Christianity

Holding Fast: Fairy Tales and Wrestling My Baby to Sleep

What Fairy Tales taught me about loving my son and helping him sleep.

There’s a very old Scottish fairy tale called “Tam Lin” about a man who gets captured by faeries, much to the dismay of his beloved, Janet. Janet learns that the faeries intend to make a sacrifice of him and that the only way to save him is to stand at the crossroad at midnight on Halloween and take hold of him as the faerie court passes by on their way to make the sacrifice. “You must spring upon me suddenly,” Tam Lin tells her, “Then seize me quick, and whatever change befall me, for they will exercise all their magic on me, cling hold to me till they turn me into red-hot iron. Then cast me into this pool and I will be turned back into a man. Cast then your green mantle over me, and I shall be yours, and be of the world again.” Janet does as he tells her. The faeries turn Tam Lin to ice, then fire, then an adder, a dove, a swan, and finally, a hot iron sword. Janet steadfastly holds Tam Lin through all his changes, waits for the moment of iron, and then plunges him into the water and covers him with her mantle. And so, the story tells us, “Tam Lin was Janet’s forever.”

I’ve been keenly reminded of this story lately at nighttime when putting my son down to sleep. He arrived late to the rolling-over party just a few weeks ago at ten months old, but in the span of two weeks this has led to crawling, standing, and now cruising, so life has become suddenly much more exciting for our little boy. Much more exciting than bedtime and sleep.

(Continue reading…)

Maundy Thursday: When the Spirit and the Flesh Are Both Weak

Maundy Thursday: The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Photo by Rafferty Fazakerly.
Photo by Rafferty Fazakerly

Last night was Maundy Thursday, where Christians remember the night Jesus gave a new commandment to love one another, the night he broke bread and passed a common cup to his disciples, the night he went to a garden to pray and asked his disciples to stay awake with him and watch—even for one hour—and they did not. The night he was betrayed and arrested and handed over to death.

Family Day at the Huntington Library and Gardens

I spent most of the day yesterday at the Huntington Library and Gardens with my mother and sister and a friend. We wandered through the gardens all afternoon, ate lunch at the cafe, showed ThriverBabe around the children’s garden, and generally just enjoyed the sunshine and cool breezes and green spaces.

We hit LA rush hour traffic on the way back, and I watched the minutes tick by, stealing away the one- to two-hour buffer I’d planned to have between getting back home and packing up to go to church at 7. I really didn’t want to go to church. I wasn’t in the mood for Maundy Thursday.

I felt a sudden connection to the disciples in the garden.

(Continue reading…)

Why I Clean My House During Lent

Why I Clean My House During Lent

I’m going to come right out and say it: I’m going to talk about God and Christianity from time to time here. It’s a huge part of my life, and by that I mean in part that I live my life according to the church calendar, fasting and feasting in due season. So a lot of my experiences and thoughts are directly shaped by these seasons and will likely come out in what I write.

It’s Lent right now in the church year—the great fast that precedes the great feast. In some traditions people give up meat (and dairy and oil and sweets and alcohol and sex), but joining in that practice presupposes a dietary and cooking flexibility that I am not able to accommodate. So Lent in my house for the last few years has meant a sacrifice of time and effort to a worthy cause: cleaning time. For the 40 days of Lent, I concertedly spend extra time cleaning my house as a spiritual discipline. That’s not to say that I don’t clean my house in other seasons—I just do it more attentively in Lent.

Why? I don’t know. Because disciplines are good, and they help form good habits, maybe. I have never in my life been a clean and organized person, so there’s always something that needs more attention. I live in the perpetual hope that one day I might become a clean and organized person. I recognize that order is objectively better than chaos, and especially now that I’m a mom, I don’t want my son to grow up in a house full of chaos. But I think there’s something about cleaning house that’s metaphorically resonant with the practice of the Lenten fast.

(Continue Reading…)