It’s a good thing we have a gap between each of our podcasts because this one is LOADED with homework you will actually be excited to do!
On this episode we welcomed Mary Cunningham to the studio to speak about how to inspire wonder in our daily lives through good literature and stories.
Mary is a mom of three and a former teacher with a degree in literature. She has always had a heart for reading and the conversation good books can inspire. She begins our podcast by speaking about the book clubs of which she is a part, including one from The Well Read Mom. Check out their many amazing resources here! If interested, contact them to join a study!
Book clubs may not be an option for you, so how else can you begin instilling reading into your life and why should you? Mary used a quote from Saint John XXIII, who stressed that it is important to devote 10 minutes a day to reading because good literature is food for your soul. Anyone can find 10 minutes somewhere in a day, instead of getting on social media pick up a book or hit that iBooks app instead. Mary reminds listeners that good reading is really critical to our mental faculties because it is true recreation.
When you are truly recreating you are re-created, energized, and ready to go. Reading is truly recreational because it is a creative act. We bring ourselves to what we read. Our brains have to do a lot of work and imagine instead of passive recreation which has become the norm today.
Next, Mary shared the beautiful short story The Student by Anton Chekhov linked here. We encourage you to read this story and reflect on the effect of telling and hearing a good story on our own souls and the souls of others and to feel your connection to the past and present!
Mary also shared a golden resource called the Read Aloud Revival. a podcast that is based on the idea that reading aloud to the children in your life is one of the most powerful ways to connect with them. We spoke about one episode that features an interview with Katherine Paterson, the author of the Bridge to Terabithia and other classics. “Good literature allows you to eavesdrop on the soul of another person.” This dynamic of literature allows such rich understanding, empathy, and beautiful conversations.
Next, we discussed Sursum Corda: Lift Up Your Hearts written by our wonderful shepherd, Bishop James Conley (Lincoln, NE). This bullseye of a resource will inspire and convict you toward making time for good literature in your life. He speaks of it as a remedy to recreate a sick culture. He speaks of how our modern methods of media have produced a culture of flat souled experience. Haven’t we all felt that way before??? He also reminds us that literature should lead to wonder!
Mary reminded us that energizing our imaginations increases our ability to hope. It retrains our brains and stocks it with holy, creative, and heroic images to draw upon. Your imagination is limited to the things you access and expose yourself to and as Sara said, "Mediocre media makes us hope for mediocre things."
We had a very crucial conversation about how Google has greatly injured our ability to wonder, come up with imaginative ideas, analyze, theorize, etc. in our conversations with each other. We no longer sit around and wonder. We just Google it. Literature acts as a rehabilitation for this injury.
CHALLENGE: We issued a challenge in this episode. Go one week (or try more!) without allowing yourself to Google anything. Instead allow wonder to move back in to your conversations and to reawaken your imaginations. Give priority to other wise women instead of seeking practical advice from the internet right away. Share and challenge other women to try this with you! Comment on our Followers' Field Forum how this challenge changed your week! Wrestle with questions. Call another woman for advice instead of Googling an important question. Consider what Mary said, "I don’t want to know what YouTube has to say, I want to know what my friend thinks."
Scaredy Cat Readers? We know you are out there. Noel used to be one. So did Sara. Mary has great advice for you. Know yourself. Know what you enjoy. Read around things. Read about the author. Set the scene. Sometimes, for certain books, read the synopsis of the story first so you aren’t bogged down by the plot and can go deeper. Don’t be afraid to put a book down!
Finally, what we’ve all been waiting for (drum roll please!)...Mary’s faves:
Book: O Pioneers! by Willa Cather, a true Nebraskan girl at heart! Share your favorites and find out what other wildflowers love to read on our Followers’ Field Forum for this episode (scroll down to the second posting)!
Saint: Edith Stein, a woman author who Mary wrote an extensive essay on in college during a class that was full of sometimes dark femininity. (Dear Mary, we want that paper! Love, all the Wildflowers)
WoW moment: Did you know that John Paul II wrote poems and plays?! Look him up as an author to find beautiful poetry (there were too many links so we will give you permission to Google this one).
With your hosts-