We have wrapped up our school lessons for the year. I plan to continue doing a few blocks throughout the summer at a casual and slow pace. I will touch on some mineralogy, astronomy, and nature studies as we head outdoors. Focused work like writing and math may take a back seat to more experiential and observational learning.
My second daughter just finished her main lesson block on the Middle Ages. She is still dabbling in calligraphy as she finishes up some illuminated manuscripts she had been creating after learning about the monastic way of life.
Manuscript is latin for “hand-written.” Illumination is latin for “enlightened” or “lit up.” These handwritten texts were painstakingly made with care in the name of God. Because of the work involved, some were expensive and only available to the rich or they were owned by the Church.
However, in my lessons with my daughter, we also studied a type of illuminated manuscript called “The Book of Hours.” The Book of Hours was for the lay person. It was a devotional book, sometimes containing miniature illuminated images, that contained prayers, feast calendars, and psalms tailored to the owner. Because of their portable size and minimal amount of images, they were more affordable.
(Image credit: Randolph-Macon Women’s College)
There was a common structure to the books but they were personalized by the owners through painted coats of arms, side notes, initials, monograms, mottoes, and portraits.
It was called the Book of Hours because there would be prayers that would be said at particular hours of the day. The popularity coincided with the rise in Marian devotion – the role of Mary as an intercessor between humanity and God. She was the “spiritual mother” who would hear the calls for mercy and act on humanity’s behalf. Most of these books were centred around “Hours to the Virgin.”
I love the concept of a Book of Hours. For the remainder of my 100 scribbles project, I will be creating my own Book of Hours. This is the theme of a new project that I will be creating with my good friend Brooke this summer – The Book of Hours – mamas edition.
My personal Book of Hours will be a visual text for reflection and a way for me to connect to the sacred and to home. A book that I can refer to throughout the day for guidance and comfort. It will contain themes for meditation and prayer. My modern version will include quotes or poetry or literary passages that give me courage, remind me of my purpose, inspire me creatively, bring me peace, or that are simply beautiful. There will also be personal thoughts, side notes, and miniature painted images and sketches. It will contain both conventional and unconventional prayers, mantras, and advice received.
This is not a journal. I have journals that contain mind dumps and streams of consciousness. They contain admissions of guilt, lists of gratitude and everything in between. In my journals, I self-flagellate and ask forgiveness in the same breath. I fill them with to-dos that sometimes never get checked off and goals I hope to achieve some day.
My Book of Hours is different. It will be a collection of what makes my spirit sing loudly and the whispers of my heart. I hope to pass this on to my children – a handwritten artifact of their mother who stopped long enough to hear her own soul’s calling and who acted on her own her behalf and on theirs. I hope they will read my Book of Hours and understand who their mother was beneath the surface and see that I was always striving, always a work-in-progress. I want them to read it and see it as their mother’s spiritual compass, a safe sanctuary where I was able to rest my feet, my head, and my heart.
What would you add in your own Book of Hours? What would you want to read daily that gave you a gentle push back out into the world, a reminder that everything is going to be ok?
100 scribbles…hurriedly writing the here and now.