that isn’t the Lord: a screen. That’s not a problem in itself. I started a podcast, dove deep into writing, and stayed connected with loved ones during a pandemic.
But unless I’m very disciplined, I find the screen becomes a bit of a false idol–something I appeal to for a solution before I turn to the Lord or another local human for help and connection.
Maybe it sounds extreme, but I believe smartphones are to my generation what cigarettes were to my grandparents and great-grandparents: widespread, addictive, socially acceptable, and loaded with unintended consequences.
I’m not here to say that screens are evil and that we should go back to papyrus. One minister I know says, “Technology is neutral.” My phone and computer are tools, and it’s what I do with them that matters.
Continue reading Screen Time
I’ve had a humiliating year, in many senses of the word. Before 2019, my body was young, obedient to my wishes, and in decent shape. Thanks to a healthy childhood and easy young adulthood, my mental health was balanced. Looking back, I was kind of proud of myself for having it together–as if I’d done everything right and deserved my good health. I was even hard-hearted about others’ poor health. Pull it together, people.
But a difficult pregnancy and a rough postpartum has changed a lot. After the birth of my baby, I began to suffer from clinical-level anxiety, hypochondria, and pain more intense than childbirth. I could hardly recognize my body or my mind; I felt like a different person than 2018 me. I was so wrapped up in my own suffering that COVID and civil unrest barely registered on my radar.
I’d never been good at asking for help or admitting weakness. My primary emotion surrounding my situation was embarrassment. It was my fault, and my problem to hide. I must’ve done something wrong. What was wrong with me, that I couldn’t take care of myself, much less my family and home?
Continue reading Humiliation