Sunday, December 15, 2013
Musings on morning time
As our Advent break draws nearer to the end, I've been reading, one by one, the Ordo Amoris posts on Morning Time. I am doing this because our own morning time, which evolved naturally over the last two years as I noticed that we did a lot of great work in the mornings, has a lot in common with hers. Being older and more experienced, I want to learn what I can from her to make it run more smoothly.
Overall, her posts have been very encouraging, and helped to solidify what we were already doing naturally, and to give me a vision for what it was and could be in the future (as my kids are still very young.)
Around here we call our family meetings "Consilium" which means "council" in Latin. It also means advice, wisdom, judgement, plan, and purpose. Seemed like it fit.
On my schedule, Consilium I happens after breakfast and liturgy of the hours but before individual work, chores, or personal hygiene.
Consilium II happens around the lunch table, and Consilium III happens around Fika, our tea / snack time. I'm a big planner, so each section is already pre-planned. We *try* to do each consilium each day, but since we don't always get to it, I also love that consilium is in addition to their normal, everyday work. It's an addded bonus, but it IS where we do the bulk of our growing/learning/family educational culture stuff.
In our house, Consilium I consists of our "calendar meeting" and the Connecting With History work. We open with calendar time, which isn't what other people do with a special time of that same name. Instead, we open our calendar, discuss upcoming events, and record firsts (first snow, first leaves falling, first steps, etc.) in our book of firsts. We also do a quick habits lesson, and a run down of any character type stuff that's been going on and needs to be addressed. Lastly, we go through one section of the Catechism and discuss. It's a family meeting.
Then we either read from a history book or a book of saints biographies as per our CWH day. We discuss what we have read and do map drills and pages in our book of centuries. We might act out a scene from history. CWH basically lays out the program, and we just follow along, doing something different each week. We also might do memory work from our history readings or the Bible. And we discuss the catechism, and it's relation to what we are reading.
Consilium II consists of Arts & Literature. We read a poem and practice reciting a poem we are learning, and then we read some literature, usually something of a "classics" kind of nature like Peter Pan, or Treasure Island. On Tuesdays, it consists of a Shakespeare reading, Thursdays, a Plutarch reading, and Fridays, a Picture Study and Composer study. Maybe a poet study if we have something scheduled for that day. The rest of the week we just continue in a good lit book, often mythology or an epic poem.
Consilium III consists of Science & Geography. This is when we do nature study or outdoor geography, read geographical poetry and / or do experiments. If it's raining or we are indoors, I do a read aloud from The Story of Science or from a geography book I select that has a bushcraft/survivalism or travel type theme.
Consilium IV is not called that, nor is it official, but that's what it is. Sometime between dinner and bed we read the Bible and discuss it. We also fit in a folk song.
In other words, I break up my "morning time" into small chunks throughout the day, and since we pray the liturgy of the hours as a family (which consists of prayers, psalms, a scripture reading, and intercession) several times a day, we don't really consider it a liturgy. The two are intimately connected though.... praying the liturgy of the hours before Consilium prepares us to head into consilium in a different mindset.
In reading these blogs, I was a bit put off by her insistence that morning times are liturgy and I admit I giggled a little a I read about her frustration with forgetting to say: "the Lord be with you...." at the end.
As a Catholic family, we differentiate between individual actions and communal actions undertaken by the entire church but when we can we attempt to unite to the body of Christ, not divide from it. We already have liturgy, and we participate in the liturgies of the Church daily, so we don't need to innovate new --less perfect, less communal-- liturgies. But there was something to her insistence that I completely acknowledge and understand. She is trying to emphasize that what happens in morning time is sacred. Something holy is happening as we struggle and endeavor to recite, discuss, and read and debate and grasp in peace. And that, right there, is something I completely understand.
I also understand her insistence on doing it in the morning. I don't know what it is about the morning. All I can say is that we have their attention. Something magical happens in the morning in their minds and in ours. That's why I chose to do history in the mornings. It's the one thing that catechizes them super profoundly, so I wanted to makes sure they got a double dose of catechism in the day via history study in the AM, when they are paying attention.
For me, by the time afternoons come around it's usually the time when they get rowdy, so having outdoor events planned for that moment is really great. It also allows me to do whatever work I want to accomplish in the house while they flit around outside noticing things and looking them up. I have thought about switching my focus to make Consilium I longer and more all-inclusive. My children at this time are all so young that I'm not sure they would be able to handle more than one read aloud at a time. All things are possible, but at this time I don't really see how I would do it.
These are some of our most treasured times together, and though it would be easier to just school them individually and move on, it's of infinite worth to me that these times build up the communal/family culture. My children enjoy the individual time they get with me, but they do the bulk of their growing through our family interactions and work towards a common goal. We have a large family mindset, recognizing the value of interaction between us, and so for us.... that's what it's all about!