Friday, November 6, 2009

A Mother's Rule of Life

 I wrote this poem after my two friends each recently gave birth to their fourth babies.

I.                   The Mother’s Vocation.

A Rule of Life,
For the mother who wants to see
Her acts of love as vocation,
Not merely duty.

A mother's life may resemble the monk’s.
Bells call for prayer, stops
All kneel to pray.
Babies cry for feeding, stops
All--the hot shower,
Dinner on the stove,
Rocking to soothe.

Ora et Labora,
A good monk once said.
This the mother lives.
Diapers, laundry, dishes
The litany begins again each day
Same as the one before.
Tasks menial are good work.
Work that brings order, warmth, comfort, home.
       Call this lowly. Call this humble.
The mind which was also in Christ Jesus,
Poured out, taking the form of a servant.
Work becoming gift.

Good work makes thought and prayer.
Becomes a liturgy of the menial,
Litourgia—nothing less than
The “work of the people.”
And so, we work and pray.
Work and Pray.
Work and Pray,

Almighty God…Deliver me in my occupation
from the service of self alone,
that I may do the work you give me to do in
truth and beauty and for the common good;

for the sake of him who came among us as one who serves,
your Son Jesus Christ our Lord…

II.                The Mother’s Withdrawal

The monk withdrawals from the world,
Yet seeks to live in community.
This a mother lives.

Days of nesting
with newborn babe,
baby too fragile to venture outside,
mother too tired to try.
And so, we work and pray,

“O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.”

Fever and illness do the same,
Again trapped inside
Plans cancelled, doctor called,
Mopping brows, taking temperatures,
Cleaning sheets, soup made,
Stretching our hearts as cabin fever sets in.
And so we work and pray,
“Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.”

A night spent awake with the child who can't sleep
An earache, a worry, the bad dream,
Next day tired, tired, tired.
Again the withdrawal from the world.
And so we work and pray,
“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night
and give your angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend the sick, Lord Christ;
give rest to the weary…
soothe the suffering…
and all for your love's sake.”

III.               The Mother’s Account.

The monk forsaking possessions for the kingdom.
This a mother lives.
Clipping coupons,
Growing vegetables,
Hanging clothes on the line,
No disposable products in the house,
(Toilet paper excepted)
Picking berries for jam,
Turning off lights,
unplugging, unplugging, unplugging.
Not getting her haircut as often as she once did,
Laughing at memory of the days when bought magazines,
Got nails done, and stopped for lattes on the way.
Wondering if the dress from ‘99 is out-of-date,
The shoes too worn to wear…
So the family may have a true feast for a Feast,
Dance lessons for budding little girls,
A two-wheel bike for little boy believing he’s ready,
A new white dress shirt to suit Philosopher Husband
On flight to further his career,
With money in pocket if all go out after Paper given.
And so, we work and pray,

O merciful Creator,
your hand is open wide
to satisfy the needs of every living creature:
Make us always thankful for your loving providence;
and grant that we,
remembering the account that we must one day give,
may be faithful stewards of your good gifts…

IV.             The Mother’s Embrace.

A Rule of Life:
We crave it.
We ache for it.
An ordered world,
Casting off the unimportant.
Living the life you want,
Not what the day hands you.

Rather finding a Peace which passes all understanding.

A Rule of Life,
Structured spiritual formation,
Is not a list
Nor the endless sermon applications, self-help books,
Rewritten family schedules.

Rather a living covenant with the Almighty.

*All italicized prayers are excerpted from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979. Many pardons for the slicing and excerpting of beloved prayers. 

**For Alysia upon the birth of her fourth, JAW
For Heather, a mother of four soon to be.
With thanks to my own mother.
With Love, Amy

 ***For two different perspectives on a Rule for Family Life:
Read Ann’s post on the Seven Daily Rungs at Holy Experience
And Elizabeth’s Revisting the Rule of Six at In the Heart of my Home


Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

Amy, your poetry always makes me cry. Good tears! Thank you.

Jennifer said...

I really like this...the life of a mother who walks with the Proverbs 31 Women, your children will rise and and call you blessed.
Keep up the good work!


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