This is one of those days that I am struggling with my prayer time (again…..). So many distractions, my children each are demanding a piece of my thoughts, business concerns to resolve, so many things for me to do, lessons to prepare for my teaching load, an exam in my mastoral studies to study for, etc. etc. etc. All of a sudden I remember an article I wrote for the KAPATIRAN way back in 2001 that echoes these same concerns. The children were younger, my life, looking back, was simpler then … and yet my prayer time … well, I will share with you my insights way back then.
This is what I wrote in 2001: I’ve been sitting here in the living room for close to an hour and I can’t get into the mood for introspection, let alone a focus for prayer. It’s not that the children are noisy – they’re watching TV and the volume is reasonable, the words are muted from here. They have, however, one at a time, all come to me for one reason or another. Anton has a sore throat and wants to know what he can do to make it feel better. Nico lost an eyeglass screw and needs help with his emergency repair. Mia is asking whether I had seen the bag that she was just playing with last night. Marga wants to play in the grass and is looking for something to sit on so she won’t feel itchy. Tono has an asthmatic episode right now and is complaining that he’s not feeling any better from last night.
Not too long ago, I would have dismissed their approaches with a quick “later,” because I was at prayer and did not wish to be interrupted. Even considering that I’m struggling with my prayer time today, I’m mildly and pleasantly surprised at my reaction to my children as they come to me. I simply break off from my struggle to focus and address the need with a question or two to clarify, and then a gentle response or a short instruction. And after the child turns away, contentedly considering my comment, I even go off on a spin, dwelling more into the situation presented to me for a few moments, until I remember I am trying to pray and so redirect myself towards the effort.
It continues to be difficult, and I realize that today is one of those days. My children’s interruptions notwithstanding, I keep going off on tangents, thinking about the plans we have for the day, the list of errands I prepared last night, the talk I want to have with our cook, the menu I am planning for Wednesday’s meeting and so on and so forth.
My failure to focus saddens me somewhat, and I am about to dwell on this feeling, when a sudden thought occurs. What if God, already knowing everything that’s in my heart and mind, doesn’t want to listen to me this morning, wanting to just speak to me instead? What if He’s telling me something already, through my distractions? Isolated – and yet connected – phrases come to my mind – sanctity of the ordinary, holiness in the routine, divinity in the workday.
Now, that’s interesting. In my prayer time, I freely switch my prayer methods, using Bible reflections, contemplative prayer, journal writing or other means to bring my thoughts and feelings before the Lord. But almost always, I now realize, I hold control, playing time manager and agenda master. Well, perhaps this morning the Lord has decided to take charge of things from the very start, and rightly so. No wonder the day’s readings held no treasure for me. That’s why no words would come from mouth nor mind nor pen.
And yet, now I am led to Paul’s address to the Ephesians (4:1), “Therefore I, the prisoner of Christ, invite you to live the vocation you have received…” and I experience an “eureka moment”. Indeed, this is God’s call for me today – He invites me to immerse myself in my life!
Being a Sunday, we will all be together today, whether we go somewhere or just stay home. What a splendid chance to love and share and just touch base with each other! I will have considerable time on my hands, I can use that to restore, to maintain, to build up our home – physically as well as metaphorically. I have two sons who are not in tip-top shape today. I will treat them with favorite snacks and gentle ministrations. My girls, who are still at that stage of following me around whenever I’m home, will be at it again today. We shall have intimate conversations and shared activities to make it worth our whiles. And Nico, oh, let me just behold him today, lingering with him before he flies off to be the teenager he almost is!
There are so many opportunities before me today, and as I assume the roles of healer and helper, partner and playmate, I will take them. The Lord speaks, and as I realize what He is saying to me, I understand. And yes, I will obey. And I know it will be a wonderful day!
Back to the present. The Lord’s message resounds loud and clear to me today, too, a much needed reminder. He tells me that sometimes in my prayer time I try too hard, that I should enjoy the life that He has blessed me with. Yes, Lord, I hear you. Now I will go immerse myself in my life!