Motherhood as Spiritual Practice is the second in Seedbed‘s ‘Spirituality for the Streets’ series. This short collection of reflections took me less than an hour to read and I take it that’s intentional – it’s aimed at the busy mum. The premise of the book is that on top of all the normal guilt that comes along with being a mum, Christian mums have the added pressure of trying to have a quiet time each day. Rather than finding this refreshing, for many it becomes yet another reminder of their inadequacy.
This book moves away from the idea of a quiet time, but it is neither Bible light nor prayer light. Rather, it’s application heavy. Its strength is in showing how prayer and Christian discipleship can permeate all of life. Each chapter addresses an everyday practice of mothering. There are chapters on giving, noticing, grieving, remembering, listening, etc. The writers do two things with these practices.
First, they draw on an ancient Christian prayer ritual, the ‘breath prayer’. Using the inhale-exhale cycle of body, these one-sentence prayers ‘help bring renewal, focus and encouragement to us and through us.’ These prayers don’t require a ‘quiet time’ – they require a 5 second pause, and there are suggested prayers that relate to each practice.
The second thing the writers do is to re-frame everyday experiences of motherhood to see them as spiritual discipline, asking how God wants to shape or teach the mother through her mothering. I reckon there’s another dimension to motherhood as spirituality that remained unexplored, that is, considering mothering as an imitation of God and a participation with him in his creative work, but there’s much in this book that will help busy mums to see God at work even in the mundane.
I think I could recommend this book to all different kinds of mothers as it considers a number of stages of mothering. There’s a chapter about when your motherhood widens as your children get married, a chapter about parenting teenagers, as well as a chapter about grief and children with special needs.
I’ve been wondering how to use this book. At the end I felt like I needed to sit down and have time out to reflect on it, which brought me back to thinking I needed a quiet time! However the point is that these are meant to be things you can think about on the go. Reading it chapter by chapter (each one takes less than 5 mins) would be more effective I think. You could even use it devotionally if that’s your thing. But one way the writers move away from the need for mums to have a quiet time in order to do the things suggested here is that each chapter has a section entitled ‘Include Your Children’. The practices here don’t have to be something mums do on their own, but something to live and to share.
Highly recommended. This is well worth your $4 to buy!
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.