Yesterday I mentioned Scot Sherman’s sermon from this past Sunday. One of the stories he told in that sermon was about a man he had encountered who, in becoming serious about his faith, discovered Thomas Merton’s idea that prayer and contemplation should be something we practice at “dawn, day, dusk and dark.”
I’ve had that on my mind this week as I’ve thought about what it means to be at peace with the ways I can’t pray at this point in my life. I met with my spiritual director yesterday who reminded me that we have different tools for various seasons of our lives. I had been filling her on my attempt to gather baby gear via Craigslist (we left the big bulky stuff in Philadelphia when we moved). I had mentioned how big and cumbersome the baby jumper thing is but how essential it seems for the few months that a baby can fit in it. When August was between the ages of 4 months and 9, that jumper was the only way I could get dinner made every night. It was vital, for a while, and then he grew too big for it.
After a long conversation with Debby about the state of my soul, my exhaustion, my longing for meaningful communion with God, she reminded me about that jumper. She reminded me that even though I had a wonderful, meaningful prayer life that looked a specific way before I had children, that doesn’t mean I’m a failure until I get that prayer life back. In fact, it’s the opposite. God used that form in my life and now I’ve moved out of it. It was good, but I don’t fit in it anymore. It’s time to relearn how to pray. And this time, I should be learning as a 31 year old mother, who may have woken up early enough to pray yesterday, but whose son also woke up that early.
Debby had me stop part way through our time together and thank God for each and every thing in my life that I’ve been afraid is making me fail at following Jesus. I thanked him for my exhaustion, for my snooze button, for the fact that if I were succeeding in the sort of prayer life I want for myself, I would probably be viewing prayer as something I can check off every day. I’d be missing out on Jesus.
So, there’s Thomas Merton and his four D’s of contemplation. And there’s me. I’m not going to have the hour of prayer time that I once had. In fact, I began this blog because I knew and longed for the opportunity to re-learn prayer through the process of motherhood. In some ways I’m in the same place as I was a year ago contemplating this idea and feeling like a failure. In other ways, I’m so much more aware of my need than I was a year ago.
So, back to simplicity:
I want to pray four times a day. I want to pray grateful prayers, restful prayers. I want to remember that God is good and I want to experience him in that goodness. I don’t need to succeed in anything. I simply need to let my soul show up. Join me?