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The Zen of the Aquadoodle

Chiara received an “Aquadoodle” for her birthday from Grandma Mary Ann and Popi Neil this week. Basically this is a mat that comes with a special pen that allows kids to draw with water. It even includes little step-by-step instructions on how to create cats and dogs and houses. The beauty of this, for parents at least, is that kids can’t draw on the carpet or couch or counters because the pen, which is loaded with water, works only on the Aquadoodle mat. Read more

Balancing the spiritual and secular

Why, you may ask, is someone who writes about Christian spirituality using a Taoist Yin Yang symbol as art? Well, the easy answer is that it’s all part of the Tao of Mary. My years of dabbling in Eastern philosophy still cling — in a very minimal sort of way — to the periphery of my spiritual life. Not because I’m looking for something outside the Christian Way, but because I find so many elements of Eastern spirituality to be a beautiful supplement to our own practices. The whole notion of Yin Yang — that opposing but complementary aspects of our lives can happily co-exist — is something so basic and, well, Christian, to me. We cannot separate our lives into individual and isolated boxes. Spirituality here, work there, exercise here. They have to overlap and exist in a kind of healthy tension. If they don’t, we end up with everything slipping to one side, figuratively speaking, and suddenly our Yin is left without a Yang, and that’s never good.

I first discovered the ability of Eastern practices to further my Western prayer when I learned Hatha yoga many years ago. Hatha is another Yin Yang sort of philosophy, focusing on the opposing energies of hot and cold, sun and moon. Hatha yoga is about preparing the physical body for a spiritual experience. Not necessarily something mystical but something beyond the norm, whether our “norm” is sitting in a chair with a remote control in hand or driving a car down the highway at 65 MPH with the radio blaring. Read more