Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Vocation of Mother and Wife

This weekend, I had the chance to snatch a bit of a mini-retreat being held at my church.  It featured a pastor from another parish who had once been an associate pastor at ours.  He'd been a good friend and was much beloved. I remembered his zeal for the sacrament of confession and his absolutely resonating homilies and wondered if my memory had gilded over time.  It didn't matter.  I also knew I needed the break, needed the silence of listening, of being that came from going to the church without anyone and being there.

Standing in the church hoping to  steal the sacrament of reconciliation to top it off, there were people gathered for a wedding.  I stopped to admire the deliberate beauty, the details that included everything, even the men with their silk embroidered shirts.  There was a luminous quality to all these details and in the guests faces, waiting for the mass to begin.  Here, we cannot multi-task. Here, we cannot email or check websites or be distracted beyond the temptations of our own minds to run down rabbit holes.  We need this still place.  I stood in that stillness, knowing that I needed it and yet was restless.  I opted to let my sins stand as the line was still six deep with the organist warming up and headed back down to try and sit for the lecture.

Alas, I do not sit well. It is not in my nature to be still.  We'd barely made it through the opening prayer when I was fidgity.  I thought I'd take notes so I scrounged for paper in my purse.  There wasn't any.  So I went to the table for notices like 40 days for life and took a sheet.  While there, I noticed a woman wrestling with four.  This was familiar territory.  I went to help.  We wound up taking her smaller ones to the playground. We exchanged names, we shared stories and I felt better, that I needed to hear this woman and see what others see when they see me, and watching her, I could see how good it was, how much of a witness she was holding her daughter and caring for the other three in tow.  I felt blessed to meet her. 

Returning to the hall and the talk finally, I caught the tail end and I don't know what was said before, but he saved the best for the finale.  He spoke of priests living out their vocation, of saying each mass as if it were the first, their last, and the only.  And I thought, substitute being wife or mother and you have the prescription for how we are to pour out our lives.  We are to live each day as if it is the first day we are blessed to be his wife, each day as if it is the last day we will have that blessing, and to hold that title as only.   Likewise, we are to be mother to our children, to each as if it were that first day when we first inhaled the divine smell of them, as if it were the last day we'd be so blessed to hold them, and as the only, for each of them, as if they are the only.  

The mind reeled with the idea of seeking to treat each day as a birthday, a honeymoon, a sacrament, a mass, a feast.   It made it hard to fathom how life could be other than luminous even with all the scourges of minutia that awaited me. It was hard to wait, being so impatient to come back home, to fix lunch, to change diapers, to fold laundry, if only as part of pouring out whatever it was I'd kept in reserve.  If we do this, if we pour it all out, the best will be served later in the feast. 

This world does not understand motherhood or fatherhood or wifeliness or husbandness.  It views the first two as chains against freedom, the later two as utterly unnecessary.  The world views the product of such unions, a pure burden.   The world does not understand treating people with such permanent lavish love, or loving beyond what is easy.  The world talks of making time for "me" or balancing life.  We aren't called to be balanced, the world on one side and our faith/God on the other with us at the fulcrum.   The two aren't equally weighted.  It is us that weigh each according to our own heart's scale.  What we measure, we limit in value.  This is how much I will love, no more. 

We are not called to a limited life.  We have a limited life.  We are called to unlimited love.  We are called to love with abandon, forever, today, the people we have been given.

It's hard in even beginning to grasp that concept, not to imagine how wonderful today and all the todays to come will be, but now I can't wait!

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