Sunday, May 3, 2015

PBT Question # 4 to ask about any secular picture book:

Does the book contain or encourage a spiritual practice? (Compassion, Generosity, Gratitude, Prayer, Praise, Hospitality, Peacemaking, Reconciliation…)

This PBT question is a little easier to grasp. Do keep an open mind about what defines a spiritual practice. These are not just spiritual disciplines, like praying or fasting, nor are they always specific behaviors such as peacemaking. A spiritual practice might be an orientation towards others as in the case of compassion. You may know someone who is very generous although they have little money to give.

When approaching a picture book with this question, consider what in the picture book would please God. That question might help you focus on a spiritual practice. Then you can read the picture book to a group of children or adults and help them learn more about that practice in a context that is very real. Here’s an example:

Contemplation is a fuzzy word. Contemplative prayer is hard to define and much harder to perfect. Puzzling over a problem is sometimes called contemplation. However, contemplating God’s amazing world is a spiritual practice that we often engage in spontaneously without identifying it as a spiritual practice. Think of when you arrive at the beach or when you see a full moon. Just because you don’t express your joy with words doesn’t mean you aren’t moved and thankful.

Contemplation is beautifully abundant in the title character of The Incredible Peepers of Penelope Budd (Day 294 on February 7, 2015). Here are a couple of illustrations where Penelope is being especially observant and delighted. 
Helping children and adults identify what spiritual practices looks like will affirm the good inclinations and behaviors they already have while offering rich information for potential spiritual growth. Isn’t spiritual growth what all of us want?

In a day or so I’ll be wrapping up my explanation of the 5 PBT Questions to Ask about Any Picture Book by exploring Question #5. 
                                    May your spiritual practices delight God, Hanna

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