The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Momfulness and The Ultimate Gift

Momfulness: Mothering with Mindfulness, Compassion, and Grace by Denise Roy demonstrates a keen sensitivity to family dynamics, the blessings and burdens of parenting, and the home as a workshop for spiritual development. “Momfulness” is her word for the spiritual practice of conscious mothering: “When we mother with mindfulness and compassion and a willingness to let this vocation awaken our hearts and transform our lives, we walk a spiritual path. We discover that care for our children and family is not a distraction from sacred practice but is the very essence of it.”

Roy presents thematic modules on presence, attention, compassion, embodiment, the sacred in all things and community. She believes there is no task or moment in the family context that cannot become an occasion for love and joy and meaning to abound. But mothers must take time for silence, solitude and self-nurturing if they are to continue to be able to serve others.

Roy presents a lively and eclectic group of spiritual practices including smiling (which she calls “mouth yoga”), hugging, body blessings, ways to frame the day, making sacred circles, planting trees, plus creatively named ideas such as “Late-for-School Practice,” the “Eye Contact Meditation” and the “Plan B Practice.” These simple practices are routes to a fresh and down-to-earth kind of parenting that makes the most of every grace moment that arises during the day (John Wiley & Sons).


The Ultimate Gift, directed by Michael Sajbel, is a parabolic film about one selfish young man’s spiritual transformation. Red Stevens, a self-made billionaire, has died and left behind a videotape message for his grandson, Jason (Drew Fuller). If he wants his inheritance he must fulfill a series of 12 challenges.

The first task is to come to appreciate the gift of work. This is a hard one since this “trust-fund baby” has had everything handed to him on a platter. In Texas, a rancher friend of Red’s makes Jason build a barbed-wire fence. The second challenge involves making due without money: his credit cards, penthouse and car are taken away. The third challenge is to learn the meaning of the gift of friendship. Jason struggles with this one but is fortunate enough to meet 10-year-old Emily (Abigail Breslin), a spunky and imaginative little girl who is dying of leukemia.

As he proceeds on the journey, Jason begins to slowly open his heart to others, and he becomes a more loving, compassionate, hospitable, generous and kind human being. He benefits from the gifts of learning and solving problems but is most stunned by the gift of family.

The Ultimate Gift is based on a self-published book by Jim Stovall that has sold 3 million copies. In these times when the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, it’s good to be reminded that true wealth is giving to others and not looking to satisfy our own needs (Fox Faith, PG).


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