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

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

God Makes Time

I had a brief but fruitful conversation with a friend of mine the other day. It was while our children were in a class together and we waited outside with our younger children, trying to have a grown-up conversation while simultaneously keeping our hooligans out of trouble (you know how it is!) In this quiet, slightly chaotic moment we shared together our difficulties carving out time for personal prayer.  And she told me that she's started carrying her bible around the house with her, because inevitably at one point or another she will have free time. It may not be first thing in the morning, it may not be when she's scheduled it. But if she's attentive, God always sends a quiet moment for her to turn her heart to Him.  And when she is prepared, she can take it in.

This is very much what Advent has been like for me so far.  We have been run ragged since well before our six-month-old son was born.  I foolishly took solace in the fact that, I thought, once he arrived we would be forced to slow down - but we weren't.  And so when the first week of Advent found us completely spent I knew it was the perfect time to drop the hammer and start to take back our daytimes, as an offering to the Lord.  We can't control our evening activities, but on a normal week we are only required to be out two days a week.  So for Advent I made it a family goal that no matter how much I wanted to, we would not go out any more than we needed to.  There have been events, quite a few now, that I have said no to.  But in the midst of that I find peace, because I see, like my friend, that when I am prepared and attentive the Lord does indeed make Himself available.  And I have so desperately needed Him.

Besides staying home, I've also been looking for opportunities to be with the Lord that are things I did in the past, way back when I first encountered God and He became real to me.  Last year I was able to make it to weekday Mass at least once during the week, but our school schedule has not allowed it this year and that made me a little sad.  But a few weeks ago I made the happy discovery that a church in the small town where we find ourselves with time to kill on our two outing days has a church that is open through the daytime (a rarity in our city).  So instead of running errands or visiting, I've been taking the younger kids to spend some quiet time in adoration instead.  I read a book about Mother Teresa recently, who counselled her friends to visit Jesus in the tabernacle, even if there isn't an actual adoration with the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance.  She even said that if you don't have time to go into the church, just stop in the parking lot for a few minutes to say a prayer, so we've been doing that. And in this way, we've found that God does indeed make time for us to visit Him - if we are attentive.

 We attended a small country church for the first time a few weeks ago to see a priest friend of ours because the Mass time jived with when we were in town, and discovered that this parish has noon Masses in the very town where my kids have their activities.  This means that now I can go to Mass on the days I'm taking the kids out.  It was such a blessing for me because I had resigned myself to the fact that maybe it just wouldn't work out for me this year, and then the Lord gave it to me - the opportunity my heart was longing for, which fit right into my schedule for timing and logistics. And again I see that God truly does make time for me.

Over the past two weeks I have been enjoying not rushing out every single morning, and have found that while the baby has been up through the night and first thing in the morning, it leaves us with extra time before school starts.  As I sat this morning drinking my coffee while the December sun streamed in through the windows and the kids played quietly downstairs, with still plenty of time before school started - I prayed. I haven't taken a prayer time in a long time, but just by being in that moment God was there - again, He made time for me.

And indeed many times throughout these past weeks of Advent we have had ample opportunities to be spontaneous in our family prayer life, because we're home.  We've read Advent reflections together, watched videos, played music, all things that bring joy to my heart. And when I think about how isolating motherhood can be at times and how much I long for consistent community and friendship, I see that in being home and present to my children God meets me here in this need too - He gives me community, he gives me companions for the journey, friends.

It's easy to see how as busy mothers we don't have time to do anything extra, and the desire for a life outside the home can be overwhelming.  But I'm slowly starting to see that by accepting my reality and concentrating on the people in my life right now (not the people I wish were in my life but can't be) that God does make time for personal prayer, for community, for friendship. He is in every aspect of my daily life, in the small moments in between rushing kids here and there, in the quiet mornings before school starts, in the crazy mid-afternoons when the house is upside down and we forego cleaning for just a few minutes to make music together.  In the calm of the evening after a crazy day when we turn out the lights, and the stress of the day melts into peace as the candlelight of our Advent wreath guides us into family rosary. No matter what your life looks like there is always time.  We just need to be attentive, and prepared.

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