Feasting in the Desert

Feasting in the Desert

I’ve been going through a rough patch in recent weeks. Not any one thing I can put my finger on—except the screaming two year old who won’t sleep—but a general weariness and anxiety and a longing for a peace and a quiet which I can’t seem to find.

Oh the boys seem determined to tag-team me. Anthony finally got to the point where he is mostly night-weaned and has been sleeping very well for the past couple of weeks. There have been more nights with no wake ups than nights with wake ups. But at the same time Ben got worse and worse and worse. Every single night either fussing for hours at bedtime or waking up in the middle of the night screaming for hours. Then Ben finally had two good nights in a row and wouldn’t you know it but Anthony is cutting about half a dozen teeth—all of his canines and bicuspids at once!—and is refusing most solid foods and wants to nurse every hour or so all day and night! Right now I’m having a hard time believing that this too shall pass and consolations seem too few to sustain me. I suppose this is the real Lent coming into focus. It seems almost silly as I write it out, so many wee small little crosses and yet I can hardly bear it.

I have been feeling like I’m starving spiritually.  I have no more to give because I am not being fed myself. So following the advice of both my confessor and spiritual director I have embarked on a new plan. I am prioritizing daily mass one morning a week, treating it as I would going to a doctor’s appointment. A non-negotiable for my spiritual health. Also adoration one night a week after the kids are all in bed. I can’t put my own needs on the back burner any more. I need to spend time, quiet time with Jesus. With no distractions and no demands. I need some time, just a little time, in which I’m not being Mommy but just being Melanie.

I began this week, going to Mass on Tuesday morning while my sister watched all four kids. After Mass I lingered and said Morning Prayer in the quiet church. It wasn’t a magic cure-all; but I did feel more charged the rest of the day. I had some resources to spend.

Then last night after I got all the kids in bed, I slipped out to go to adoration at a church that is about fifteen minutes away. (Somehow I thought it was much farther away and I was quite surprised at how fast I got there.) I got there at about a quarter to ten and stayed for an hour. I listened to Evening Prayer on the way there and to Compline on the way home.

Again, not a magic pill that made everything better. And yet…  I got home at about 11. By the time I was out of the shower Anthony was screaming. I gave him some ibuprofen and oragel (He said “Oragel” yesterday when I asked if he wanted some!) and then nursed him. As tired as I was, I couldn’t fall asleep while he was nursing for he was so restless and kicking and grabbing at me and at my clothes. Finally after about an hour of that Anthony was done nursing but not sleepy at all. He screamed and screamed and screamed. Eventually Ben woke up and Dom went to get him but Ben only wanted me. I tried to bring Ben into the bed with us and Ben was fine, he cuddled up next to me quite calmly. But Anthony was having none of it. He continued to scream. Dom got up and went to the bathroom and a minute later Ben got up too and wandered out with his blankets. I figured he’d got tired of the screaming and was going to sleep on the couch. Then Anthony crawled off the bed and followed Ben down the hall. I was too tired to even follow them. I just sat there until Dom came back and then told him what had happened. Both boys ate some Cheerios, Ben insisting that the dining room lights had to be turned on, which I knew would only wake them up more.  While they were still eating Sophie woke up screaming. She couldn’t articulate what she wanted. I think she was disoriented and confused by her brothers both being up and eating breakfast. I broke down and began sobbing as I tried to put a reluctant Sophie back into her bed; but finally she consented to let me tuck her in. Then we fed the boys Cheerios and ham until they were both stuffed. Dom kept cracking jokes and I was laughing instead of crying as Anthony toddled around and downed copious amounts of ham. Ben was tucked back into his bed and Anthony nursed down to sleep until he woke again at 5:30.

So I was tired and a little cranky today after the long night. I still lost my temper a few times. And yet under the tossing tempests there was a calm place that wasn’t touched by the storms, a refuge that wasn’t there before. If I closed my eyes I could see that dark chapel and the gleaming monstrance. I could feel the quiet. There was a tabernacle in my heart and a Guest who waited there and I could feel His Presence.

This is not at all where I expected my Lenten journey to lead me. What a delightful surprise. Instead of a fast I found a feast, the food my soul has been yearning for.

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