This is a new blog in which we, the office staff, would like to share some of our thoughts and meditations. We welcome your feedback, questions and comments!
Today`s post is by our receptionist, Oksana
I am a new mom. This is simultaneously the happiest and the most difficult time in my life. New motherhood brings you joys that you didn’t know existed. It gives you a glimpse at unbearably beautiful vulnerability of life.
But it also comes with nighttime feedings, unexplained crying that causes your brain to explode, and chronic exhaustion. Sometimes you are sitting in your living room (so much messier than you are comfortable tolerating), it's 3 am in the morning, you are rocking this tiny, surprisingly heavy little angel, your forearms turn numb, your eyes become heavy, and your whole body quietly aches. And as you are watching the hands of the clock slowly creep, and the morning (but not the release!) approach - your little one is sleepily, with those beautiful eyes almost closing - but stubbornly STAYING AWAKE. And you know that even when she does fall asleep - painstakingly slowly, taking close to an hour - in two hours she will wake up hungry again, and it's all over again. It seems endless -as if you will never get to your REM sleep, your house will never be clean again, and from now on your life will revolve around diapers and midnight feedings, devoid of any intellectual activity. And that’s when the spirit of despair descends on you.
But eventually morning arrives. Sooner or later you get to drink your steaming fragrant coffee as golden rays of Florida sun peek through the shades. Somehow for me it makes all the difference. Once again, I feel strong and confident. Repetitive feedings and changing of diapers become acts of love, done with easiness and pleasure, and somehow in between I find strength to even clean that living room and (oh heavenly pleasure) read that book.
In the middle of all of my new-found joys and anxieties I suddenly remembered about approaching Lent. Forty days of preparation and repentance before Easter are both challenge and opportunity to go “onward and upward” in our spiritual life. But we all know that transformation only happens when we approach the season of fasting with discipline and “give something up”. So I started rummaging through my daily life looking for things to give up. With amazement though I realized that I can’t really find anything, because it’s hard to give up things that you do not own. I don’t own my time - it belongs to the baby. I don’t really own my diet as a breastfeeding mother - it’s her diet. Everything we do now in our house revolves around the little bundle.
Then my mind went to the first Sorrowful Mystery. The image of Jesus praying in the garden is always accompanied in my mind with beautiful melody: “Stay with me, remain with me, watch and pray…”. I thought about Jesus’s loneliness and abandonment on the Mount of Olives, in the darkest of the night. Then my mind leaped to my own deep of night. I may not own much but I have my spirit of despair. I am forced to stay up, to remain. Isn’t this a beautiful opportunity to remain with Him, to watch and pray? I won’t probably pray long rosaries or read chapters of the Bible as I, half-conscious myself, rock my baby to sleep. But I can simply be with Jesus. I can offer Him my darkness, sharing in His. I can refuse my despair, refuse being sorry for myself and instead rejoice in the ability to remain with my child and ultimately - with the Lord.
I have no doubt there are some around me, in different stages of life that fail to find a typical thing to “give up”.Sometimes we feel so weak and so poor there seems to be nothing more to refuse. Many approach this Lent broken by health issues, or crippling debt, or loneliness and grief or betrayal. Others may seem happy and wholesome on the outside, but now and again they face their own darkness - their disillusionment, loss of dreams, struggle to believe, coldness of relationship, fear of sickness and death. We don’t know how to talk about these things, we wish we wouldn’t feel this way, wouldn’t be in this place.
Yet I have learned that those are the most fruitful moments for our soul. They reflect the true condition of our human life. Because in actuality we don’t own anything - neither time, nor talents, nor treasure. Everything we give, we are (as one eastern catholic prayer says) offering Him, His Own from His Own. Therefore with humility we learn to give not our riches but our poverty, not our strengths but our weaknesses. By the end of the day we only own our despair. But that's ok. Because God has everything. He can turn our weaknesses into strengths. He can make us generous precisely because of our poverty. He can make us loving through the experience of loneliness. God meets us in the lowest point of our life, where we are empty, weak and desperate. In this desert He makes us fully His. Just like the dawn breaks the darkness, He turns the spirit of despair into the spirit of hope. After all, this is precisely what the story of Resurrection is about - God’s victory over despair of human condition, victory over Death.