As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Quiet Place

Ever since I became serious about prayer life, I've longed for a quiet place for just me and the Lord.  When I still lived at home I managed to get an old kneeler from my parish and set it up in my room, but it quickly became a catch-all for a million other things except my knees.  In our first apartment we set up a small corner in our spatious spare bedroom, but that was quickly taken over by so many things we could barely even fit in the door!  When we moved here and started having children, well you guessed it - any spare space we had quickly needed to be put to use.  At least in that case it wasn't just clutter, but I still have always wished for just one extra room, if only a small one, to dedicate to quiet prayer.

I have done my best (okay, maybe it's just been a feeble attempt) to pray in the space I have.  Since praying in my bed in the mornings after Jeff leaves is futile, I've tried coming out into the living room and sitting in my chair.  I am a creature of comfort, however, and my cozy spaces have all turned into sleeping spaces.  I had resigned myself to the fact that maybe, in my current state of life, an early morning fervent prayer just isn't realistic.  And then recently, I found myself in conversation with some friends about a dear friend whose children are now grown.  This person I know for a fact did take morning prayer times - but she had a prayer "room", which she and her children used.  My friend mentioned almost casually that this person "was on her knees" praying for her children all throughout their childhood, and since then the image of being on my knees has stuck with me, mostly because I'm not. Prayer has not been uncomfortable for me, and so whenever I try to set it up with my own comfort in mind (snuggled under a cozy blanket on my favorite chair in the beautiful quiet and darkness of the early morning) it's no wonder I fall asleep!

In the meantime, I have started reading Dark Night of the Soul.  It's a book I've owned since before I was married, and somehow I feel like the Lord has only just started to prepare me for what's inside.  I long for the Night described in the book, where everything is quiet and I go to meet my Beloved.  And so I began again to search out a quiet place.  I dream of renovating our nursery to adjoin it to our bedroom, making a combination nursery/walk in closet/prayer room.  But of course, that cannot happen in the immediate future.  I thought about being on my knees, and concluding there is no reason I could not do that anywhere, decided to try it in my basement, in front of the fireplace just outside the kids' rooms.  I thought I could kneel by the ottoman, and then I remembered we had a second ottoman that never gets used, tucked away behind one of the couches.  I brought it upstairs and set it up in a small space of our bedroom, between our dresser and our bookshelf.  The sides of each of those pieces of furniture make a little cove of sorts to tuck myself away into, where I can sit for comfortable prayer, or kneel and rest on the ottoman.

I set aside what I was doing that morning to make everything just right.  I found a picture of my husband's of Jesus the Good Shepherd that I put on the wall above the kneeler, and hung a rosary from it.  I found a cross my uncle fashioned from wood from the pews of my childhood church, affixed with a crucifix from my Grandmother's rosary. I made a pillow from a quilt that was a wedding gift, but had become badly tattered after ten years of use.  I put the books I read most on the shelf within reach, and I put pictures of my children, Godchildren and other people I am praying for on the side of my dresser, to remind me to keep them before me in prayer.  I am going to try not to hold myself to any standard except to show up.  I don't know what my prayer times will look like, and I'll have no formula except to be there, I hope often.  And I hope my kids will use it too.  My second oldest tucked himself away two times yesterday to say an Our Father.  I'm certain it's the novelty of a new space in Mom and Dad's room right now, but I hope that in time it grows into something more.  We'll see, I guess.

For now, I continue to be amazed at how God provides for even my smallest desires from the things I already have.  When I'm asleep, I often dream that I find undiscovered rooms in my house - huge rooms that I set up to use as school rooms, play rooms, single rooms for each of the kids, or whatever extravagant use I could find for them.  But waking up to this house, and finding a quiet space in my own room that I can set up special and tuck away for quiet prayer feels just as good as my dreams.  Because I see that God is not limited by space, and not outdone in generosity.  In preparing a beautiful space for prayer, I hope that my heart follows suit, as I begin my journey into the Night. Intrigued, enticed and curious I set myself forth, seeking nothing but the face of my Beloved, who I know waits for me as He does each one of us, in that beautiful Night into which He calls us all.

"What they must do is merely leave the soul free and disencumbered and at rest from all knowledge and thought, troubling not themselves, in that state, about what they shall think or meditate upon, but contentiveness toward God, and in being without anxiety, without the ability and without desire to have experience of Him or to perceive Him.  For all these yearnings disquiet and distract the soul from the peaceful quiet and sweet ease of contemplation which is granted here to it." (St. John of the Cross)

1 comment :