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When you chop down a tree, does it hurt God?
a meditation from my preschooler
The other day on a hike my 3-year-old son asked me if, when someone chops down a tree, does it hurt God? Does God die?
I was taken aback by the profundity of the question; by how literally my child took the teaching that God inhabits all living things in some mysterious way. It revealed a gorgeous worldview in his little soul—one I would like more of for myself.
We talked about moral and immoral use of resources. Of the radical idea of consent; of how Indigenous teachers like Robin Wall Kimmerer speak of asking the land permission to harvest her goods. I speak of this to my child in a way that feigns authority. I am as new to this journey as he is, really. We’re not so different, he and I.
My husband Eric took a genetics test because as an Oklahoman he’d hoped to have Native blood, but it turned out all Anglo-Saxton. What is the path for White people like us, those who have no tradition to teach us the way? We want so badly to be incarnational, want it in our bones, in our blood. Want to say yes, it hurts God: hurts a little, like a bee sting. Want to say you, child, are connected to that tree, to this land, to the bark of your God.
But our skin is white and our blood is European and we don’t quite know how to do that. Not in a real, embodied way. So I teach as best I can and I make nature altars in our home and I show my children how to press their faces against the trunks of trees.
I have no real tradition to teach me that. But if I have my way, my descendants will.
Where I’ve written lately:
St. Anthony Messenger magazine
My One-Year Experiment with the Rosary (Oct. issue - I really loved writing this)
5 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage (Sept. issue)
An Interfaith Prayer for 9/11 (Sept. issue - it’s an entire piece, not just a prayer)
Rewilding Motherhood Buzz:
Review in U.S. Catholic magazine (Sept. issue)
This post by Hillary McBride meant so much to me, as she is a voice that has gently taught me from afar over the years.
OneVoice podcast (lots more podcasts coming out soon, so stay tuned!)
In the Goodreads review section, someone named Jessica wrote, “This is THE book for mothers/women” and my day was made.
I recently found Rewilding Motherhood in a Barnes & Noble and geeked out enough to take a photo (below). If you’d like to show brick and mortar bookstores your support (and also show them there is demand for this book!) call your local B&N and ask if they have a copy in stock. You can also find it on their website.
(Little things that are bringing me joy.)
The super-soft sweatshirts from my friend Lauren’s company, Brick House in the City. I got this one because I loved that it stands for “under the protection of Mary.” (Speaking of the company, they have a phenomenal devotional on mental health you should check out too.)
Two of our local coffee shops have Ginger-Molasses lattes right now and they are my new fall drink. (I like the occasional Pumpkin Spice, but the sweetness is kind of over the top in my book.)
My 2nd grader’s Saturday morning soccer games. Ok, I always thought soccer was really boring but it turns out it’s fun if your kid’s the one playing! Which makes me think I need to join the rest of the country and hop on the Ted Lasso bandwagon, but we don’t have AppleTV. Have you been watching? Does it live up to the hype?
To Light Their Way: A Collection of Prayers and Liturgies for Parents by my friend Kayla Craig is a gorgeous hardcover heirloom-quality book of prayers for every possible circumstance. It releases in just a few days and you can preorder now!
Eric and I recently watched The Starling on Netflix and both really liked it. It’s an exploration of grief, marriage, human interconnection with nature, and the untapped anger of women. Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd were phenomenal. (Dang do I love a woman who can nail both comedy and drama.) And yowza, that soundtrack.
And, of course, not to be forgotten…. this:
The 3-part series starts this coming Saturday, and I am overjoyed to share that we already have 300 participants! So come join knowing that you can be a quiet lurker in anonymity. Isn’t that the best sort of retreat? (Maybe just for introverts like me?)
On a personal note…
I recently accepted a full-time position as Social Media Editor at National Catholic Reporter (which also includes Global Sisters Report and Earth Beat). I am THRILLED about this opportunity to help bring light to important issues of justice and mercy, and to represent a face of the Catholic Church that amplifies marginalized voices, environmental justice, and global issues. It’s really a dream job for me, and I am so grateful.
Wishing you all the joy and autumn leaves,