After many years of asking God to help me be a morning person, it has finally happened. Truly, wonders never cease!
The dogs and I come down before dawn and have the habit of taking a front row seat –I in my recliner and they sprawled out on the floor and couches– to the marvel of the sunrise, as the windows of our small library face east. Most days, I sip hot coffee and put the Laudate “app” on my Ipad to bring up the first few prayers of the Divine Office which accompany prayers from our Regnum Christi morning prayers and an offering I make as a spiritual mother for priests.
The dogs have trouble being still. Often, so do I. We keep trying. We do it. We sit and for a long time, there is quiet. The quiet is like a balm.
Homemaking and housekeeping have been my main occupation for so long now that staying home is not so hard as it used to be. Keeping house is at times boring. It is easy and tempting to allow the imagination to wander to more attractive pursuits: a dream vacation, a new house…maybe “where the grass is always greener,” on a farm where we could keep chickens and goats, a real job… where I get paid and can afford real housecleaners. The cleaning service here is really slipshod, so I am often told by myself and those living here.
Recently I was visiting our daughter who is a university student in Colorado. I had rented a very small apartment above someone’s garage; and, she was asleep on the futon while I did my usual morning thing. Maggie was sick, so I had been up long before she arose. When she awoke, I told her I was ready for “second breakfast,” another cup of coffee and some protein-rich food to keep me going. I love to think about those home-loving hobbits, the regularity of their daily lives, their simplicity and happiness.
Maggie read Tolkien at such a young age. I remember her 4th grade teacher calling Jerry and me in for a parent-teacher conference and telling us what a delight our daughter was to the class, that her two favorite things were to play with another little boy and the pet guinea pig the teacher kept for her students, as well as to pull out her hulking tome of Tolkien from time to time.
One day she pulled Maggie aside and asked her to read aloud from The Lord of the Rings. To the teacher’s surprise, she was really reading the story. Our eyes widened as she expressed to us her wonder at this. What can you say? We kinda shrugged our shoulders implying something like: “God is good. He gives; and, if we are true to His gifts, many good things happen.”
Now, I am experiencing, as the mother of a college-aged gal, a sort of motherly “second breakfast” with our dear daughter. It is amazing and wonderful to see the work of God in another human being. Maggie, since her youngest years, has had the gift of listening and of friendship. She knows how to be with another person and allow them to unburden themselves. I know the gift of her friendship as we are friends as well as mother and daughter.
It is not a surprise to me that she is studying Mathematics, Astronomy and Physics, as my husband and I called her “science baby” in infancy. She would sit contentedly for long periods of time observing …often pulling out my pots and pans and playing while I cooked and read…we were often quiet together. One of Maggie’s first words and observations was to point to a pair of argyle socks I had on and say, “pattrin’ mommy.”
Pattern is a verb too. To love and befriend God, we must pattern our days looking at the ancient, monastic traditions of Christianity. This can be done simply and at home by a lay person, with effort and with reward. A master of the spiritual life, Catherine Doherty writes in her small but powerful book, Molchanie: Experiencing the Silence of God (page 5, emphasis mine):
“Today people are hungry for friendship, for understanding, for someone to talk to, someone who really listens. But who of us ordinary mortals can really listen with the ear of the heart wide open, taking in every word that the other says? The weight of listening is heavy.
That is why we need to pray for a ‘spiritual bulldozer’ to make straight the ways of the Lord in our hearts, so that He might come unencumbered and do the listening in our hearts. So that He might understand, console, help, those who come to us!”
This Christmas I thought a lot about the gift of marriage and children in my life. I am extraverted by temperament. I tend toward distraction and dissipation. My plan in early adulthood was to be an international journalist, travel the world, write a novel, all that…
I have found with much peace and joy that there is no greater adventure than family life. Staying home, I ponder the universe and its Maker. I become, day in and day out, a friend of Him Who is Love. Our God and His heavenly friends give us the little loves we need to befriend others.
Well, let’s make time for more silence in our lives, not to check out, but rather to check in with our God who enters time. Speaking of that, it is time for second breakfast!