Today was busy in a good way. I spent the entire day with my husband and daughter. We ran some errands in the city, stopped and had a pizza together and filled our growlers with beer and St. Arnold's root beer. As much as I enjoy these times, it gets a little much for an introvert to be talking and guiding someone all day. By late afternoon I was exhausted and wishing for some down time. I took Lillian outside to walk around and carried my rosary in the other hand. My petition was for the grace to be a gentle parent and wife, and the wisdom to know how to parent this particular child. I've been fighting hard to keep from becoming irritated and bitter, but I always need more grace to flee from that temptation.
The little hearts I've been seeing everywhere? This past week I felt as though I finally understood that they are reminders to serve my family with love and gentleness. I find them in the most mundane places. Several days ago I got up early and made some biscuits. I rolled out the dough, cut them out and put them in the oven. There was a sliver of dough left which I haphazardly threw back onto my floured board as I turned away to keep Lillian from doing something naughty or snap at Oliver because he seemingly isn't helping enough. Suddenly I turned back around and glanced at my sliver of dough through the corner of my eye. It had landed in the shape of a heart. Gentleness, and dare I say, mercy: I need them.
These are my reflections as I prayed the joyful mysteries of the rosary for gentleness and wisdom as I walked around my yard with my stumbling one year old.
1. Annunciation. My thoughts focused on Mary in the way that she accepted God's will and did not brood and fret over every detail about how he will accomplish his will in her life. That's what I would do. I think it's in my melancholic temperament when stressed to feel as though the walls are closing in and suddenly everything becomes about me. It's a battle I fight against quite frequently. But Mary? Amid poverty and sorrow, I can't help but think she took things as they came and leaned heavily on God.
2. Visitation. This mystery is laid on my heart heavily at the moment because I'm in the midst of renewing my consecration to Jesus through Mary on the feast of the Visitation, May 31. I thought about how Mary didn't think about her own troubles, being unmarried and pregnant. Facing the scrutiny of her betrothed who would think she was an adulteress. Facing shame being in the community. She didn't think of herself, only about how she could be of service to her cousin Elizabeth. She received Jesus, and then immediately went to serve. Me? See my struggle with self-centeredness above.
3. Nativity. I totally missed this mystery because I was trying to keep the toddler from stepping in some water outside. I missed the Our Father knot and thought I was still in the mystery of the Visitation. My bad.
4. Presentation. I thought about how Mary and Joseph offered Jesus back to God regardless of the sorrow foretold to them. It made me think of the way I handle Lillian, that I should be careful not to think of her as "mine", jealously guarding her from experiences or keeping her from becoming the woman that God wants her to be. I need to remember that she is always his, I already have given her to God in prayer. I can't guide her to be like me, but into His image.
5. Finding the Boy Jesus. Jesus seemed to exasperate his parents here. I thought about the way that He was his own person with his own destiny in life, and the way that Lillian will be the same way. My goal is to do my best to teach her virtue and to understand the faith. If she uses her free will to do something that I disapprove of I need to keep from reacting in anger, but only keep her in my love.