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

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Hem of His Garment

My life is...overwhelming.  Happy, of course.  Blessed, and full of joy.  I have always wanted a big family, and I knew it would come with its own struggles.  And yet, that doesn't lessen their impact.  Living day in and day out with the intensity that comes with a large family can be draining.  It can be difficult to keep your gaze on Christ.

Which is why the opportunities I have for quiet devotions are so important for me.  It is extremely difficult to get a family our size out to adoration, so when we found out the parish near our home (within walking distance) has monthly adoration, we made a commitment to go when we can.  We try to keep our time there to about thirty minutes, understanding that children are children and ours (ages 3 months to 13 years) find it hard to stay still and quiet for such a long time.  We come expecting a time of prayer with our Our Lord, for the hearts of our children to be touched and for their lives to be changed. And time and again what we get is chaos and distraction - the constant stress of being on guard to make sure the two-year-old hasn't escaped, or telling the five-year-old to please use her indoor voice.  Silently losing your temper with the seven-year-old who should absolutely be able to sit still and be somewhat quiet by now, all the while realizing that your older children are chatting and giggling, and there just aren't enough parents to keep on top of it all. 

Oh yeah, and Jesus is there too.  Let's talk about that.  Because every parent who brings young children to adoration knows the feeling of glancing up and seeing the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar, adorned in the monstrance and bathed in the soft glow of candlelight.  We catch a glimpse and know we should be moved.  We try to rush a prayer or a sense of awe into a split second before scanning again, or worse - being interrupted by imminent upset of some kind by the dear little ones we bring here.

Of course we know it is not all bad.  In fact, it is quite good.  And that is why we keep coming, and keep bringing our children.  Knowing all the while that through the craziness Jesus does meet us, does touch our hearts, that there is no better place for our little ones to be than at the foot of the King.  And yet the heart can't help but desire a moment, just a moment, of oneness with the Lord whom we adore.  Sometimes it seems so unfitting to call what we do "adoration", when looking at Him is so scattered amongst the parenting that comes when little ones need discipline in sacred places.  At best, I'd say it feels more like being present.

This evening we came for adoration.  We always come for the last half hour, to allow the faithful adorers the opportunity of having some quiet contemplation before bringing our more lively crew in.  They know us well and are always happy to have the children there, but it's still difficult not to feel some sense of responsibility to keep them quiet, not only for the other parishioners but also for themselves, in the hopes that the sacred will touch them.  After about ten minutes of tricking my two-year-old into staying with me, he realized he had been duped and there was no restraining him without loud protests any longer.  I moved across the aisle where there was an open door to the church lobby, which allowed me to kneel in front of the Blessed Sacrament and have a view of the lobby, a space my boy could safely run without being too much of a distraction.  But of course as I tried to sneak stealthily to my new position, I was promptly joined by a not-so-conspicuous follower.

Huddled at the front of the church with these two who, having the freedom to run and play away from where the Lord was exposed decided instead they would prefer to try and wrestle their way back to the place we had previously been (which they definitely DID NOT want to stay in while we were there, never mind that it would have saved us from getting up and crossing the front of the church in the first place!) I spent my time quietly directing and silently (at times with desperation) pleading for them to "please be quiet", "please run that way," "you can only sit with me or run outside," "no you can't go back to Daddy."  I felt like a hive with bees buzzing around me, and even when I did convince them to run out in the lobby ("go look out the window!"), I still only caught the Lord in small glances, between which I always had to direct my eyes back to where my children were playing, lest they get into trouble.

It was during one of these glances that I was seized by what a gift God was giving me in this moment. As I fixed my eyes ever so briefly on the Blessed Sacrament, I felt as though the Lord was saying, "This is the hem of His garment."  And I recalled in scripture the haemorrhaging woman, and how that was enough for her.  She too, had people buzzing around her.  She too was filled with distraction - her illness, the noise, the crowds.  But she knew if she just made it to Him, whatever she could touch of Him was enough.  And when He felt that touch, He could feel power flow from Him to her.

I felt this tonight.  My heart quickened as I prayed, and from then on even if I wasn't looking directly at the Blessed Sacrament this image was with me.  I knew that what little moments I have with Jesus among the chaos are enough, if I have faith. I don't need to have a full hour of contemplation, or even time to gather my thoughts perfectly.  I don't need to squeeze a rushed prayer into a few moments before my mind is taken to somewhere that I'm needed.  I simply need to recognize it for what it is - an opportunity to reach out, to grasp, to be desperate, and to be met.  She didn't even see His face, just his cloak, but it was enough.

It seems to me that maybe this might be my life for the next little while.  Until little ones are older and life is a little less intense, certainly prayer during my daytime hours will be much like grasping for the hem of His garment.  It will be a very long time before I can expect to take long prayer times, or hear and reflect on every part of the Mass, read a spiritual devotion uninterrupted or make a quiet and contemplative Holy Hour.  When that day comes I will truly cherish it.  Until then, I will keep reaching for the hem of His garment.

No comments :

Post a Comment