A Musing Table: More than One Way to "Bear"

Hope everyone had a wonderful Shabbat and Sabbath. Been discerning my own....I really like keeping both Shabbat and the Sabbath, but the sad result has been that i kind of "halfways" keep both...and that has to change. So this weekend, at least the Sabbath was kept more in full. Praying that the rhythms will fall in place here however they should, becuase i sure still want to keep Shabbat-ness in this. Shabbat is just so precious, and Our Blessed Mother herself lit those Shabbat candles. Yet lately i've had to admit that when i try and "sabbath the whole weekend" in a sense by keeping both Shabbat and Sabbath, it just never seems to happen, both days get kind of "half kept". Anyway, discerning. And discerning some other things...

Krina linked to an article of artist Keri Smith's recently, one that kind of stirred something. It was an article about being a mother, and somehow reading it i was struck by some of the deep similarities there are between becoming a parent and obtaining a serious chronic illness/injury. Both turn your outer life upside down, as well as your inner life/perspective. With both, your mundane practical moment to moment life each and every day, well its never the same again. Ever. Its almost like you have become a different person suddenly. Sometimes your life before looks like somebody else's life really, its just so very unlike yours now. And both bearing and caring for a child, and bearing and caring for a chronic condition, involve both pain... and fruit. Both can be viewed as either a burden or a gift. Both are something you must care for, carry, tend to, watch over, respond to, love. Both are given by Our Creator. Both can be part of a spiritual path (that may sound strange, but just look at all the Saints who lived with serious chronic conditions, it was quite common). Most of all, both can wake one up to what is truly important in life.

This is a piece from Keri's mothering article. Definite parellel to those living with serious chronic pain/illness:

"...I thought I would feel more like I know what I am doing as a parent. it's like every other creative endeavor I've ever done...I'm just winging it most days, in a "let try this and see what happens". I always thought you would know exactly what to do.

...I have lost all sense of being (or attempting to be) graceful in this role. I never feel entirely put together physically. I've given up on getting somewhere on time.

...on some days my creative life has become a series of "doing whatever possible in the time allotted to get the job done". you know that game where the gophers pop their little fuzzy heads up out of a hole and you have to hit them as fast as you can with a large mallet before they pop back down again? It's like that.

...but then on other days there are moments of calm where a kind of routine sets in, and on those days i often feel like, "this is a piece of cake". my life and work feel seamless and doable, (and this happens fairly often if I am to be truthful). I want to have five more children and live in a big wonky house full of happy children with dogs and a pond and chickens, and maybe even a horse or two. And I will invite all of my friends who have children to come and swim in the pond and we will cook and laugh and drink wine together and I will be a kind of supermom. a mom powerhouse who can change 10 diapers at once, and calm a crying baby in seconds, a kind of amazing "baby whisperer" and people in the neighborhood will talk about me like I am some kind of baby god. and then usually the baby wakes up. and sometimes if he is screaming for a while I have found myself thinking, "How does anyone ever manage two of them?"

...i get into the most trouble when I am clinging to "needing" to get something done in the time frame that I want it to be done. It is a difficult shift to realize that you no longer call the shots. If I attempt to control how and when, I end up very frustrated. Even knowing this fact I still fight it constantly. It is strange to not be able to take a nap when I need one like I used to. You have no choice but to push through that fatigue. Most days i am lucky to get in two hours for my work, (and I am lucky to have a husband that works at home right now).

...something in my body feels more complete than I ever have before. complete in the sense that I feel a part of a family, there is a huge comfort in that for me. I feel connected to something very important. My life has a focal point now. I don't know how to explain it any better than that."

And that focal point, that wake up, can come from a child, but it can also come from living with a life changing sort of pain....when it deepens your spiritual life. And it sure can. Maybe becuase it wakes up your dependency so much that it practically "forces" you to turn to God. When you live with serious pain and limits, there is no longer the illusion of strength or independence, we must turn to Him. Longing merging with need, its a powerful thing.

Co-in-see-dance-ally, have been reading a 1940's novel that ended up going into this stuff in a way, its one i quoted a bit back too, called 'My Heart Shall Not Fear" by Josephine Lawrence. Turned out to be an amazing book, i'd definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good read. It begins by centering on a woman named Patience, who has just had her first child. It's turned her whole world upside down....in a good way, but also her fears about the future really zoom up. So family and friends come visting her in the hospital each sharing their wisdom on mothering, and life in general. One person is notably absent though, her sister-in-law Heather, who had a hospital stay recently too, though noone has been told why yet (it was for cancer). As Patience is learning to embrace her life as a parent, Heather on the other hand is going through a spiritual change of her own. In this qoute below, she is pondering the fact that she has never been blessed with a child (she was unable to bear a child, which used to mourn her deeply), and now even adoption looks hopeless becuase of her illness. And things unfold from there...

"An invalid couldn't hope to be allowed to adopt a child. Heather, hospitalized a few weeks before Patience expected to be confined (for her pregnancy), recognized the justice of that in the long night hours when she could not sleep. To her surprise she discovered that lassitude and indifference replaced her eagerness and the hunger in her dulled. Illness, she dimly realized, narrowed her world, and at the same time she understood the absorption that had subtly altered Patience in the months of her pregnancy. You cared less, somehow, and in caring less you also cared more. There were days in which no one existed for Heather or had claim on her love, except Ross (her husband).

"I would rather rest a little more, before i see people", she said when he brought her home from the hospital again and installed Mrs Warren as combination nurse and dragon (my insert: can't help but think of the very nurse-like St Martha in her role of dragonslayer).

But the strange indifference to the friends who had thronged the apartment in the three years of her marriage did not change. They wrote to her and sent her flowers--until they learned that she could not bear to have them in her room---and they called. Mrs. Warren met them, told them something kindly and firmly (Heather thought it did not matter what she said), and turned them away.

Tonight the knowledge that Ross had gone to St. Luke's to see Patience and the baby had directed the flow of Heather's thoughts towards her sister-in-law. Patience, she mused, had everything. A husband, a baby, youth and health--

"But i have more." Heather opened her eyes at the sound of her whisper. In the subdued light the narrow, orderly room seemed to recieve her as a traveler reteurned from a journey. How long had she been away?... She lay motionless, wrapped in a new, abiding peace. Patience had so much, but she, Heather, had gone farther and had learned what every woman would like to know and is afraid to discover: whether love is to fail her in her greatest need.

She knew now, beyond the shadow of any doubt, with the beautiful bright certainty of a fixed star, that nothing was ever to tarnish love for her or for Ross. Women could never be sure until some powerful test, merciliess and cruel and imposed without their consent, furnished the incontrovertible proof. The fortunate ones, like Heather Garrison, were ever after anointed and secure.

Rich and warm and sweet, the heavenly feeling that she had come out upon the mountaintop posessed Heather. ....

All women were afriad of the loss of love, Heather thought again. Men seldom understood, becuase they considered women possessive, when they were, in reality posessed. All the time and money and effort that women spent in training themselves to find substitutes for love were dust in the mouth and and ashes in the heart. Only, of course, young women growing up in a scientific age with their biological functions explained and their emotions decried, would make the discovery too late.

Perhaps, Heather reflected, God in his mercy devised pain as a crucible to help women select the true values for themsleves. No matter what learned professors thought about women's minds, their bodies could not be altered, although if you listened to the scientists you would not hear them admit this. Women, learning the limitations of their flesh, found for themselves the things that could not be destroyed.

Patience had begun to learn, and she, Heather, held the true answer in the hollow of her hand. The most fortunate women in the world were those who had come through great tribulation and could still believe in love"

Of course though, this is not only about the love of an earthly husband but also our Heavenly one as well : ) I just really love that qoute.

Well, Peaceful week all : ) ....

(Images from here and here)

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