a letter for April 10th

Thank you for your sweet notes to check on my whereabouts.  All is well and your kindness makes it more so.

Dear friends: The Sun Came Out.   Last Thursday, to be exact.  And while we waited for Meg to finish piano lessons, Caleb and I took a long walk around our old neighborhood in the city - along the ridge overlooking the golf course and down the nearly hidden staircase to the park where all my used-to-be little ones had their earliest nature lessons.   We made a beeline for the see-saws, which is always our first destination, and had a good talk while we pushed each other up and and down.  Amazingly, we had the same thing on our minds:  too much internet. 

I remember the good old days when controlling media meant selling the TV and the GameBoy.  We must have sold and bought four or five TVs over the last 15 years.   I remember those media-free islands of time as bits of paradise.   But controlling media use in the internet age is a whole other dilemma; how to equip kids for navigation of their inherited world and still provide old-fashioned spaces of time for boredom and creativity? 

Caleb and I talked about it while we rode the dark green see-saw in and out of the sky.   We both agreed that with 6 computer users in the house there was almost always someone - at any given hour of the day - with their face turned towards a screen; we seemed to need hard and fast rules to follow since we aren't very good at self-monitoring. 

At dinner that night we talked it over as a family.  Everyone at the table agreed there was a problem too.  We talked fondly about the TV-free days and one of the older kids told me how much they missed our old tradition of reading aloud before bed - something I'd given up on when the teenagers got too busy to show up for a family book and a regular bedtime.   So we brainstormed and came up with some boundaries, and the last few days we've been working it out. 

With the exception of online classes and homework, the new internet hours at our house are:  before 7 am and from 3-5:30 pm Monday through Saturday, with a small amount of free time on Sundays.   Plus, you have to earn your time on the computer with an equal amount of outdoor time (or if the weather doesn't permit, an equal amount of creative time on a project or hobby.)  

It's actually been quite exciting, because the time each person does have online is well-earned, anticipated and appreciated.  We have a notebook open on the desk where each of us can note down something that we want to look up or read when it is our turn and that has helped focus our time online as well.

Of course, I'm desperately behind on emails now.  *smile*  (And if you have emailed recently I WILL be returning those in the next couple of days.)  But the old excitement of owning our days is back.  I've had more exercise and finished more projects this week than I did the entire last month.  Blogging will suffer, Facebook may not fit into my schedule at all, but it is so rewarding to really fill out each of the God-given hours with living.

The rest of this month is going to be full to the brim as we finish up some work around the house in anticipation of Easter celebrations and a special visitor the last week in April.  I'll pop in when I can.  

(Pictures are from my 2007 journal, notes from a TV-free season.)

For a little inspiration, here's a bit of Wendell Berry to carry with you.  It applies to more than just poetry. 

 How to Be a Poet  By Wendell Berry

(to remind myself)


Make a place to sit down.   
Sit down. Be quiet.   
You must depend upon   
affection, reading, knowledge,   
skill—more of each   
than you have—inspiration,   
work, growing older, patience,   
for patience joins time   
to eternity. Any readers   
who like your poems,   
doubt their judgment.   


Breathe with unconditional breath   
the unconditioned air.   
Shun electric wire.   
Communicate slowly. Live   
a three-dimensioned life;   
stay away from screens.   
Stay away from anything   
that obscures the place it is in.   
There are no unsacred places;   
there are only sacred places   
and desecrated places.   


Accept what comes from silence.   
Make the best you can of it.   
Of the little words that come   
out of the silence, like prayers   
prayed back to the one who prays,   
make a poem that does not disturb   
the silence from which it came.



much love and much living to you all,