Part family journal, part craft book, and part collection of ideas, The Rhythm of Family: Discovering a Sense of Wonder through the Seasons by Amanda Blake Soule is a meditative peek into the daily life of the family behind the popular blog SouleMama. This is the third offering from Soule, but the first in which she shares writing duties with her husband, Stephen, and the result is a gathering of quiet and gentle thoughts on how they experience "family." By choosing to orient their lives around the rhythms of the natural world, the Soules have opened themselves up to finding joy in simplicity and they send out a welcoming call for us to do the same.
We begin with January and progress through the year with an essay from "mama" and "papa" for each month as well as season-appropriate crafts and family activities. One is struck by the simplicity of it all. The Soules aren't reinventing the wheel here, but it's this very lack of novelty that makes their thoughts so engaging. Through their intentional selection of that which could have slipped into the mundane (a family picnic, baking bread, and keeping a garden journal, to name a few), they encourage us to look upon our own lives with a greater sense of awareness and an eye towards embracing the beauty in those things that are small and easily missed. The pace is slow. For them, it's not about joining the race of today's modern harried life or having the biggest and the best. Instead, we have ruminations on tomatoes, childhood memories, and baseball gloves.
In one of the most touching and memorable excerpts, the lone Soule daughter races into the house to procure glue sticks in order to build a bridge to assist some ants in crossing a stream of water. There is mud tracked into the house and doors left open and craft supplies taken outside where they don't belong. Mama is deciding which scolding to give when she is struck by the sweet and imaginative play unfolding before her. Instead of mopping the floor or punishing the young girl for dirtying it, she joins her outside. This attitude of being in collaboration with our children and allowing them the autonomy to teach us a lesson every once in awhile is imbued throughout. At its core, The Rhythm of Family is a guide to making connections: connecting with our intentions; connecting with natural rhythms; and most importantly, connecting with each other.