For those of us a little late
Happy New Year & pack of just beautiful links to enjoy
Hey. I’m sneaking into your inbox, just a mere 2 weeks late, and I’m
feeling very guilty about it refusing to feel bad about it because I’ve been watching every other newsletter I follow deliver their letters on time, and enjoying their gorgeous holiday thoughts during some peaceful moments in the midst of my crazy holiday, yet have not produced anything myself, because I know many of you have been having crazy covid holiday chaos as well.
Turns out that writing an essay (which has a point and is not just a ramble) is impossible for me during a season of no child care and lots of family adventures, especially when I’m not being paid for it.
Is this a creative mother problem? Is this a starving artist problem? Is this just a human problem? Is this a late-stage capitalism problem? You tell me.
So, there’s no essay, but I’ll happily point you to some other people’s fascinating writing and beautiful images, and share some of what I have been reading below. I hope you can gather a warm beverage and peruse while you block out the sound of your children slowly removing all the tissues from the tissue box or hitting each other with lego pieces.
PS: There’s a lot of links. You’ll only hit my writing & book recs right at the bottom. Enjoy!
Tiny House Life:
We maybe had covid? Tests were inconclusive, but the kids were sick. Grateful to have pulled through okay, and I’ll be so sad the day that I can’t just put highlighters and tape in a stocking and have two thrilled kids.
We were very lucky to get to go with some visiting family on a fancy safari! I will not bore you with all my animal photos, but will say I’m grateful we live in such a beautiful place, and that living in a tiny house means making trips like this are a bit more possible!
Some just beautiful links:
This essay on reading and how social media is destroying our ability to read (read for context, read for nuance, read believing that some interpretations are more correct than others) made my English literature heart happy/depressed. I also loved the commentary on how earnest writers fall back on humour because we don’t want to be seen as earnest but we FEEL ALL THE THINGS.
This icon of the poet MARY OLIVER! Also, the poem the artist chose to go along with it. Click the image to read, even if you don’t have instagram.
I’m always down for a good article on feasting, and community, and Jesus and food. This was pretty good.
This poem, A Brief for the Defense by Jack Gilbert (pairs very well with the book This Beautiful Truth listed below).
“...We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.”
I don’t know how this fits into the beautiful or justice category (okay, maybe justice?) but there is this deeep fascination I have with momfluencers (mother social media influencers) and this substack called Mothers Under the Influence is just… makes me go, whaaaaat. So truuueeee. every time I get it. This one on charcuterie boards on instagram almost prompted an essay. It probably pairs very well with the above article on feasting. How do followers of Jesus who believe in generosity, in his provision and abundance, respond to the emphasis on excess on social media?
Is it too much to share two images by the same artist? This is slowly becoming just a Dorothy Day fan newsletter (Little Women, you still hold my heart), but loved this image of her welcoming the holy family.
This piece of art, and this whole instagram account which always prompts me towards beauty. I did art history in high school, and it is so fun getting to engage that part of my brain.
This poem on motherhood, breastfeeding, and the incarnation.
PBS passport - yes, I’ll donate $5 per year and watch All Creatures Great and Small and a Ken Burns documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright (which also almost turned into the essay for this newsletter, and yet, didn’t. Maybe next time. My husband and I had a great conversation on whether women geniuses can be horrible people and excused for it because “well, they’re still a genius” like men can. Next level - if women can, can mothers?)
Frankie Drake Mysteries gets it’s own bullet point because I watched the whole series on PBS and there’s a lot of them. I just like 1920’s clothes, and a mystery where there’s not blood and the good gals win.
Talk about just beautiful spaces! Public libraries make me cry when I think about how amazing they are, and this article was fascinating.
While I didn’t do any essays, I managed a few instagram posts - we celebrated a lot of good work that often goes unrecognized here - read the comments!
It seems people resonated with this post about looking for the light, even when you can’t feel it.
In honor of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s passing, I shared this essay I wrote back in 2015 about (almost) breakfast with Tutu, passing the peace, feeling at home, transitions, Christian community… you know, it seems I’m still writing about these things. ‘Sitting in the cavernous cathedral at 7:15am with the worn-our rag-tag group of siblings that I had dragged out of bed on our last real day of our road trip—our last day in Capetown, the beginning of the end—the air in the building felt sad. It is the new year. But it doesn’t feel new, it feels old.’
Books I’m reading /read:
This Beautiful Truth: How God’s Goodness Breaks Into Our Darkness by Sarah Clarkson.
So good. Beauty as a response to suffering and evil. It may just be a book club pick for our pop-up book club? Yes?
Range: Why generalists triumph in a specialized world by David Epstien. I’m not a flake or a quitter?? I just like a lot of things?? And it could be an asset?! Yes, please.
Yours, Cheerfully by A J Pearce. My husband and I do that Christmas Eve book Norwegian shmorgasbord thingy where we give each other a book on Christmas Eve then stay up late reading them. It’s always terrifying picking a book (usually we pick books, then back-up-books for each other as well!) The book has to be on a topic they like, and interesting enough they’d want to read it in one go. This WW2 story my husband picked for me was fun! Also, the huge spirit of “everyone, let’s muck in together for the boys on the front, jolly good,” spirit of WW2 England (in fiction, at least) made me sad at how little we have joined forces to support those on the covid front-lines. Also an almost newsletter. PS. I am really waiting for this WW2 fiction to arrive.
Book research news:
I’ve done no real work on my book, except to keep pitching my proposal to keep finding out I need 10 000 followers on social media, not 300. So if you like my writing and know anyone who is interested in the intersection of beauty & justice, especially as it relates to making space in motherhood for creativity, send them my way! ;)
Thanks so much, friends, for reading and thinking with me! I do always love hearing from you. Send me (or post in the comment section!) your favorite links you’ve been reading this month.
Here’s to next month (and childcare!)