O Prayer, Where Art Thou?
I collapse on the couch and breathe a sigh of relief. The kids are asleep. The dishes are being put away by my wonderful husband and I can finally settle in for a little bit of prayer before bed.
I open EWTN to pull out the daily Mass readings and my eye catches a biography of St. Zita. I don’t know her…perhaps I will read about her for a minute.
Paul’s conversion. Knocked off a horse, blinding light, Ananias. Why.is.my.brain.so.foggy.todaaaaaaay.
It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that my toddler was up sick for the better part of last night and I got at best 1 hour of sleep. Or that my baby was sick three days before that and I got at best 1 hour of sleep. And both kids and my husband and I got food poisoning the week before, and before that the baby had roseola and come to think of it I don’t think my kids have been healthy for more than a day since Easter! Ok, ok, back to prayer. I need to focus here. “Reason can but ascertain the profound difficulties of our condition, it connot remove them.” – Cardinal Newman. What does that even mean? Maybe I should read it again. Wait…it connot remove them? How many times did I read that and didn’t even see that typo. This quote is clearly getting me nowhere.
Six minutes left….I should probably pray for those people who asked me to pray for them. Those people….who were they again…um…they were sick. Two ladies. Lord please heal those ladies who asked me to pray for them. On second thought, heal my kids ‘cuz clearly we have an epidemic in our household. Or, wait, heal them both…yes, that’s much better, heal them both. But if you could hurry up with my kids and do that first I’d really appreciate it.
I’m Mama J, and these are my Mama Moments….
Alright, while I was tempted to leave it at that I’m going to go on here. Let me introduce myself. Wait, I already introduced myself. Let me tell you about myself. Briefly. I am a Catholic first, wife second, mom third, and all encompassing that a Secular Order Discalced Carmelites, or “OCDS”…although my husband may use that acronym to describe other aspects of my personality. I was asked by Team Orthodoxy to give a mommy perspective to their wonderful blog. So, here I am, boldly entering the blogosphere with my meanderings. Please keep in mind when reading this that my theological credentials are that I am a Catholic, stay at home mom with a leaning towards the Carmelite charism.
Which is why I’m starting with prayer. Ah, prayer. I have a love-hate relationship with prayer, as you can see. St. Teresa of Avila teaches the importance of learning to actively always be in the presence of God. This is hard. Really hard. Especially when you’re tired, or busy, or trying to not focus on the million and one things that need to be done that now that you’re children are asleep, you finally have time to do. Quality prayer is hard to come by, and nights like above (and I’m not making that up, that is honestly EXACTLY my thoughts, I wrote them down right after I finished), make it easy to throw in the towel and say that its just not worth it. I’m clearly not getting anything out of it. But that’s not entirely true. Prayer is about building relationship. How can we know God, if we don’t, you know…spend time with him? How do we maintain a relationship if its non-existent?
I have wonderful conversations with my husband where we stay up way too late talking about things that we need to, or sometimes don’t really need to be talking about. But I also have nights where he’s talking, and I’m thinking about what to blog about, or reading the news,and only half-heartedly listening to what my beloved is telling me. And, God love him, he understands that I’m not trying to be rude, I’m just burnt out and can’t really focus on the details of his job or why politicians are doing a terrible job at running our country. But even just sitting next to him, with poor quality conversation going on, while I “mmhmm” and “yes dear” at the appropriate moments, is still better than him sitting upstairs reading the news while I sit downstairs and watch tv. It shouldn’t be the only conversations that happen, but it happens. It’s a balance of quality and quantity.
Prayer can be mind-blowingly powerful, and it can also be tedious, but if we don’t give God that window, that opening, we’ll never get a chance to let him speak to us. I might ignore the majority of what my husband says, but I have great joy in knowing that he just wants to talk to me, and I hope he knows that I do put in a concerted effort to listen to him, even if I’d rather be turning my brain off and sleeping on the couch. And I’m sure God knows that too. Even though my prayer seemed completely fruitless…I still managed to get my first blogpost out of it!
“You in me, and I in you – may this be my motto. What a joyous mystery is your presence within me, in that intimate sanctuary of my soul where I can always find you, even when I do not feel your presence. Of what importance is feeling? Perhaps you are all the closer when I feel you less. You are there nevertheless, and I love to seek you there. I wish never to leave you alone, let my life be one continual prayer.” — Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity