For Modern Day Moms

Monks and Mothers

Published a few months ago in Blog - 0 Comments

What can a mother in 2017 possibly have in common with a Carmelite monk from the 17th century?

When I read about the life of Brother Lawrence, who wrote the classic spiritual letters on the practice of the presence of God, it sounds like a dreamy vacation. A monk’s life probably wouldn’t appeal to most people, but life as a mother of four children has turned solitude and silence into a far-fetched dream… of the level of desire usually reserved for forbidden fruit.

And yet.

I believe so strongly that Brother Lawrence shares something in common with my life, something important, that I wrote an entire book about it. While raising four children. This is what I decided to use my preciously hoarded “margin” for!

The answer isn’t a treasure I’m going to keep to myself. It is simply this:

When he entered the monastery, the man who became Brother Lawrence expected a life devoted fully to God would be a life filled with the joy of God’s presence. He was disappointed. He didn’t feel it.

THERE is something every mom I know can relate to, to some extent or another.

This is good news for us. If experiencing the presence of God required the rigors and schedule of a monastic life, every mom on the planet would be out of luck.

Where did Brother Lawrence find what he was seeking so desperately for?

In the kitchen.

Washing dishes as part of his tedious, assigned duties.

Full Stop.

The monk experienced God at the kitchen sink. (And it probably wasn’t even one of those gorgeous sinks Joanna Gaines uses in Fixer Upper).

Sigh of relief!

In contrast, I was watching a documentary of Buddha’s life the other day (well, the recorded Wild Kratts episode had ended after the kids left for violin lessons, and the TV happened to switch to the documentary while I was doing laundry).

My understanding is that to become the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama spent years first living in devotion to sensate experience, found it didn’t give him the enlightenment he sought, and then spent years living as a devoted aesthetic, starving his body to gain control of his mind. This also failed him, but the journey led him to a moment in time where the world became clear and he reached spiritual enlightenment.

What if God required us to travel such a path to reach His presence? There would be no place for mothers on this road to enlightenment. We cannot at the same time feed the toddler, keep the preschooler safe, change the baby, and sit under a tree meditating for days.

God who gives us life and grants us the blessing of babies would not at the same time exclude us from knowing His full presence. Seek Him with your whole heart, and you will find Him. {Jeremiah 29:13}

He is much closer than we think. We can know Him right where we are.

That’s the sum of Brother Lawrence’s teachings, and if it brings hope into your day, then I am well-satisfied with how I’ve spent my “margin.”

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