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Funny How Things Work

May 5, 2014

DSC_0108It’s been a crazy week here in Lake Wobegon (not really Lake Wobegan…whenever I refer to a status of a week though, I feel the burning desire to call it Lake Wobegan).

Swim practice started last Monday.  For all you Northerner’s, I know that seems nuts, but let me point out that the day swim practice started our high temperature for the previous three days were in the 90’s.  Seriously.

Swim practice in and of itself is not a bad thing.  In fact, on good days, I find it rather enjoyable.  On said good days, we ride our bikes the half mile to the pool, I sit in a pool chair in the shade, and talk to friends and/or read while the kids have their turn at practice.  On good days, it’s kinda relaxing and makes a slightly slower pace.

There were only two good days this week.  Those other three days sufficiently negated them.  For two of the those days, we had baseball game/practice immediately after swim practice.  Curtis had to work late both of those nights.  One of the baseball nights we also had piano lessons.  On the third day, we had a soccer game we had to be at before swim practice was over.  Thankfully, Curtis could help that afternoon.  For me this meant lots of advanced organizing and planning.  Dinners were eaten in the car, at the swimming pool, at baseball games and not at all (in my case one night).

My nature, you may remember learning, leans heavily towards introversion.  When I read Quiet, I learned that my extreme dislike of being the taxi-driver-soccer-mom is part of my introversion.  Running from one place to the next constantly drains me of everything I may possibly have.  It sucks my soul dry.

Now contrary to what it may sound like, this is not my own personal whine fest and pity party, this is going somewhere positive.  I know a lot of moms and dads do the taxi- driver-soccer-mom stuff as well, it may be every bit as painful to them as it is to me.  Maybe they just hide it better.  Maybe they are just better people than me and can handle it with more grace, more calm, and aren’t left a withered clump of a mom.  It’s one of the hardest things of being a parent for me though.  Every year around this time, I wonder why, and in my head, decide no one is doing any sport besides neighborhood swim team ever again.

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…if you desire true and eternal life, “keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim” (Ps. 34:14-15).  Once you have done this, my “eyes will be upon you and my ears will listen for your prayers; and even before you ask me, I will say” to you:  “Here I am” (Isa. 58:9).  What is more delightful than this voice of the Holy One calling to us?  See how God’s love shows us the way of life.  Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see the Holy One “who has called us to the eternal presence” (I Thes. 2:12).

-From the Prologue of St. Benedict’s Rule (bold emphasis mine) as found in The Rule of Benedict by Joan Chittister

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Way back when in the middle of March, I read Micha Boyett’s Found.  In Found, Boyett writes about her return to prayer through St Benedict’s Rule.  For over a year, she wrote a blog, interacting with Benedict’s Rule as she encountered it.  I am not trying to do that.  However, also in Found, Boyett referenced The Rule of Benedict by Joan Chittister.

When I read that reference, I was off.  The rabbit crossed my path once again, and I chased it.  I reserved the book from the public library, read one day from it, and decided I need to buy it.  The Rule of Benedict had been on my Amazon wish list for years, and I finally hit the buy button thanks to Boyett’s book.  I promptly dove into the introduction and then set it aside.  The book’s format is in daily readings, starting Jan 1, May 2, and Sept 1.  After Easter, I decided.

May 1 happened to coincide with the fourth day of swim practice, right around the time I decided that I couldn’t do this.  My exhaustion caused me not to sleep well and consequently, I started being to hard on myself–feeling a failure because I didn’t thrive as a taxi-driver-soccer-mom.  As I sat down and read the first day (yes, I started on May 1 instead of May 2, because I figure it’s just a matter of time until I miss a day, and then I’ll be right on schedule!), a peace swept over me that I hadn’t known all week.  Oh yes, I thought.  There is more than all this.

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On Saturday morning, I was up with my early birds.  Since they’re all getting a lot more independent, I made my coffee and headed to the back porch with my Common Prayer, Bible, and The Rule of Benedict by Chittister.  I sat in the cool(ish) morning, listened to the the birds, watched for our owl, read, and prayed.  I breathed.  It’s when things get the craziness that I come back to something I read once–(I believe this is right, I could be making it up, but I’m pretty sure I read it somewhere)–in the Old Testament, the word for breath and Spirit were quite similar, if not the same.  As I took my deep breaths, being present in the beautiful morning, I remembered exactly why Spirit and breath are connected….without conscious thought, both can seem to be missing. Both are essential to life.

Agitation drives out consciousness of God.  When we’re driven by agitation, consumed by fretting, we become immersed in our own agenda, and it is always exaggerated.  We get caught up in things that, in the final analysis, simply don’t count, in things that pass away, in things that are concerned with living comfortably rather than with living well.  We go to pieces over crying children and broken machines and the length of stoplights at intersections.  We lose touch with center of things…

The call of this spirituality is to be gentle ourselves and bring nonviolence in our wake…

Benedictinism, on the other had, simply does not have as its goal either to beat the body down or to vanquish the world.  Benedictinism simply sets out to gentle a universe riddled with violence by being a peaceful voice for peace in a world that thinks that everything–international relations, child rearing, economic development, even everything in the spiritual life–is accomplished by force.

 pg 12, 13, The Rule of Benedict by Joan Chittister

That summed up my week pretty meal.  Accomplishing by force, going to pieces over little things that didn’t matter, immersed in my own agenda, and losing touch with the center of things.

The Spirit came though, in time of prayer, sitting still, and reading.  Once again, that rabbit I ended up chasing took me exactly where I needed to be.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2014 8:41 pm

    Oh my, I can sure relate to this! I marvel (but in a sorrowful way) at how completely exhausted I get by spending a morning, for example, away from home. I took the kids to the park to meet up with some friends a week or so ago and came home totally wiped out–not at all because the physical activity was strenuous (it wasn’t), but because the mental/emotional part of it required me to be out of myself, and that sucks the energy right out of me! I thought, “I am so tired that I’m just going to have to lie down and take a nap, but I could definitely get a lot more done in life if I didn’t get so exhausted by these types of outings!!” At those times, I don’t really like being an introvert.

    Also, you are correct that the word for breath and spirit is the same in Hebrew. It is “ruach,” which is, of course, properly written in Hebrew letters, not English; but I don’t know how to type Hebrew letters on this computer. 😉

    • May 6, 2014 9:22 am

      It’s definitely the time that being an introvert feels like a disadvantage (it’s really the only time I mind being introverted). Thanks for the Hebrew confirmation! I think the Hebrew words are so fascinating and it seems like so much of our Bible probably gets lost in translation (like ruach, amongst others). I love reading books that talks about Hebrew words and their meanings.

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