I've taken a few days off from writing and thinking so that I could read and listen.
It is difficult to have your brain in a posture/position of listening while also thinking/talking. I often need to power down my thinker and acquire wisdom... then spend several weeks writing and thinking it all through.
This week has yielded an abundance of riches through listening. One thought--in the crowd of good truths--is emerging victorious... so I'll start there:
Motherhood is the new Monasticism.
Thomas Merton says, "The monk is a Christian who has responded to a special call from God, and has withdrawn from the more active concerns of a worldly life." It strikes me that you make a similar intentional commitment when you choose to dedicate your life to bearing and raising your children.
I could have given myself to so many other endeavors. I could have done work that would have earned me an identity ("This is Blair. She's a designer."), praise and affirmation from others ("I saw your project. You do good work."), an easily recognizable and quantifiable sense of success, a public and visible legacy built and measured by output, creation, and connections.
Instead, I've been called (with many of my other sisters in the world) into an invisible life of endless servanthood. (I can't say I chose it... it chose my and dragged me down kicking and screaming.) I've been given the task of doing the lowest work by the world's/society's math: Wiping butts, cooking meals, cleaning toilets, kneeling to scrub floors, waking in the night to tend patients who are virtually the equivalent of angry quadriplegics who don't speak English. And charged to do it all with a sense of thankfulness, compassion, and deep love. Every day. Every night. Without a break... ever. "On call" 100% of the time without ever a moment that you can--with full confidence--expect privacy, quiet, or relief from responsibility.
Is there any other job out there with such a high set of demands?
Is there any other job which requires all of you in this way?
Is there any other job which, though it asks so much, gives back so little?
We cannot view motherhood as a job... or we will quit. We must view it as a calling. God has called us out of the world (with its measures for success and it's metrics for merit) and into the silent trenches of service.
Considering that, is there any other job that more fully resembles a monastic life than that of Motherhood?
So, ask yourself... What dignifies, enriches, and empowers the monastic calling?
Prayer. A life of prayer. The "prayer of the heart."
This too transforms, dignifies, and radically empowers the calling of motherhood. This lowest, highest, position.
When I understand my position as a calling, my life becomes an act of prayer at the highest order... an act of surrender to God.
I'll close with this quote for you to ponder today:
"If is it true that the deepest prayer at its nub is a perpetual surrender to God, then all meditation and specific acts of prayer might be seen as preparations and purifications to ready us for this never-ending yielding." -- Contemplative Prayer, forward by Douglas V. Steere.