Thursday, 16 July 2015

family sanctity in 12 (incredibly difficult) months

If only it could be merely that hard. 

Nevertheless, I'm a creature who does thrive on schedules, routines and a well-ordered planner. I like to organize and designate. I love to craft a vision. 

After a recent blip in family life, I renewed my vision of what kind of adults I'm trying to help my sons and daughters to become. At that point I determined that a much more deliberate and intentional program of character formation was past due. So, I began listing only the MOST IMPORTANT virtues I wished to see my children (and truly, myself) possess.  My goal was to eventually pinpoint three essential virtues and target them relentlessly over the coming months. 

As the inspiration began to flow, I altered the plan to absolutely no more than five.  But...that was hard too. 

In the end, there *may* have been more than twenty. 

(page one of two.....)

Way too many....even after weeding out some of the rabble. 

So I decided to cheat. By grouping together virtues that seem logically connected (at least in my life) I created some "sister virtues" and some "virtue triplets" and some "virtue families".  I thought about the liturgical year and the school year and the seasons, and then I assigned each month a little "virtue egg" full of the specific virtues I'd like to focus on as a family. I started (and will continue) brainstorming for Scripture, quotes & mottos, parables, picture books, real life examples, "some food for thought" - anything that would help give children a clearer understanding of the goal. These, I will use to perpetuate ongoing conversation about the virtues as each month unfolds. We're praying for the Virtue(s) of the Month daily, conversing a little about them during the day, and striving individually and collectively to deepen our possession of the month's target virtue. 

The final schedule looks like this:

January: FAITH, Reverence & Piety
February: CHARITY (Love)
March: HOPE (which ideally leads to interior PEACE)
April: JOY & Cheerfulness
          (specifically as the fruits of Contentment, Simplicity & Detachment)
June: TRUTH (Honesty and Sincerity)
September: PURITY
October: FORTITUDE (Courage & Strength); HARD WORK

We've kicked off and I'm pleased so far with the implementation of it all. Obviously, no one has achieved sainthood yet, but the standard has been raised and the picture of goodness is being painted with increasingly vivid color. 

After working out the overall framework, I'm still sketching in the details, but the Lord gave me both His blessing on the project AND a real little gift when he placed the following book in my hands on Saturday. It is a teeny, tiny, short little volume about character formation in kids. (There's a companion volume for parents of teenagers, but I have yet to read or need that one.)

Lastly, I present some photographs that my 5 year old has been taking.  (Her subjects are not always cooperative, nor are they always aware she is photographing them....she has no special instruction, equipment, props, etc...  These pictures are just the work of a little girl who loves to roam around the house "borrowing" the family point-and-shoot.) Without further ado:

At first I loved that this joyful moment had been captured,
but now I realize that my face may actually be contorted in pain.

Not bad for a really little kid. Admittedly, I selected these out of a larger collection of many lesser-quality images, but overall, I think she is doing really well with photography for a five year old. Also, I'm pretty sure even professional photographers only show us the best work from a much larger body of pictures :)

Yesterday I finally "taught" her how to edit her own images on the computer. When I say "taught" I mean I spent maybe FIVE minutes (grand total) demonstrating how to apply filters, crop, rotate, etc.... before I was called away from her side by the Terrible Trio of little boys. By the time I had wiped all the bottoms and filled all the bellies that were clamoring for my attention, Bernadette had been working for almost an hour on her photos. I thought her work was really stunning for a nearly-illiterate five year old, after five minutes' worth of instruction, working totally solo and making all her own artistic choices. 

It serves for me as a timely reminder of what even the youngest children are capable of, given just a little instruction and the freedom to make some informed choices. 

Imagine the beauty of which her soul is capable. 

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