This morning I can breathe through my nose! My son slept through the night. And my husband didn’t keep me awake with his feverish ickiness. We’re on the mend. And as a result, here I am, having just prayed through my morning Psalms, and having just thanked God for not leaving even though I was not near him for a major chunk of time. Why is it that my entire connection with God seems to be run by my ability to have a consistent schedule? I’m conflicted about that. It’s pretty lame right? I shouldn’t be looking back at the past week and a half of my being sick and my family being sick—mornings up with my son at 6 (when I would usually be praying), my constant wariness and need for naps, our family’s mutual snottiness—as an overarching excuse for prayerlessness.
How can I pray like a monk when my day is not like a monk’s? In my hypothesis that monks and moms have a lot in common, there is one major flaw: we have different definitions of community. In monastic life, community is essential; but a monk’s community is following the same life and path as he (or she!) is. There’s someone ringing the bell that calls a monk to prayer. A mother’s community is not called to prayer with her. Her community is having a conversation with Elmo about bubbles while she seeks to pray. It’s not just that we mothers are distracted from prayer by our community, it’s that we’re lonely in prayer.
In one of my attempts to read during August’s naptime instead of falling asleep (which is what my viral body was wanting to do most of this past week), I spent some time with De Caussade, whose book, The Sacrament of the Present Moment, I’ve mentioned before. Here’s the word that my man Jean-Pierre has for us mamas, struggling to live out our faith at home: “To live by faith, then, is to live in joy, confidence, certainty and trust in all there is to do and suffer each moment as ordained by God.” He challenges us to face every obstacle “courageously and with confidence” (22-23).
My friend Amy, who blogs at Splendor in the Ordinary, shared something with me recently that is challenging me this morning. She said she’d been thinking she should use her time folding laundry as a time for prayer. But her thinking was off. She was seeing prayer as something separate from the work she was doing and her attempts to pray while folding just weren’t working. She couldn’t keep her mind on Christ. In her frustration her husband challenged her that instead of seeing prayer as a way to use her mind during the physical act of folding, she could just let her mind be fully present in the work she is doing, and offer that work to God.
I wonder how much of my day I’m either not thinking about God or am feeling guilty for not being in constant conversation with God? When all along, I’m seeing prayer as this separate thing from the rest of my life. What if in this past week and a half, I had simply been sick and cared for my family and offered those moments to God, not waiting for a time of health when I could pray in a focused way? What if I could learn to live as De Caussade encourages us to live: fully and joyfully present in each moment (even the uncomfortable or painful ones), offering my life to God in faith, courageously and with confidence?