Lessons from the Bible

This week, my daughter and I have been reading the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. My daughter really seemed to enjoy the story and retained many more details than she often does. It probably helped that we had a word find to accompany the story. She really gets into word finds.

Yesterday afternoon, I was doing lunch dishes and half-listening while the children were playing in the toy room.

“You’re a nuisance!” my daughter said, followed a short time later by, “Why don’t you climb into that well and tell me what’s down there?”

Giggles.

This is when I went around the corner to better assess the situation.

Luckily, the “well” was just the new sleeping bag we bought for our campout this weekend, and my son was willingly playing his role and crawling into the bottom of it.

Still, I don’t want to know what might have happened if a caravan of camel-riding merchants had gone by at about that time.

The Bible: Kindergarten Revised Version

"Cain kills Abel", a fratricide illu...

Paul Gustave Doré must have forgotten about the bear. (Image via Wikipedia)

Now that my daughter’s reading skills have improved, we’ve begun reading a chapter from The Children’s Illustrated Bible from DK as part of her reading lesson each day. Right now, I’m reading it to her, and then I have her narrate what happened in the story and I write it down for her reading notebook. (Those of you familiar with The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer will recognize this technique.) As her reading and writing improve, she’ll gradually start writing her own narration.

I’m not a particularly religious person, but I think that regardless of what religious path my daughter chooses, it’s important that she be familiar with the stories of the Bible, if for no other reason than so she can understand references in literature and do well when she watches Jeopardy! or plays Trivial Pursuit.

Wednesday we read the story of Cain and Abel. Here is my daughter’s version of the story, as dictated to me (note that the line, “This punishment is greater than I can bear!” is in the version of the story from the Children’s Bible):

There were two sons. And the youngest, Abel, was a shepherd. His brother, Cain, he was a farmer. And God had them to give him nice things. Abel gave him the nicest things. And Cain got so angry that he killed Abel with a rock. And God came back and said, “Where’s Abel?”

And Cain didn’t want to say, so he said, “I don’t know.”

“But,” said God, “who could have killed him?”

“I think maybe a bear could,” said Cain.

He put him into a city of Nod. It’s a place where people are so nice that Cain would not want to kill anyone else.

The end.

Week 4 Review

This is going to be a quick review; I’ve got a fevered baby who’s sleeping right now, but I know I could be called to duty at any moment.

Two things stand out as I look back on this week. First, I really think I’ve made breathing and recognizing judgmental thoughts a habit. I still have to remind myself from time to time, but it’s much more automatic than it was at first. Second, I’ve been wanting to incorporate into my Happiness Project teachings from other religious traditions in addition to Buddhism, but I wasn’t at all sure where to start. The task felt extremely daunting until Paul and Cindy left their comments on my “Not so Fast” post the other day. Isaiah 58 has given me a great deal to ponder, especially the part of verse 9 to verse 10 that reads:

“If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.”

This statement seems to cover much of what I hope to address with my Happiness Project. As Cindy commented, “we can fast from anything that distracts us from our goals or draws us into unhealthful patterns.” This seems like a good definition of “the yoke.” I realize, too, that I’ve already incorporated “fasting” into many of my resolutions. This month, although the resolution was just about bringing awareness to judgmental thoughts, the effect is that I avoid judgmental thoughts, something of an unintentional judgment fast. I have several intentional fasts in the coming months, too.

I now have a better idea of fasting and how it fits into my Happiness Project, and an idea of how to start exploring ideas from other religious traditions of mindfulness and releasing one’s light.

I love how I start to lose a bit of steam and then something piques my interest and gives me a nice little push again. I love the energy this gives to the last couple of days of August and the transition into my new focus in September!