Happy Rogation Sunday and Mother’s Day! While each of those occasions deserve their own posts, instead I’m squeezing in a review about a book for Ascension and Pentecost (because this is the first opportunity I’ve been able to post it and so that you can have enough time to buy it for yourself, if you are so inclined).
I’ve written here on the Homely Hours about how much I have appreciated Laura Alary’s “Child Guides” to both Lent and Advent. So, I was delighted to receive a copy of her new book Breathe: A Child’s Guide to Ascension, Pentecost, and the Growing Time from Paraclete Press.
Just like her other books, Breathe is an example of poetic theologizing for children — weaving together the Scriptures and church year traditions as she explores the liturgical themes. As you would expect from the title, Alary chooses the theme of breathing in order to illuminate a biblical theology of the Holy Spirit as wind and breath. The book is divided into four sections: 1) “Breathless” (Christ leaving in the Ascension), 2) Breathe in (the two accounts of Pentecost 3) Breathe Out (Ordinary Time and the Spirit-filled work of the Church), and 4) Time to Grow (the summarizing of all the themes).
Cathrin Peterslund’s illustrations are evocative and capture my children’s attention. I appreciate the way that these illustrations weave together images from daily life, liturgical symbols, and the Scriptures, bringing together the “spiritual” and the mundane in an uncomplicated unity.
While I love both of her previous books, in a way, I think this one is the most valuable yet because of the way it fills an absence. There are many resources out there for both Advent and Lent, but for me at least, this is the only children’s book I own that focuses on Ascension and Pentecost — feast days that certainly could do for more attention.
Additionally, I think you know you’ve found a good children’s book when you find yourself reflecting on it. As I breathe lately during times of silence, I’ve been reflecting on the nearness of the Holy Spirit and how, in the church, “The same Spirit breathes in all of us. . . Whenever we choose kindness, make peace, live gently, show patience, feel joy, give love, Jesus is there. Always.”
If you’re looking for more resources for Ascension and Pentecost, check out these links.