Thursday, January 06, 2011

Contemplation... A New Years Resolution

Is it possible to be both contemplative and go-go-go?

Are they mutually exclusive ?

I tend to have an attraction to contemplative prayer, to be,  in my very imperfect way, with God, in prayer. Being inspired by St Teresa of Avila amongst others. Her "Interior Castle."

My vocation and my personality, however , can seem to be the antithesis of contemplation.

So what do mothers and wives, working mothers , Homeschooling mothers, volunteering wives, we home managers... do? 

In other words, how do we live balanced lives. For life should be lived on a fairly even keel. Yes , I can be a person of highs and lows. That makes life interesting. But there shouldn't be Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde highs and lows. People , our husbands, our children , our friends , our colleagues , our fellow parishioners expect that even keel. That balanced life.

And our spiritual life , our interior life of contemplation, should reflect this. Loving Our Lord and being faithful and then serving with a smile reflects our joy of contemplative prayer . Regardless of current , perhaps passing, emotions. Even regardless of feelings in prayer.

Mother Teresa, in fact. 

(My words or motto for this year. But that's another post)

How do we do this? It has been said of me that I work hard, I play hard, I pray hard.

But to keep that even keel, to serve Our Lord and others, I need the grace of God.

An excellent, inspiring homily that I heard yesterday , in Epiphany-tide , addressed this. Reflecting on the First Letter of St John, on love. If we abide with God, if God abides with us , we should share His grace and love , with love, ourselves.

As Father said , we may not like our neighbour, we do not even have to, but we do have to love him as Christ loves. Perhaps showing this love simply by praying for another.

In a similar fashion , we may not like some of those tasks on a mother and wife's to do list. We can, however , still execute them with love.

Perhaps contemplation in action.

Sometimes in prayer I feel like I  am somewhere else ( a Battlestar Galactica cylon experience for sure ! )

The trick for me to learn is to take that experience of being caught up with Our Lord, that joy, that peace, that lack of tiredness, into all the other spheres of my life .

Except it is not really a trick, is it? It is a knack, a skill, a grace that many mothers and wives possess and develop . Bringing God's love to those around them, in their daily tasks. In that tidying up. In going to work when tired . In offering up that criticism and answering with a smile. Even when , especially when, we don't feel like it . Even when, especially when, we lose that other world feeling in prayer and experience dry toast in our prayer life.

Especially then. 

Ask Mother Teresa.

January is a month of resolutions. Those New Years resolutions. And so, maybe, a mother and wife's resolution can be that even keel, that sharing God's love, that contemplation in action.

I think it is possible . Not on our own strength but with the grace of God. 

I perused self help books  at Borders yesterday. In that effort to balance my life , to be better, to think of my motto or words for the year (think New Years resolutions). Most of the advice was  superficial or anecdotal or, worse , bringing ideas of corporate goals and action plans and strategies into our families and personal lives.

And later, when praying the Evening Office, when thinking about the masses I had prayed at on our holiday , the homilies I had heard, the books I had read on break ( Mother Teresa, celebrating the liturgical year ), I realized that the ultimate self help books for we wives and mothers are our spiritual lives ... Our contemplation in prayer , in the Rosary and in the Divine Office, our experience of God in Holy Mass, our listening and learning, our daily offerings, our reading of the saints, our living the liturgical year.

These can help us reach that even keel, that contemplation , that loving of others.

So maybe contemplation and go-go-go can walk together , in our vocations.


Kate said...

Wonderful words!! this is often my query!! I feel like I have split-personality disorder. I finally had to realize that God also calls on us to make a joyful noise unto Him. I think on King David dancing in the streets. I know that God absolutely knew what he was doing when he created as the person I am-- outgoing with great big chunks of hermit!! ;)
St. Teresa of Avila is my patron saint. I get into spiritual arguments with her. She once said that she wanted no conversation that distracted her from God. UGH! I wonder if she would even like me!! The Teresas in general are who I call on-- Teresa Benedicta ( my oldest daughter's patron saint) gets called on when I am in a scholarly questioning mood. Mother Teresa gets called on when I contemplate my life as a mother and the occasional spiritual darkness that creeps in when I fail more than succeed at raising my kids in virtue. Therese of Lisieux gets called on when I don't want to do something-- she asks me to pray for the worst and offer up my duties. Teresa of Avila? Well, I like to contemplate her when she was young and she wanted to be a martyr so went out to meet the Moors with her brother. That is the courageous rebel that I am. LOL
May God continue to bless you, my dear!! So grateful to have found you-- my sister in Jekyl and Hyde spirituality and love of God!!

Leonie said...

Oh, Darlene, I am with you. If St Teresa ( one of my favourite saints!) wanted no other conversation other than God, what would she think of my often inane conversation??

Happy New Year! et's keep up the conversation and thoughts...