…my words do. In between toddler tears, teething woes, sleepless nights, snotty allergy noses, algebra frustrations, and my own tears over the struggles of marriage and family life, I’ve had about 45 seconds to think about blogging. I want to write. I want to share stories about seeking God and making time for stillness. I want to share some pictures of sandy beaches and coastal treasures. I simply cannot find the words, most of the time, because when the tears stop, my mind has barely settled before they start up again.
A friend shared a thought-provoking article with me years ago, about monastery bells calling the religious back to prayer or to work. Those of us who are parents may often wish for the predictable routine of monastery life: prayer, work, meals, prayer, sleep all following the same pattern day after day. What bliss–one can always count on time for prayer and time for work. In my days, I can count on cold coffee, interrupted sleep, half-finished Hail Mary’s (not to mention dozens of started and forgotten decades of the Rosary), and an endless stream of interruptions, both urgent and not, simply because a child wants to share a story. Can you relate?
The idea was that for parents, those interruptions and unexpected needs are our monastery bells, drawing our attention to a more immediate need and where God wants us to serve those we love and Him faithfully and selflessly.
<mic drop>, as they say.
It turns out, the idea isn’t far from saintliness. Saint Frances of Rome, a mother herself, tried over and over to spend silent time in prayer with the Lord, only to be called away by her children who (as children will do, without fail) woke up wanting her, now. In time she realized that her call was (literally) away from her prayer book to serving her family.
“A married woman, must, when called upon, leave her devotions to God at the altar to find Him in her household affairs.” -Saint Frances of Rome
Might I add, that mothers also have a unique opportunity to perform works of mercy in a capacity that other vocations do not.
Toddler running amok, naked, giggling down the hall–and you dress them for Mass, errands, a trip to the park? Growing kids constantly out-growing their shoes and clothes? Clothe the naked.
Nighttime woes keeping everyone awake? Trouble at school? Friends move away? Comfort the sorrowful.
Correcting bad behavior for the umpteenth time? Admonish the sinner and instruct the ignorant.
Everyone is hungry. Again. You ran out of milk and bananas and the leftovers turned into a science project? Run to the store for the third time this week? Invite friends over? Feed the hungry.
Not lashing at a frustrated teen and misplaced anger? Bear wrongs patiently.
Take the family to Confession and encourage each to receive the Sacrament, teaching by example? Admonish the sinner, counsel the doubtful.
When the tears don’t stop, God calls me over and over again to continue serving in love and with humility. He calls me to draw near to Him and rely on Him, to meet the needs of my family fueled by His love and grace, to know Him in the joys and struggles and crosses of each day.
The crosses don’t stop coming. But neither does the invitation to trust in God more with each moment, and neither do the graces to nourish and strengthen our souls. If you also feel the weight of the struggle (it’s real), lean hard into God’s grace. He’s there, calling out to you and meeting you in the midst.