Saturday, September 30, 2017

Finding Silence

Painting by Eastman Johnson
One of the best advantages of motherhood is sitting up at night to nurse the baby.  It did take me years to realize this, so please hear me out before you write it off as crazy...

The house is quiet and everyone is finally sleeping, the light is dim.  I begin to drift off to sleep...  But the baby needs fed and comforted and I muster the energy to pick him up out of his bed, beginning to nurse.  He is calmed and it is once again silent, except for his adorable sucking.  The nighttime silence turns into meditation.

The tasks of tomorrow can wait.  The house is a disaster, the chores once again did not all get done.  There is probably laundry that needs put into the dryer.  But the baby is snuggled against me, basking in the calmness I provide.  I have so many memories- the best memories- of sitting up at night to nurse the baby.  The nursing mother produces oxytocin which causes calmness and sleepiness and endorphins which contribute to an overall sense of well-being.  These chemicals naturally cause bonding which reminds me of how my Mom and her friends used to say they felt guilty reading while they were nursing the baby!  Reading?  Really?  What about looking at screens or multi-tasking?  I am guilty of all.

But I should calm down for a few minutes and dwell in this silence of night.  I should bond with my child who God has made.  I should meditate on His goodness and the baby's innocence.  I should pray for my child who will one day be a man, that he will decide to serve God who made him.

Why do we not look for silence?  Why do we not love it?  Are our minds too burdened with problems that we do not wish to pray at all, we do not crave meditation?  I'm afraid I am guilty of this too.  I get caught up in the noise of modern life.  It is so loud that my guardian angel and conscience fade into obviation.

Silence is where we find God.  Anxiety and excitement are always the enemies of order in the soul.  Sometimes the craziness of life is inevitable, but often- usually- we inflict it upon ourselves.  We plan too many outings and activities, we watch too many shows, listen to loud music, read too many articles on the internet, maybe even read books excessively and indulge in endless chatter, we check our phones more than our children.  We are running around like crazy!  Our basic chores are not getting done and we spend the night too exhausted and stressed out to properly rest, pray and put our minds and souls in order for the following day.

So many women tell me of the anxiety and depression they feel as mothers.  They tell me of the overwhelming feelings of doubt and fear.  I cannot blame them for these feelings.  I am lucky to not have this particular cross.  But I am no stranger to the stress of modern life or small sufferings.  I have had moments of intense sickness from my thyroid disease.  I do believe that the disorder in everything- from diet and exercise, to family relationships and prayer- is a main contributor to mental and physical health problems.  So many things can overwhelm us!

But I take myself back to this moment of silence...the Christ Child was born on a night like this.  Our Lord continues to make Himself present on Altars around the world at the moment of the Consecration, proving that the greatest mysteries and torrential graces are hidden in the silence.  If only we have the sense to calm down and ask for them.

Too often our lives are too busy, too crazy.

We need to find silence.

"With the single exceptin of sin, anxiety is the greatest evil that can happen to the soul."
-St. Francis de Sales


What do you think?

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