A lot of people have been great about checking in with me and asking me: “How are things going?” My answer has often been: “It is what it is.”
I won’t glamorize the realities of these past few weeks. Between my recovery and being house-bound for yet another six-week period with two very active toddlers and a newborn, there have definitely been moments and even entire days when it has felt overwhelming at best. Like yesterday when I was breading chicken, feeding Elijah and figuring out how to turn the smoke alarm off with a broom handle all at the same time.
It is what it is.
That said, I have also been on the receiving end of great care and companionship from friends who continue to give their time and help to our family and there have been a good number of days that have been quite fun. Mercy and Aaron have banded together in a new way in their little friendship, and they both completely adore Elijah. Overall, I will be quick to say that life is very good.
The impact of these early years of motherhood on the practice of one’s spirituality cannot be overestimated. I was just telling a good friend on Monday night that basically everything I have always relied upon for my spiritual growth and well-being has been, in some way or for some amount of time, taken away from me these last few years. Spiritual retreats, silence and meditation, scripture reading and study, contemplative prayer: these are not the markers of my every day. I have learned instead that my portion is now a rugged, earthy spirituality that is situated amidst dirty diapers, dishes, Cinderella dolls and sippy cups; it is the Brother Lawrence life (minus the monastery and set in South Central) and I have not always known how to embrace it.
Last night I received a distressing phone call from my parents alerting me to an urgent need for prayer for healing for a little one who is precious to us. It was the kind of phone call that should be responded to by dropping to one’s knees and crying out to God. But I had a tired infant who needed to be held and walked and soothed to sleep. Elijah loves it when whoever holds him sings. And so in place of prayers I could not speak, I sang the words to a worship song that the sick baby’s grandparents taught me when I was a young child. In the moment, that was the best I could do to connect my spirit with theirs and with God while doing what I needed to do to soothe my own baby in my arms.
“Make me a servant,
humble and meek,
Lord let me lift up those who are weak,
and may the prayer of my heart always be,
make me a servant,
make me a servant,
make me a servant, today.”
As I sang this simple song over and over, my spirit somehow interceded, wordlessly, on behalf of little Matthew. It is not how I would have chosen to pray for him, and yet as I paced the living room singing, I felt a deep and beautiful sense of prayerful communion between me, my dear friends, a very sick baby, and my own little one and the God who is near to us all.
My spirituality is not what it used to be. But it is what it is. And I am learning that that is okay.