Monday, November 29, 2010

Sleeping With Bread: What is Your Manna?

"And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat."

What is your manna?
Gluten-free bread aside, what fills you up and sates your hunger?

Last night, manna fell from heaven for me.  

There are two things that I always feel hungry for.  I mean, not your regular hunger, but starving-child-in-Africa type hunger.  The first is peace.  I was just thinking the other day about what I pray for alot.  What themes are pretty much a constant?  One thing that is usually first on my prayer requests is peace in my home.  Our house is NOT a peaceful home.  It is alot of other things - fun, joyous, interesting, curious, unique, energetic - but peaceful is rarely, if ever, on that list.  About the only time it is peaceful is when we've stuffed the kids in front of a movie so they are effectively sedated.  It occurred to me the other day, that probably not all mothers pray so fervently for peace.  That there other mothers probably have different problems, quieter problems.  Some days I pray for quieter problems.  If the kids aren't fighting with each other and brawling, they are giggling as they stomp and pound and run and screech their way through the house.  So peace is something I always dream about.

The other thing I hunger for is some kind of hint that I'm doing a good job with my children's hearts.  As a mother, I think that is an area I struggle with alot.  I am pretty good, I think, at feeding and molding young minds.  The kids seem to be progressing quite well academically and are pretty creative and good at critical thinking.  They seem to like books and have a healthy curiosity about the world.  I'm fairly satisfied with our efforts in that area.  I also think I'm doing well with their bodies.  We may not take baths or brush teeth as often as is probably called for, but they are healthy.  They eat pretty healthy and physical activity is part of our family culture.  We are a hiking, camping, rock climbing, football playing, rollerblading kind of a group.  Family vacations are almost always planned around some kind of physical activity.  I always get a big thumbs up from the pediatrician, so I think I'm doing pretty well with these little bodies.

Their hearts, on the other hand, always concern me.  I'm not sure if I'm doing a very good job teaching them kindness and compassion for other people.  I certainly make an effort, but I don't seem to be excelling in this area.  And their spiritual growth is not at all what I imagine it ought to be either.  My kids are the kids at mass who are hitting each other and laying on the floor whining and not paying attention AT ALL and often getting dragged out the back door because they are completely disturbing everyone around us.  The Family Formation home lessons that everyone at our church loves so much (it's like Sunday School but lucky me, they have me teach it at home to my own tribe) are a constant battlefield and often don't get done because I don't have the strength to fight that fight.  And the suggestion to read scripture daily with your children?  Ha!  They can't hear me because they are too busy tantruming and beating on each other and screaming they hate the Bible.  So fine, maybe traditional Catholic spiritual formation is not our path to follow, but then what is?  My religious upbringing was pretty sparse so I don't have a rich background to draw ideas from and riff off of.  So I often feel lost as to how to help my children learn about God and follow his path for them.  So this is another thing that I find myself praying for alot.

A peaceful home and seeing my children with spirit-filled hearts are two things that I am always hungry for, starving for.  Last night God sent me some manna and sated my hunger, at least for one night.  The day was not so stellar, a Family Formation lesson started out well but soon dissolved into tears and throwing things.  We didn't make it to mass in the morning.  It was the first Sunday in Advent and in the move I somewhere lost my Advent wreath and my nativity stable.  I've had better days.  But then I remembered that Epiphany had a 5:30 p.m. mass for those of us who are not at our best in the a.m.  So I started out hoping to take all the kids to mass, but after tears and tantrums I decided I wasn't up to it.  So I said whoever wants to can stay home.  Violet and Mitchell both jumped ship, but Henry wanted to come with still.  So Henry and I went to mass and it was lovely.  It was so peaceful and just plain wonderful.  We marveled at God's beautiful creation as we drove into the sunset and talked about plans to take a train trip together someday.  I had an idea that we should put on a family Christmas pageant and Henry thought it was a great idea.  Mass was very youth-oriented (I think the Sunday night one usually is) and so we both got alot out of it I think.  On the way home we sipped fancy coffee with whipped cream and sang Christmas carols in the dark.  

Once we got home, the table was set with a tablecloth and candles, and dinner was ready.  The presence of a tablecloth or maybe the late hour seemed to calm the children and our meal had a decidedly normal flavor to it instead of being more akin to a medieval tavern as it usually is.  Soft music played while we ate and when I suggested my pageant idea to the rest of the family, everyone was very excited.  The children dashed off to start rehearsing and working on the special effects.  They worked together joyfully and in harmony as they decided where the stage should be and recruited stuffed animals for the stable scene.  The night ended, after a few bedtime shenanigans, with my hubby and I playing a board game at the table.  It was a beautiful night, and as I went to sleep I felt very full in every way.  Thank you Lord for manna.

What is your manna?

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