It has been a long break between Hidden Words here, and I can only say that this was due to that equally long stream of Ayyam'i'Ha-Fast-Naw Ruz-Spring Break that seems to have diverted our focus in other directions.
I have also been thinking a lot about why we do this, and why discussing the Hidden Words is so important to me as a mother. First and foremost, I want to point out that for the purpose of this (albeit one-sided) conversation, the fact that we use the Hidden Words specifically is not of paramount importance. What matters to me is that there is a dedicated time and space in which we mindfully address the spiritual nature of ourselves at an individual level, the world around us, and how we should interact with it. The Hidden Words are beautifully created to facilitate precisely this, and that is why I continually fall back on them. But what I absolutely cannot do without is the integration of spiritual reality into our daily lives. These writings provide a window through which to view ourselves, those around us, and how the world works. We end up exploring everything from art to science to nature to history to gardening all in one smooth stream of inquiry, and this is how it should be. This life on this earth is all about exploring and learning and discovering, on mulitple levels and in multiple ways, and they are all aspects of a single reality. It is with this sense of purpose that I approach these little exercises and activities, but in doing so, I also try to address my greatest fear. If I fail to teach my children this fundamental unity of life, and its importance to their own spiritual reality, I will truly feel as if I have failed as a mother. So I may fall off for a while, but I hope I always manage to climb back on. It is not enough for me to tell them that they should be good or kind or brave or truthful in an abstract or idealised sense-- I need to know that they understand why, in the deepest aspect of themselves, they need to be true to their own beautiful, noble, spiritual selves.
In any case, without further ado:
Hidden Word Number Eighteen
O SON OF SPIRIT!
Ask not of Me that which We desire not for thee, then be content with what We have ordained for thy sake, for this is that which profiteth thee, if therewith thou dost content thyself.
First of all, I just love this one. It is such a source of comfort to me. So I asked myself why, and that lead to this week's questions and discussions. First and foremost, this Hidden Word focuses on humility, contentment, gratitude and understanding the Will of God. From previous weeks, we recalled just how much God loves us, and that He obviously wouldn't want to make us suffer for no good reason. So why do we get so sad and angry? Why is life so hard sometimes? We further discussed that there are two types of tests and difficulties in this life: the ones God gives us so that we can grow and change, and the ones we make for ourselves out of our own vanity/greed/short-sightedness, etc. It is our responsibility (and ability) to minimise the tests of our own making (ahem) and begin to understand the purpose of the tests God gives us as a chance for us to change and grow spiritually. These are enormous, difficult themes, and I obviously cannot do them justice here, and we continue to discuss them on an ongoing basis.
Alright, this might seem a bit of a leap, but bear with me. One of the transformations that is easy and fun to witness can be found in eggs. Not fertilised eggs (although that could work, too), but the ones we use in cooking. I had the children think of all the different ways we use eggs: they provide the puff in a puff pancake, they can be fried, boiled, merengued, thickened into custard, scrambled...In other words, they are incredibly diverse in how they behave and what they are used for in cooking and baking. Now, how does this all work? We looked specifically at the process that an egg white goes through when it is beaten (a detailed explanation can be found here), and I was terribly impressed by my girls when they informed me that egg whites were protein molecules with a coiled structure. Little smarty-pants-nerds. Anyway, in the prolonged beating, the structure uncoils and incorporates air and transforms into something else entirely. Which can easily be applied to the effect tests can have on us. I don't imagine it would be a pleasant or easy process to have one's proteins uncoiled, but look at the resuilts!
Of course, we had to make a pavlova for this week. Partly becuase it illustrated the point so well, partly because it is so yummy, and partly because Bella desperately needed to use her new mixer. We also made a lemon curd using the egg yolks, which showed a completely different sort of transformation as the curd thickened (and yes, there is a layer of lemon curd underneath the strawberries and cream).
Both processes were longer than the children anticipated, but they were also exceptionally delicious and well worth the time and effort. So yes, baking can be a spiritual metaphor. And I think this is what I want them to see-- that everything, but everything, is beautiful and applicable in so very many ways.