Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Just what the doctor ordered.

For the past week or so, Bella has been getting up early. As in, between 5 and 5.30 am. Her new schedule has severely cut into (read: obliterated) my morning prayer time, which was when I used to pray the Divine Office and read the day's gospel. Being the monastic Carmelite-at-heart that I am, I panicked yesterday morning.

I need my quiet time! Where's the schedule? Where's the peace?

By 8pm, I'm too exhausted to really pray (whatever that means).

She also stopped napping for more than about 45 minutes.

It's only a phase. She'll get through this. Then, at last, I'll have my quiet time.

Needless to say, Evlogia's words of experience and divine wisdom was written for me this week:

"I spent the first decade of motherhood waiting for a moment of quiet. As soon as the children are older, I can pray. As soon as the house is clean and organized, I can be at peace. As soon as we get through this trying time, then I can be the kind of wife and mother that I truly want to be."

But of course, the vocation to be at home with the children is--in God's infinite wisdom--not about me fulfilling my vision of the perfect wife and mother. Most of the time, it's about learning to hear, to see, to worship the face of God in the littlest things and most inconvenient circumstances. Finding the rhythm and peace of prayer happens not in the schedule of monastery bells, but in that total surrender to and refusal to rebel against his voice in the children's voices.

Another big help has been the discovery of Mid-Day Prayer, the continuation of "my" lost Morning Prayer. Oddly, I've never regularly prayed the daytime Psalms of the Divine Office, but Bella calms down enough in the afternoon for me to slip in a few of them before her sister gets up.

Funny thing: They tend to say the same thing. Either: "Lord, I really need you right now"; or: Lord, I screwed up, but I've looked myself over and decided to return to your ways."

Exactly what a mother needs in the middle of her day.

For example, yesterday at 2pm I left the screaming toddler in her bed for ten minutes and read:

Remember your word to your servant
By which you gave me hope.
This is my comfort in sorrow
That your promise gives me life." -Psalm 119

Then this afternoon:

Antiphon I: "I have pondered my ways and turned back to your teaching." (Amen. Time to turn back to the joy of the Lord!)

Then this one made me laugh out loud:

"O God, listen to my prayer,
do not hide from my pleading.
Attend to me and reply;
with my cares, I cannot rest." -Psalm 55

Ain't it the truth?

On a very small scale, of course. There's always perspective, and my trials are nothing next to the trials of, say, a mother in Haiti right now. But the joy and gift of the Scriptures is that they speak to us in all sets and sizes of temptations: from despair of the slums to the simple noonday devils in the suburbs. No soul is too insignificant to be redeemed, and these words saved me today.


Young Mom said...

I am forever tempted to let perfectionism get in the way of living. Thank you for your encouragment.

Karyn said...

Jen at the Conversion Diary mentions the domestic monastery. It really helps deal with the frustration of the day to day things:

Annita, Mom2Seven said...

After a particularly difficult day full of self-doubt and feeling completely overwhelmed, I needed to read this post. Thank you. +JMJ+

Melanie B said...

Oh yes. That beautiful piece from evlogia spoke to me too. Just what I need.

For some time the mid day psalms really bugged me. I'm not sure why but I found them a stumbling block. Then I found a commentary on psalm 119 (which appears almost every day) and it opened my eyes to the beauty of that office. I alternate during nap time between the Office of Readings and the daytime psalms, depending on whether I feel like I'm about to collapse or whether I need a greater dose of wisdom from the longer readings. Actually I've fallen off this week. Thanks for the encouragement to pick myself up again and come back to praying as I can.