Very soon, we’ll be transitioning into the “quiet seasons” of honoring the dead in November and then starting the liturgical calendar anew with Advent. I put quiet in quotes because my home is usually not quiet. In fact, I think the single most difficult thing about having a large family for me is not what it is for most others. Forget the mess, the financial strains, the small home, the public disapproval or the vehicle logistics. The hardest thing about having a large family is the simply overwhelming volume of life. I’m serious. Just how blessedly loud my days are is the biggest challenge! (This is followed closely by how long it takes illnesses to run the course through everyone in the family; staggered start and end times of coughs/flus can leave us out of commission for months!)
And so, I always look forward to the second half of autumn; the brilliant scarlet leaves are starting to die down and fall into the dead, crusted brown on the earth now. Everything is at the end of its life. I love so much how the patterns of our liturgical calendar follow the rhythms of earth.
I wanted to mention just a couple things going into November. This is the time to pull out the LATE autumn books. When I made my “favorite book post”, I didn’t really distinguish between the subtleties of each season. A March springtime is much different from a June springtime, etc. and that reality is usually reflected in picture books.
Before we hit the Thanksgiving traditions I like to celebrate the dead and to honor the dead and to hopefully achieve some of the QUIET of the dead! Look for books about El Día de Los Muertos like this or this… and try to find Saint-Saëns’s Danse Macabre at the library since I don’t know WHY it went out of print so quickly (thought I am very happy that Anna Harwell Celenza is still continuing to add to her series on the music masters; I hope to collect all of them!) Know that it’s good and healthy and theologically appropriate to make light of death! Our faith is a very holistic one in both body and spirit… mildly macabre but that’s how I like it! Monks kept skulls by their desks to remind them of their mortality. We honor the bones and relics of saints. and we have entire, incredibly creepy, wonderful shrines to visit all over the world! Being Catholic is so great because we put death in its proper place!
Lastly, if you have any desire at all to try and transition into doing the Jesse Tree entirely or partially with the help of picture books, now is the time to start ordering those cheap out of print volumes or to begin placing holds at your library. My lists should help you figure out which books to use for which days. I have been carefully monitoring the “Bible story” picture book publishing releases over this past year, and other than the MET’s excellent Noah’s Ark, nothing worthy has come up.
In the meantime, enjoy the rest of this ‘quiet’ season and light a candle for the dead next month…