Peace is a state of being
I read Susan Gaddis’s blog yesterday morning about formational reading and began to explore my thoughts about the devotional book I’ve been trying to get through for the last few weeks, “God’s Whisper in a Mother’s Chaos: Bringing Peace Home” by Keri Wyatt Kent. This is one of those excellent books that I could have written (I swear, I’m not trying to be prideful!), but it is so good to reread lessons that constantly struggle to remember.
First of all, I have to say that I was raised with a very idealized view of daily devotions (in our home, they were called quiet times). Mom would wake us up early so we could read our Bibles, pray and journal before breakfast. What started out as a daily chore in my childhood became essential to my morning in my teenage years. As my relationship with Jesus deepened, I enjoyed spending an hour or two in this time of intimacy every morning. My pattern changed a little after I got married, shortening as my home responsibilities grew. However, after the birth of my first child, quiet time was only a dream. I was so exhausted that any quiet time became sleep time, and when I did try to pray, I was usually fell asleep mid-prayer. For the longest time I felt so unspiritual, too enmeshed in the routines of family, home and school to spend the hours of contemplation with my heavenly Father that I had been accustomed to as a younger woman.
Two things happened early in my mothering career that made me realize that, although my quiet times with Jesus had changed, the time spent in His presence was no less significant. One was discovering the FlyLady, a home management system put together by a sweet, Southern Christian lady. In one of her essays, FlyLady Marla talks about how when she sticks with the same routine of cleaning her house every morning, her mind and heart are free to meditate on scripture and listen to God speak. That jarred me! I thought I had to sit in quiet contemplation to meditate and hear the voice of the Lord, but this lady was saying that in doing her daily chores, she was spending time with Jesus!
The second discovery for me was studying the “Ancrene Riwle” in my Medieval Literature class. This rule book was written for women who had devoted themselves to the church and cloistered life, becoming Ancoresses of the church (these women eventually became known as nuns). This crazy little book had a prayer for every single activity in the woman’s life, from the second she opened her eyes in the morning to when she fell asleep at night. Prayers for putting on socks and brushing hair, prayers for cooking and bathing and sweeping. Prayer was built into their daily chores!
I began to realize that I have always compartmentalized my life: mornings were my “spiritual” time, and then I would start real life. Sunday mornings, youth group and Bible study were spiritual parts of my week, but other gatherings were unspiritual. As the Lord continued to work on my heart, I began to realize that it is all spiritual because I carry the Holy Spirit in my heart as I go through my day.
So now I don’t worry when I don’t get to have my actual, structured quiet time in the day. Often, as soon as I wake up, at least one of my sweet children is needing to be fed, so my first activity is usually supervising the pouring of milk and Cheerios, closely followed by requests for cartoons, books or games (anything but getting dressed and ready for school!). But once the initial morning mayhem has settled down, I start into my routine: wiping down the bathroom, washing dishes, making beds, laundry, sweeping floors. I pray in the Spirit as I bless my home and family. Gratefulness fills my heart that I still have a warm bed to make, that I have food that dirties dishes, that I have happy children that track mud in (every. single. day). And I’m learning to maintain a state of peace within, even as my hands and body are busy. The things that God talks to me about in these mundane tasks are interesting and no less revelatory than they were when I had the time to sit in quiet contemplation.
I may be a busy wife and mother, but I am a spiritual giant. Chaos often surrounds me, but I am not shaken. I am the Anchoress of our home, maintaining the lifeline into Christ, our Solid Rock.