“Technology is man-made, and has no soul,” my mother used to say.
“You’re a pyromaniac!” Daddy would say to her. “Candles, bonfires, campfires, fires on the hearth at home. Why can’t we have central heating like everybody else?”
“I need fire and earth and wind and waves as much as I need food,” Mother would reply. “I’d go mad living in this wired-up, bricked-up, fenced-in concrete street if I didn’t dose myself with fire and weather and earth and sea. My soul would get pale and thin. I don’t want a pale, thin soul.”
(Penelope Wilcock, The Hawk and the Dove)
I happen to love electricity and central heating. But the idea of a “pale, thin soul” strikes a chord deep inside of me. Growing up thin-souled has always been a possibility, as the quote above illustrates, but it seems to me that it’s especially easy to do these days, when you can “live” for months on a diet of hyperscheduled days, social media feeds, Buzzfeed lists, txt convos (lol!), emoticons, and Netflix-enabled binge sitcom watching. Then you look around one day and you can’t remember the last time you lingered over a conversation, flipped pages of a fat book with your fingers, listened to the sound of your children breathing, or felt the wind on your face.
I want my home can be a place where souls come to get fat. Souls get fat the same way bodies do: You let them slow down and stop running, and you feed them rich things. Part of this is staying in close connection with non-screened, real things: “fire and weather and earth and sea,” and paper pages and fragrant bread and bodies snuggled together. It also means feeding our souls and brains with ideas and emotions that are more complex and deep than you can represent with an emoji keyboard or in perfunctory small talk.
I read this quote a couple weeks ago, and have thought of it every day since:
Life has light moments when we all break into laughter, but lightness (or levity) is using humor and entertainment to keep weighty realities out of our minds. We live in a culture that tries to turn life into “Comedy Central.” The tragedy of this is that it turns us away from the overflowing joy God gives through a sober consideration of gospel truth. Are you leading your family to fill their minds with distractions, or with the hope of Christ?
A home liturgy is a way to remember to feed the soul what it needs most: gospel truth, contemplation of eternity, real interaction with God and others. A home liturgy feeds body, mind, and soul: engaging eyes, ears, taste buds, skin, imagination, affections with eternal truths.
(Speaking of feeding your soul: Have you read The Hawk and the Dove? If you haven’t, please do. If I had to choose a book to live in, this would be it, hands down.)
Keep Reading: Inside a Liturgical Home