Monday, November 4, 2013

The Contemplative Mother

St. Anne and the Virgin Mary

I have at times half joked that if my husband ever died, I wouldn't remarry. I'd become a nun. The funny thing is, I wasn't Catholic at the time! I still don't think I would become a nun, because of the hours they keep (very early risers, prayers in the middle of the night) and the wardrobe. Of course I would do it if God called me to it, but he would have to call really, really loudly.

When most people think of contemplatives, they imagine a cloistered religious life. Having read Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics by Marsha Sinetar, I know that one can receive a similar calling without being a monk or a nun, or even a hermit. Married women raising children, such as myself, can have mystical experiences and be drawn to a sacred silence and solitude. If I am being called to a contemplative vocation within my marital vocation, a lot of things would make sense. Experiences like spiritual restlessness, dark nights of the soul, a desire to withdraw from the world, a highly developed empathic sense, and sensitivity to Beauty. I think that this blog came into being as a result of a deep need for contemplation combined with the calling to write.

For about nine years before I got married, I lived by myself in the same apartment. I spent hours journaling and writing poetry, and reading spiritual books. I always worked, and I kept thinking that I just had to find the right career in order to feel fulfilled, and for everything to fall into place. I knew that there was something that I was created to do. Unfortunately, it can take a long time to earn a living as a writer, if it ever happens. At the age of 30 I went back to school and became an esthetician. I finally had the lucrative career I wanted, making more money than I needed and using many creative skills. Then I got married at 33, had my baby at 35, and became a Mother. This has been my highest calling so far.

The urge to simplify life as a wife and mother, to live organically and authentically, and to find deeper meaning in everyday routines has underpinned our goal as a family to live life by our own lights. Every small choice contributes to a more abundant life: not having television; being vegetarian; eating locally grown and organic food, and growing some of our own; learning to bake bread and pizza dough; homeschooling; having only one (very small) car; buying much of our clothing from thrift stores; using safe, natural personal care products; recycling and composting, etc... What if all of these things are directly related to my being undeniably drawn toward contemplation? I always felt most like myself when I was reading those spiritual books, journaling, and creating religious ritual.

Today I once again unsubscribed to various websites, blogs, and advertisements. I simply can't keep up with reading everything in my inbox. I am even considering deactivating my FB account, or at least hiding it. I find myself spending too much time wrapped up in group conversations with people I don't personally know. While there are blessings to be found in belonging to an online group of people with shared lifestyles and interests, I want to concentrate more of my time on my own family and friends, and keeping in touch with people via the telephone (not texting, but actually talking) and letter writing. It is crazy to imagine that some day soon younger people will no longer be able to read and write in cursive, so it will be like a secret code!

My joie de vivre project certainly stemmed from this longing for the contemplative life, and I want to re-concentrate my efforts in that direction, being brutal in cutting out all nonessential elements in my daily round, not just in my wardrobe. For now I am contemplating of what the married contemplative life would consist for me and how I will order my days in light of that spiritual focus.

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