Love in the Little Things: Tales of Family Life, by Mike Aquilina, is a "little book." You know what I mean: you take a look, think you can knock this book off by lunch time, and that'll be that.
But, Love in the Little Things is bigger than that. Yes, the reading is quick and easy, but the ideas loom larger than their appearance. Hmmm ... kind of like Jesus of Nazareth ... growing up in a non-descript way, living a quiet family life, full of hidden things beyond this earthly realm, beyond our imagining.
And that's what Mike Aquilina shows us: that family life is a very real reflection of the Trinity. It's the path to holiness for those of us who are called to this vocation.
But, these little vignettes aren't heavy-handed lectures. They are charming tales about Mike (often self-deprecating), his wife, Terri (adoring), and their delightful children (abundant fatherly love abounds.)
In this post, I mentioned that Mike used a few lines from one of my favorite Gerard Manley Hopkins poems. In "It's Verse than I Imagined" (and yes, many of the titles are punny, as are Mike's blog post titles), Mike takes a look at his daughter Mary Agnes's growing awareness of the unrelenting ways in which life will break our hearts. He inserts the Hopkins lines at the perfect moment -- and every parent will face a version of this moment -- and in doing so, elevates this essay from sweet and charming to profound.
And, he keeps doing that. In short pieces about his wife, his children and his parents, he shows us, time and again, that family life is bursting with opportunities to grow in holiness. Bishop Thomas Tobin, of Providence, called this book "a domestic catechism for the domestic church," and it is that, indeed.
I'm starting to sound like a broken record -- every time I read a writer I love, I say I want that writer to live next door to me, and come over for copious amounts of coffee (I think Mike would approve the beverage choice ... one of the essays is entitled, "For the Love of Coffee" ....)
I'm afraid it's true again. It's no secret that I love Mike Aquilina -- I spelled out the reasons why in this post about my first piece of published writing -- and I would love for Mike and Terri to move in next door. I'd love to meet their poetic Mary Agnes and their blunt Isabella (who, in "The Truth About Butterfly Princess" told her father, "That's OK, though. I'll bet you were really handsome back when Mommy married you.") I'd love to talk to Rosemary, the "great and cute saint," to meet sneaker-wearing Michael, who pays as much attention to what's on his feet as does my Anne-with-an-e, and to hug their little Gracie, whose encounter with beloved Papa John Paul II was as sweet as it was enviable.
In other words, I'd love to meet the whole crew. You will, too, after reading Love in the Little Things. And, while you're being charmed by these tales of family life, you just might pick up some tips and inspiration for that long and winding road to heaven along the way.