The Spe Salvi Book Club?

The Spe Salvi Book Club?

As I mentioned below, Dom and I are working our way slowly through the Pope’s new encyclical, reading a section or two a night. We read a bit and always we stop and talk about other things that it makes us think of.

That’s the great thing about reading with someone else. When you read by yourself, especially a document as dense and rich as this one, it’s easy to be overwhelmed or to have your eyes glaze over and start skimming. This shared reading what I miss most about being in school: the more people you have conversing about a text, the richer your experience of reading it, the more connections you make and insights you have. 

But here, spontaneously, online, it’s happening. In the past week it seems like many of the bloggers I follow are currently reading it. And as they find passages that speak to them, they post them with little reflections or stories. Or connect them with other things they are reading.

My favorite so far was Willa’s today at In a Spacious Place, where she connects it with a conversation with her five year old son:

When I was cuddling him to sleep a bit later we got started talking about grandparents. He is fascinated now with relationships. Who is Mama’s Dad and mom? Are those the ones you went to see in Alaska? Who are their mom and dad? Somehow the hidden truth about our lives came out. Grandma and Grandpa’s mom and dad are dead. Old people die. In fact, everybody dies eventually.

This was when I really saw him as not-a-baby-anymore. His face flushed, his eyes got bright with unshed tears, and the corners of his mouth turned down. He twisted my hair in his fingers as he questioned vehemently. Why do people die? What happens to them after they die? What if they don’t want to die? Why do they have to go away from their homes, especially if they LIKE their homes? He asked big questions, the ones that have haunted the race since before Homer’s time. He asked them in such a way that it was clear that he had some idea of the significance of the “rage against the dying of the light.” He was not satisfied with the stock, soothing, limited parental answers; he brushed them aside, and I felt a bit silly for offering them….

…Paddy, too, had bigger concerns than the answers I tried to frame to his level of maturity. Finally, he turned away abruptly and put his head under the covers and subsided into sleep.

In sleep now, his eyelashes are long and his hands are still soft and gently curled like a baby’s. I wish I could have given him better answers. I wish I could have explained to him that living forever in temporal sequence would be a curse—the Flying Dutchman. That’s something that a slightly older person could understand. It is one of the themes in Pope Benedict’s Spe Salvi…

It’s nice to be part of the club.


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  • “Do not buy a doll’s car seat, unless you want to spend a very, very long time getting everyone safely strapped in before you go anywhere.”

    Not to worry, I’m putting in too much time as it is re-diapering the dolly every hour or more. The last thing I want is to be more involved in the dolly’s care and handling. My only fear is that such things will be purchased for us by enthusiastic relatives.

  • what a great example of seeing how your child sees how you love her! and tries to do the same for her baby.

    Maybe she’s trying to get ready for sis!

    Do you remember the baby care for siblings class we went to at Seton when Terri (or was it Tim) came along? It will help, very soon, to have her with her “own baby” to care for as you care for the new baby!

  • No, I don’t remember that class.

    That’s one of the things I discussed with our pediatrician… the arrival of the new baby and how Bella might react. It’s hard to know how much she understands when we talk about it or read books about babies.

    Like I said before, her current favorite book is about the rabbit who’s upset because he has no siblings and can’t wait until spring as his mother has told him to do. But is that just a coincidence? Or does she kind of understand and is it helping her to process?

    We’ve also been reading Angel in the Waters, told from the point of view of the baby from the beginning, through all the time in the womb, then birth and into babyhood.

    I know little girls go through a dolly stage. I frankly didn’t expect it to happen with Bella until after the baby arrived. Maybe she is somehow playing out what it will be like to be a mommy. Or maybe it’s just part of her playing at mimicking me the way she does with the phone, her purse, wiping things with tissues, etc. It certainly is endearing to watch her try to do for her dolly all the things I do for her. And it does make me eager to see how she’ll respond to her little sister.

  • In my (fairly limited) experience little girls who love their dollies from an early age grow up to be very into babies smile. My 12yo played a lot with dolls and adores babies and tiny tots – always had someone’s baby or toddler on her hip at homeschool groups, helped out with baby ballet, can’t wait to be old enough to babysit, and was in seventh heaven to get a baby sister. My 9yo was much less into dolls – I think she mainly played with them because big sis did – and is correspondingly less interested in babies. Also adores baby sister, but is much less tuned in to her needs.

    Little Cherub will be another dolly loving little girl, I’m sure – she also spends quite some time looking after her Baby, though not doing as much as Bella yet. Mainly cuddling, feeding and pushing her round in a toy stroller. Funny thing is that she has lost the toy bottle that came with Baby and refuses point blank to use any other toy bottle – it isn’t Baby’s and therefore is no use! We’ll gloss over the fact that poor Baby is starving …

    My guess is that Bella is just mimicking you at the moment, rather than processing the idea of a real baby sister (too abstract until she can actually see the baby), but that when Sophia arrives she will be ecstatic and the whole baby / dolly thing will kick up a gear. One word of warning. Do not buy a doll’s car seat, unless you want to spend a very, very long time getting everyone safely strapped in before you go anywhere. Been there, done that!