Last time, we took a look at the difference a morning offering can make in the effort to bring peace to our homes and our hearts. When we offer the day to God, His grace is sufficient for whatever the day holds. Our successes are gifts to Him and our “failures” are made valuable by Him.
I pray my morning offering the first time I nurse my infant in the morning. While a new baby can often cause chaos in a household (and mine sometimes seems to), this time, I’ve pegged my plan for interior peace to the indisputable items on the baby’s schedule: her feeding times. Since she’s still really little, there are many of these times and they lend themselves well to the spiritual practices crucial to interior peace.
The second time Sarah Anne wants to nurse, I settle in with a good book or some other source of spiritual reading. I say a quick prayer to put myself in the presence of God and to ask my guardian angel and patron saints to intercede on my behalf. I want this time to bear fruit in my life and to bring grace to my soul.
I read for a brief time, 10 or 15 minutes, just long enough to find a thought that is worth pondering. I read that thought slowly, usually more than once or twice, and I sincerely ask God what He would have me take from it. Then, I listen.
Listening is often the most difficult part. Listening requires stillness. While I understand that I might be interrupted during this meditation time, I do try to prevent that. I tell my other children that I need 15 minutes of quiet time and I make sure that the phone won’t call for my attention.
Moms of many will recognize the oft-told story of Susanna Wesley, the mother of 15 children, who threw her apron over head when she needed some time with God. Her children knew and understood this sign. It’s helpful to have a sign, whether it’s an apron or a lit candle, and to spend some time training children to respect that sign. As they get older, they can use the same time for spiritual reading and meditation.
After listening, I make a resolution. And then, I write it down. Usually, I write down the passage that led me to the resolution, too. It’s helpful to me to have a little notebook to which I can refer.
I can’t count the number of times during the day I’ve completely forgotten the passage or the resolution or both. My day is full of little details that I try to hold in my brain; this detail is so important that I entrust it to pen and paper, lest my brain fail me. The little notebook becomes a prayer journal. I end my meditation time with a sincere plea for the grace and strength I need to keep my resolution if it is indeed the will of God.
The next day, I might read something new, or I might just spend my meditation time with the same passage and resolution. What matters is not how many spiritual books I read, but how closely I listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit. Prayer is as simple as it is mysterious.
Remember, my experiment since the baby was born is to take the fruitful prayer life of bedrest and total inactivity before birth and to see if the order that brought to my soul then can spill into my active life now. Sometimes I have to remind myself that taking time away from my active responsibilities will actually improve my productivity.
So far, the truth holds. Meditation and spiritual reading take less than half an hour a day. That half hour is an investment in my soul. Without the interior peace and direction that meditation brings, there is chaos and aimless drifting. With it, there is relative peace and purpose. It’s not perfect and praying in the morning doesn’t fold my laundry for me, but it does significantly help me to harness my will and to bring the grace and strength that are God’s freely given gifts to the tasks of my vocation.