“Thus far the mighty mystery of motherhood is this: How is it that doing it all feels like nothing is ever getting done?”
This is what goes through my mind as I finally lay myself down in bed tonight. I yelled at my kids, there are dishes in the sink, and I’m just pretending not to see the pile of laundry in the corner of my room.
But…I got one-on-one story time with my littlest, talked with my 5 year old about when our unborn baby got its soul, and painted my daughter’s fingernails.
And that counts.
Sometimes you have to admit when you’re beat.
31 day blogging challenge? I’m beat. I’ve always been someone with plenty of intention. All kinds of intention. I just have a hard time on the follow-through. I was determined to write 31 posts on one topic, even if they weren’t published consecutively, but I realized that at least in this instance, my blind will to finish my commitment was keeping me from moving forward – I got stuck on 31 days, and let all kinds of other writing ideas and inspirations disappear into the creative ether.
There is something to be said for keeping a commitment for commitment’s sake. In fact, it’s something I want to practice much more. But not now, not today. Today I’m moving on.
Today I’m thinking about new things. About a new year, a new day, a new life. A new baby growing in my belly. An unexpected gift. Though logically I should be anxious, this new little one was so unplanned that I can’t do anything but accept. I smile to myself to think about this little secret seed I carry, safe and warm and hidden, in one of the coldest, dreariest months of the year.
I’m beat. I’m tired. But I’m hopeful and expectant. Things are changing as they always do. I’m letting them change, letting them pull me, lift me, take me somewhere new.
31 Days: The Surrender
On this Sunday morning, after a difficult and draining week, I am sharing this wonderful article from one of my favorite blogs. Enjoy, and get cooking.
My kids wrote their letters to Santa yesterday. The opening lines of each letter say a lot about each kid:
Seamus: “Dear Santa, I hope you like our cookies!”
Meara: “Dear Santa, I don’t want you to eat all our cookies.”
Eamon: “Dear Santa, racecar.”
“I have advice for people who want to write. I don’t care whether they’re 5 or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. And second, you need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write. The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.”
Sometimes finding the still point comes from doing, being faithful to the practice of your talents. Then the Spirit brings to life that beautiful result around which your daily work revolves.
Every year at the beginning of Advent, I begin to plan two things – the handmade gifts I will make for Christmas, and the huge deals I will take advantage of on Cyber Monday. It seems that second plan never materializes.
This year, I was determined to knock out a big chunk of my Christmas shopping on Cyber Monday. We’re a little tight on money these days (who isn’t?) and I was sure I could get a bunch of good deals for a lot of the people on our list. I camped out on the computer all day. I thought and rethought. I compared prices. I added and deleted items from my shopping cart for hours.
And I didn’t end up buying a single thing.
Every year, the desire of my heart is to give those I love intentional gifts, thoughtful and meaningful and full of my love for them. I abhor the buy, buy, buy mentality that I usually still end up falling into come late December, when my extravagant handmade intentions have not been realized. And buy, buy, buy is exactly what you are supposed to do on Cyber Monday. If you don’t buy this TODAY, all the websites scream, you will miss out on this amazing deal! Do it now! Don’t wait, don’t think, just buy!
Now, is it possible to buy affordable, thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list on Cyber Monday? Yes. Was this my attitude yesterday? No. Will I hand-craft the perfect gift for everyone on my list this year? Yeah, right! I never do. But at least I can try. And I can refuse to let the people I love most turn into a check on my to-do list. Christmas gift-giving seems to have turned into a burden these days, and I hate that. What is burdensome about giving those closest to you in the world something that will bring them joy? I’m challenging myself to give gifts of love, whether they are from Target, or off of my knitting needles. How about you?
This morning, I found myself in my fleece-sheeted bed with my three year old under one arm, my two year old against my back, and the cat purring on top of me. When my first son was born, we hardly ever let him sleep in bed with us, worried that we would never break him of it. Now I sadly imagine the near future, when babies will have disappeared into the bodies of taller, more independent children. My husband always loved falling asleep with the babies. He still reaches for the smallest after a hard day, the two of them dozing on the couch together.
These warm little creatures nestled against me bring so much peace – we are each other’s refuge and rest, a still place of perfect love, nothing asked but everything received.
“The light of truth burns without a flicker in the depths of a house that is shaken with storms of passion and fear.”
This line from Merton reminds me of a poem I wrote called There Is a Face that opened with these lines:
There is skin, and under
the skin, bone and under
the bone, a steady light –
a tall flame on a still night.
I wrote it imagining our bodies as the house Merton speaks of – a hall of flesh and bone with a holy fire burning deep inside. That still flame, that unwavering light, is the Love which created us and for which we were created. The still point is finding and living in the fire of that Love.
“When you don’t know what to do, do the dishes.”
When I was part of a group studying contemplative prayer through Thomas Merton’s writings, our facilitator used to say this. He meant that when we are confronted with the big mysteries – God, peace, eternity, fulfillment, silence, what does it all mean? – sometimes the best response is to do the menial, daily task that happens to be right in front of you.
Pretty good advice.
There are so many things I should be doing at any given moment that it’s easy to get lost in the midst of all of them and end up doing nothing. Or end up doing a lot of things, but not doing them very well. When all of the tasks – menial and monumental – are swirling around me, calling for my attention, sometimes the best place to start is the dishes. There is comfort in picking up each one, rinsing it, putting it in its proper slot in the dishwasher, and in its proper place in the cabinet. I may not know where I’ll be in five years, but the dishes? Those I can do.
If only the rest of life were that simple – pick up a dream, a goal, a career, put it in the right spot, and everything falls into place. Voila! Your messy life is clean, your sink empty and gleaming.
So it’s not that simple. But at least it’s a start. Now please excuse me. I have to go do the dishes.
“A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”