Last Friday at noon, I finally accomplished the unthinkable: I sat with Jesus for an hour at Adoration.
Now, it wasn’t the peaceful hour I’d hoped for. I’d envisioned that my one-year-old daughter, who had to accompany me, would take her nap during that hour. That I would be able to hold my sleeping baby girl in my arms as I gazed at Jesus and did nothing but contemplate him. That, as sometimes happened at visits I made to Adoration before I had children, I would feel graces pour upon me in that hour.
Maybe grace did fall upon me, but if so, I surely didn’t have a chance to feel it. Because my daughter didn’t sleep. At all. Despite being tired, and despite it being her normal naptime, she stayed awake. Wide awake. And I entered the chapel wide-eyed myself. Only my wide eyes were from fear. Instead of contemplating thoughts of our Lord, I contemplated a more pressing thought at that moment: How would we get through this hour?
Maybe you’re wondering why I decided we had to stay a full hour. Couldn’t I have put less pressure on myself? Commit to staying only as long as my daughter could last? Jesus would understand, after all, if I had to exit the room with a screaming toddler in tow.
What led up to that moment of entering the chapel was another unthinkable act I’d done a few days prior. In making a move toward Perpetual Adoration, my parish increased its hours of Eucharistic Adoration and was looking for people to help out by dedicating an hour each week to sit with the Lord. When I saw the notice in the bulletin, I felt called. Ludicrously (since I’d have to take my daughter with me), I called the parish and committed myself to an entire hour…every week.
“How will you do it?” family members asked. My mother offered to send my dad to relieve me for the second half hour. I thought, however, of my sister-in-law, who has five kids and who, with her husband, has towed all of them to an hour of Adoration on more than one occasion.
“I can do this,” I answered those concerned. After all, if other moms could do it with half a dozen kids, I surely could do it with one.
So, as I approached the chapel with a wide-awake toddler, I prayed, “Dear Jesus, I want lots of people to spend time with you in the Blessed Sacrament, but, umm, today, could it just be me? Please?” I was sure he’d be so grateful for my commitment to be with him, that he’d answer my prayer.
And then I opened the door to a room full of adorers. People kneeling in deep, silent prayer. People sitting quietly, reading. And me, pushing in a stroller full of books and dolls and coloring pages and markers, and one eager, bright-eyed (and potentially loud) little girl.
I took a deep breath and pushed forward, making my way to the back corner of the room, where I could unload my daughter onto the floor with a slew of items I hoped would keep her quietly entertained for an entire sixty minutes.
The amazing thing is that though my request for an empty room wasn’t granted, another, unspoken prayer was. My daughter was good. Really good. Sure, I had to color with her (so much for cracking open my copy of Divine Intimacy), and silently play dolls with her, and show her pictures in books, and fill her with food and drinks when she began to get noisy, but we did it. We lasted our full hour until the next committed adorer arrived.
My pride in making it through, however, waned when an hour after arriving I packed up and looked around the room. People were still kneeling in silence. They were still reading. They were still sitting, engaged in silent conversation with our Lord.
I’m sorry, I silently told Jesus on my way out. I came to be with you but spent the entire time engaged with my daughter. Did this do any good?
See, in my plan, this was a time to draw closer to my Savior. In my plan, I would do all the things that my busy life as a mom didn’t allow me to do. I would read books I had chosen to bring along, books that would inspire me in my faith. I would talk to Jesus about all sorts of things that had been on my mind. I would pray a rosary, or at least a decade. I would do so much to show Jesus just how much I love him because, often, in the busy-ness of life, I feel like I don’t get to prove that to him. And I would be able to do this because, in my plan, my daughter would nap and I would make the time fruitful.
Instead, I did none of that. The thought crossed my mind that once again I’d neglected to really make strides in my relationship with Christ.
But then another thought came to me. You did nurture this relationship. After all, though I didn’t busy myself with doing for Jesus, I did busy myself with being in his real presence. And in his presence, I busied myself with caring for the child he gifted me. He did tell us to “let the little ones come to” him, which I assuredly did that day (Mt 19:14).
I thought, too, about the fact that Jesus longs to be intimate with us, even more intimate than we are with our spouse and children. And some of the most intimate moments in my relationship with my husband occur when we don’t talk. When we just exist together, side by side, living our daily lives. When doing things like playing with our children, cleaning the house, or cooking dinner beside each other. There’s a comfort in being at a point in a relationship where you don’t have to talk, where you can just be content existing in the same space.
And if our familial relationships are meant to image our relationship with God, then surely being directly in Jesus’ presence was enough to draw us closer. A shared experience of witnessing the beauty of my daughter playing, coloring and, at times, looking up at the monstrance and gleefully saying, “Jee-suh!”
And perhaps there existed the greatest fruit of my hour with Christ: that I’d exposed my daughter to her exposed Lord. Right there in the middle of her mess. The way he wants us all to come to him.
Image courtesy of catholicireland.net