Toddlers and the Spiritual Life

Toddlers and the Spiritual Life

This morning I cleaned the front windows in the living room, dusted the windowsill and everything on it. Then this afternoon since the cleaning supplies were out, I washed the sliding glass door. Wiped it until it was perfectly clear. I knew it wouldn’t last. Before I was even done, Sophie had slapped a peanut-buttery handprint on it, which I immediately wiped off.

Indeed right after I finished Bella woke up from her nap. And less than an hour after I finished I walked into the dining room to find Bella, spray bottle and rag in hand wiping streaks onto my nice clean door. She’d asked if she could help and so I furnished her with a simple bottle of water to spray things with. I’d even agreed she could wash the back door. But that was before her nap. Before I decided to clean the door myself.

“I’m cleaning the door for you, Mama,” Bella chirped cheerfully.

“Oh yes you are. Thank you so much. What a helper you are,” I replied not only calmly but happily as I watched her smear streaks across the glass. And then I moved on to the kitchen to start cooking dinner.

I recounted the story to Dom after the girls were in bed as we were putting away the dishes. He said, isn’t that just what we often do to God? Look at this wonderful rosary I said for you! And he’s thinking: Yeah, you fell asleep before you finished and you were distracted, your thoughts wandering all over the place. And yet he loves us and accepts our imperfect little offerings just as I do Bella’s

Yep. That’s what most of my prayer is. Streaky windows. But more often my spiritual life is actually a little closer to 18 month old Sophia than 3-year old Bella:

Sophie, do you have a poopy diaper? I ask her. No! she yells (her favorite word) and runs away. I chase her down and scoop her up, reeking to high heaven, and carry her to the changing table. She protests loudly as I clean her up, her poor bottom rubbed raw because she’s been stewing in the mess, refusing to be changed. She only stops complaining when the clean diaper is on and her pants restored and I’m lifting her down to go play once more.

Yeah, that’s about the size of it. I don’t want to go to confession! I yell and run away screaming. But you’re sitting in a pile of poop, he says calmly, Let me clean that up for you. You’ll feel much better. And of course I do feel better. Just as Sophie is much better off with a nice clean diaper. And yet again and again I find myself fleeing from the so very necessary soul cleansing that my loving Father offers. Again and again He chases me down, scoops me in His loving arms and doesn’t even complain that I reek to high heaven. Instead, he cleans me up.

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