catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 11, Num 14 :: 2012.07.06 — 2012.07.19


A chaotic simplicity

As a new mother I am trying to understand how it is that I might live a balanced life — the life in which I am a good, loyal, devoted mother and a strong independent woman simultaneously. To be honest, there are numerous moments within each day when I feel that I am failing at this pursuit.

When the day ends and I realize that the biggest accomplishment of the past 16 hours was the story I made up for my three-month-old about the peanut dinosaur, I sometimes want to and other times actually do proceed to cry. My existence seems so limited, my to-do list so mandatory, and my identity so un-important. While my husband and friends are finishing their master’s degrees, I am mastering the art of doing laundry.

These days are filled with thinking about the lists of goals and endeavors I created in what seems to me now a sort of past life, even as I hold in my arms an incredible new life that is entirely dependent upon me for his every need. I blush to think about how often my self-pity places me in a state of paralysis when it comes to living out a life-giving existence.

There was a moment during my pregnancy when I was talking to a friend of mine about whether or not I should take a job that would make me feel a strong sense of self-worth but would not allow me to spend time with my baby once he was born. In her consistent way of living out a gentle boldness, she told me that there was no way she could or should tell me the right thing to do. “But,” she said, “I know that whatever you decide to do, you will do it with all your heart.” I think part of what she meant was that she believed in me and my ability to live out the incredibly challenging quest of bringing glory to God, be it within the seemingly extraordinary or the seemingly mundane.

“Bringing glory to God” — what does that mean? Is trying to do so within every moment of my life a full enough existence for me? Up to this point, I am finding that it is a goal far more demanding and often more rewarding than I could have imagined. To live the simple existence of a mother caring for a child in a radical way in tune with the deep mystery, beauty and love surrounding my situation is not easy.

A few weeks ago I was encouraged and challenged by this thought from Thomas Merton:

In order to find God in ourselves, we must stop looking at ourselves, stop checking and verifying ourselves in the mirror of our own futility, and be content to be in Him and to do whatever He wills, according to our limitations, judging our acts not in the light of our own illusions, but in the light of His reality which is all around us in the things and people we live with.

“His reality is found in the things and people we live with.” The words resonated in my spirit as if they had been whispered to me at some point in my life almost without my knowing, and then they were stored away in some hidden place where the secrets of living this life well exist. I am not sure, but I wonder if perhaps my checklist is maturing with age. And it is not that I have given up on my goals from the past, it is just that I am trying to leave more space for the Spirit to work and allowing something far greater and better than what I could have orchestrated take place.

I return to the initial point of contemplation: how do I rest in the chaotic simplicity of these bizarre days in which “showering” has replaced “solving world hunger” on my to-do list? I do not think there is one simple, clear-cut, one-size-fits-all answer, though I often wish there were. Please do not get me wrong — I will be dreaming up Aurora Borealis sightings and adventures in far off lands with my baby strapped to my back. But for the time being, I will try to give everything I have in me to the people and places that are right here, right now, in this moment because these are the gifts that have been given to me. 

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