Yesterday was exhausting. It was exhausting for all of the usual reasons: caring for babies, making meals, doing laundry, and cleaning house. And it was exhausting for some more unusual reasons including but not limited to family illness that just will not go away and new part time work that may or may not be God’s latest cure for our financial ailments. Anyway, after dinner when the clock was ticking fast toward bedtime, I felt drained.
It was then that Juliette bounced up and down next to me on the couch and asked, “Can we go to the lake, Mama? Can we-Can we-Can we?”
I did not want to go to the lake. I wanted to lie down right where I was and fall asleep while my fairy godmother flew in to take care of baths, pajamas, toothbrushes, potty trips, and dozens of glasses of water. I really did not want to go to the lake. So I was shocked and horrified when I heard the sound of my own voice answering her weakly, “Okay. Get your suits on.”
What was I thinking? Was I trying to perfect some extreme form of motherly martyrdom? Had the paint stripper fumes killed off too many brain cells? I don’t know exactly what the reason, but twenty minutes later found me releasing a van load of kids at the beach and plodding along behind them with the baby and my chair.
We were the only ones there. The kids ran–splashing and laughing–into the water. The late sun hung low in the sky and the air was chilled with a hint of autumn’s imminent arrival. I sat in my chair and breathed the crisp air as I watched Kateri and Eamon swim to the raft and practice their dives. I watched the younger ones play catch in the water and fill buckets with sand. I held my sweet warm baby and relaxed.
It was the first time in many days that I was still and quiet for any length of time–even weekly Mass has been a hurried affair for me in recent weeks. But last night as I listened to the lapping of the water and the playful voices of my children, I basked in peaceful stillness and I finally felt God.
Sometimes, I realized, God waits for us to empty ourselves completely. And it is only then that He fills us with Himself.