Who We Are & The Stories We’re In by Julia Harrell

Janel LewandowskiYear of the Pilgrim

I’ve been a member of a Well-Read Mom group outside Washington, DC for three years. During that time, I’ve discovered some new gems and reread some old favorites. I was thrilled when The Power and The Glory, one of my all-time favorite novels, was on the Well-Read Mom list last year, the ‘Year of the Contemplative.’ It’s fitting that The Power and The Glory was a ‘Year of the Contemplative’ selection since I’m still thinking about it now. Greene’s whiskey priest haunts me, and I think it’s because of the way Christ haunts him. The whiskey priest is weak and compromised. He has fathered and then abandoned an illegitimate child. He drinks too much. He fails even to pray the daily office. But for all that, he is not Padre Jose, living with a common-law wife and too terrified of the government even to offer a prayer for a grieving mother. The whiskey priest, at least, is on the run, offering Mass and hearing confessions from villagers in remote outposts of the Mexican mountains. What makes the whiskey priest different from Padre Jose? It isn’t great personal moral fiber. It isn’t natural courage or piety. The whiskey priest possesses none … Read More

Awakening the Moral Imagination, Awakening the Culture (Part 1)

Janel LewandowskiYear of the Contemplative

by Marcie Stokman There is a battle going on in our culture and at the heart of this battle is the education of the imagination. We are together in Well-Read Mom to awaken our moral imagination to a greater truth of reality. This awakening, we believe, can benefit our lives and the lives of our families as well as impact the broader culture. What is the imagination and how can a well-formed imagination help us? Human beings have the unique capacity to imagine. The imagination is what allows us to perceive more than what is immediately before our eyes. We ponder the universe. We can live with a sense of wonder. We ask questions like, “Why am I here?” and “What is the meaning of life?” Animals can’t do this. Dogs don’t sit around and ponder how they can make a difference in the world or how family meals can be more meaningful. We have a remarkable capacity to use our imagination, but here’s the catch: this capacity needs to be developed. When we are inundated with a constant stream of images, this imagination can be severely diminished or underdeveloped. Over 60 years ago, C.S. Lewis made this observation about … Read More

A New Way to Wait

Janel LewandowskiYear of the Contemplative

For our family, the past three months have been a time that we’ve had less opportunity to spend time with my husband, Jim, because he has been on his busiest work rotation. On the very last day of his rotation, we were waiting for Jim to return from work before starting dinner. As we waited that day, he kept on getting delayed. All of us were tired from the day and hungry for dinner (also a bit crabby).   A recent conversation with my friend Marta kept coming to mind. After two months of not having dinner with her husband, she said, “I realized that the very experience of not being able to spend so much time together makes this waiting for another real. Instead of distracting my son from the fact that my husband is not around, this can be the starting point to show and experience what waiting is.” Marta’s words kept coming to mind, however, and challenged me to live that evening differently and to encourage my kids to do so too. So as our expected dinner hour came and went and my daughter Lia asked why we were not eating, I told her that yes, it … Read More

“My Shawl” by Well-Read Mom Charlotte Ostermann

Janel LewandowskiYear of the Contemplative

The following poem is reprinted from the Well-Read Mom ‘Year of the Mother’ Journal.  My Shawl by Charlotte Ostermann I sit and knit a shawl to warm my soul When winds begin to howl and darkness falls, To weave, to tie, to join and be made whole — My life’s work bundled here within these walls. As back and forth my fingers ply their trade And prayers are woven into cloth with dreams My soul is not confined, nor thoughts constrained But freed to fly by hands content with seams. This seeming smallness of my daily world, The tiny stitches of a humble life, Will add up to my glory by God’s grace When at time’s end my knitting is unfurled And all my works as woman, mother, wife Have made a home for me before His face. Charlotte Ostermann is a speaker and author of Souls at Rest. She lives on a ‘farm wannabe’ near Lawrence, Kansas.