I have a crazy two-year-old. Henry is able to open almost anything labeled “childproof,” can climb to any height in our house, and seems to find great joy in harassing his baby sister until she squeals. Being a stay at home mom of five young children does not lend itself to a peaceful, orderly, and contemplative way of life. While I’ve learned to find peace in the noise, order in the chaos, and contemplative moments in the piles of laundry, I still find my heart yearning for a moment of pause–a time to find myself in God again and return to my vocation refreshed and rejuvenated.
Mother’s Day weekend was just such a moment for me. Two-month-old Faith and I pushed the pause button and entered a world of serenity, joy, and a feeling of being constantly wrapped in the loving arms of God. The Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas hosted a Mother’s Retreat with guest presenters Kris McGregor and Teresa Monaghen. We prayed, attended Mass, heard inspiring stories, and enjoyed meals with other faithful women. I had time to focus on my relationship with God and with the newest member of my family. There wasn’t a television in sight, and the religious artwork and natural beauty displayed throughout the Center kept my head and my heart centered on God. I started to walk more slowly, speak more deliberately, and I soaked in the silence that allowed God’s voice to be heard.
Discernment was the theme of the retreat as we explored the Magnificent Mystery of Motherhood. Like our Blessed Mother Mary, we don’t have all the answers. We don’t always understand our children, our spouse, or why God allows our lives to evolve the way they do. Like Mary, we too must ponder these things in our hearts. It is in these moments of silent pondering that we become aware of the movement of the Holy Spirit. It is through the Holy Spirit that we are enlightened with the wisdom of what God wants from us in every moment of every day.
Once while St. Francis of Assisi was hoeing his garden, he was asked, “What would you do if you were suddenly to learn that you were to die at sunset today?” He replied, “I would finish hoeing my garden.”
Are you doing what God wills for you right now? Do you know what He wants you to do after reading this article? We must cultivate our awareness of the Holy Spirit through prayer, reflection, and moments of pause. I often find myself asking the Holy Spirit things like, “Do you want me to fold laundry or clean the bathroom now?” or “Does my four-year-old really need me to play a game with her right now or would she be receptive to a lesson in patience and responsibility while I finish the dishes?” Our many daily tasks can be so overwhelming, yet it is through the practice of managing them by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit that we are enabled to recognize the will of God when a big decision arises.
When we know that we are doing the will of God in any given moment, we will find the joy in our vocation. Indeed, this is the means by which all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit begin to manifest themselves in our character. Our stress levels will diminish as we rest in the peace of knowing we are truly doing the very best we can–that each day ends with knowing we accomplished God’s will for that day even if we didn’t check everything off of our list.
Being attentive to the Holy Spirit also allows us to embrace the elusive ability to truly live in the present moment. When my two-year-old falls off of his bike while I am trying to get some housework done, I am called to love, comfort, and soothe him until he is calm and confident enough to entertain himself again. My heart and mind are created to be fully devoted to him during that time–not anxious and distracted by the work that is unfinished. When a child is feeling deprived of our love, or an older child suddenly brings up a topic that needs to be discussed, we are called to drop everything and treat that moment as if it were our last moment on earth. Treat that moment as an opportunity to refocus our priorities and see Christ in the person who needs us.
Whether we are hoeing a garden or changing a diaper, we will rest in the peace of knowing we are ready to meet God during any moment of our day–ready to be enveloped in the grace of our Lord as He says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
For more information about the retreat center and presenters mentioned in this article, see: