It's funny how many things change once I got into Carmel. Climbing Mount Carmel seems very ordinary. I say some prayers. I go to some monthly meetings. I read the words of some interesting saints. The road is often hard, boring and repetitive. It's easy to think that I'm "not really getting anywhere."
Then I see how much my entire inner viewpoint has completely changed on something that previously was a major irritant. It's always a surprise like "oh, I've guess I have grown in my Faith walk after all!"
Silence is one big example.
I'm a natural socialite and the profound loneliness of stay-at-home motherhood really bothered me. I remember my buddy Conversion Diary Jen having a post lamenting the lack of social connection for stay-at-home mothers. Our lives seem so different from when our grandmother's stayed home in the 1950s. Back then there were hordes of neighbors to have a coffee klatch with at 10 AM. Now in many places in suburbia, a stay-at-home Mom might be the only person at home at 10 AM for entire city blocks.
I read that post and really though "Yeah, we should do something to get that old way back." I was constantly thinking the old way was better and we should "build bridges" and "reinvent community." In the past I've read so many great posts from all of you dear readers and thought "I wished that person lived close enough to invite over for ice-tea tomorrow!"
But now, instead of always thinking isolated Stay-at-Home mothers have it so rough--I'm starting to think that we're really blessed.
We have all this opportunity for SILENCE.
(And before you laugh out loud, let me assure you that Silence is a virtue that CAN co-exist with loud crabby teething babies and whiny eight year olds who complain bitterly that they've lost their favorite pony tail holder).
Silence is an "interior" virtue. I can be talking to all four of my children, at the same time that I have "silence in my heart." To me, at the very beginning stage of my formation, silence means
a) keeping my eyes on Christ and
b) being detached from worldly things and my own selfishness
So you see how stay-at-home motherhood is SO profoundly privileged as a place of spiritual growth for a Christian. I mean can you get a profession that has the potential to make you even LESS SELFISH? I mean, have you had a teething infant who needs to be carried next to your heart for an entire day? And is there anyone else you can serve where you can more easily imagine as the "Christ Child" than young children?
Silence means "humbling doing the tasks God wants us to do, and not listening to the competing viewpoints of the world."
Let me tell you, the world does NOT see stay-at-home mothers (or stay-at-home wives) as cool. We're lazy. We're parasites. We're wasting our "human potential" doing slop work that is better suited for a young au pair.
But all that time alone, cleaning up spilled chocolate milk and reapplying sunscreen, is time that we're NOT pleasing the world and we're NOT pleasing ourselves. Instead, it's the perfect time to get to know Christ.
He talks best to the silent heart.