Friday, 27 August 2010
Feast of St Monica
Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Amongst others, St Monica is the patron saint of abuse victims; difficult marriages; disappointing children; mothers; victims of unfaithfulness; victims of verbal abuse and widows.
In other words, I suppose, the patron saint of those who refuse to give up even when love is not lovely; who know how suffering and love can exist in the same breath and who actually do believe that love will conquer all. And the fact that it took Monica so many years of prayer and tears gives comfort to those whose love is driven by perseverance and hope.
The readings for today are all about this maternal and wifely devotion; some of the images having me feeling distinctly way down the 'good wife and mother' scale. But I am not just a wife and mother; I am also a grandmother and this evening I sat during the service with my 'nearly two years old' granddaughter fast asleep in my lap; her usually super-energised body heavy and warm against my chest; curls flopped over her eyes; bottom lip turned out in a pout; absolutely beautiful.
And I heard this line from the psalm - and I heard, particularly 'weaned'.
Like her own mother, my granddaughter was breastfed, which means a relationship where the very life of the child depends on just one person; even a few hours apart puts her and the mother in distress. The emotional umbilical cord remains intact, creating real physical discomfort. Two are, in all realities, still one; like ourselves when we live in integrity with who we are; with ourselves, with God.
But we grow; and we grow- one becomes two; independence is the aim and weaning is the first step. Because a weaned child is a child not longer dependent on her mother. A weaned child simply needs someone to provide nourishment and care. ~And if you are like my confident, outgoing, daredevil of child -it doesn't really matter who or where that food and care comes from. And that, of course, can be tempting, exciting and bad for our health. God also doesn't tie us with apronstrings; growing up spiritually means making our own decisions about what feeds us, nutures us which also can be tempting, exciting and bad for our spirit.
But we do not live on bread alone and when a weaned child needs a place to sleep, to be comforted, to be held securely, when she becomes frantic with 'over-tiredness' or 'too-muchness' she will return to a more instinctive nature; where is the love? Where is the connection; where is the relationship? In a room full of people, only one or two will do; and it is her choice. And it is amazing how great a privilege it feels when you are the chosen.
And this is how God is with us. It may seem one-sided that we come to times in our lives when we realise that only God will do; only His arms are strong enough; only His hands can give comfort; only His voice takes away the pain. But no, to give yourself into God's arms because that is where you want to be; to trust in God because that is your choice; to rest in God because God is Love, gives God that same sense of privilege; of delight in welcome; of being the Chosen.
When we choose God, our soul is calmed and quietened.