I spent quite a bit of time this weekend looking through old photos of myself and my early motherhood years. My oldest three children were born in just 2.75 years, and honestly those years are a blur in my memory. As I look at their photos, it seems those children have disappeared, vanished as if they walked into the woods one day and never came back. As I look at photos of their mother (could that have been me, really?), the naive, tired, yet hopeful looking woman with her lap full of little children, I ache for all the reality that is yet to impose itself on her.
The reality that those children will quickly grow up, that the ease of caring for them will become much more complicated.
That trying to find the transcendent amongst the daily duties will become a greater and greater challenge, and that entire weeks would pass with barely any thoughts but a practical ones crossing her mind.
That the years of marriage would be far less idyllic that she had imagined and would require far more dying to self than she thought possible.
That the powerful love she feels for her family would always be tinged and surrounded and accosted by fear, powerful, biting fear that these precious ones would be harmed somehow. Harmed by the cruel world, harmed by a careless driver, by the over-tired mother herself, too inexperienced to see the deep need of one of her children.
This young mother was yet to find out just how painful love can be, and yet that pain, the heart aching pain of looking at your family and knowing so deeply how much you love them, is the most real thing there is. There are no veils to soften that pain. It's the ache of love that will only be satisfied in Heaven, where we will finally be free to love without fear.
It makes me sad that I can't love my younger children with the naive love I had for my older children. When my oldest 3 were little, I thought I had all the time in the world. I could willy-nilly wish a day or a week away, and still have so much time to spare.
Now, with my "baby" nearly three years old, I don't want to miss a second. Every new little thing she says and does is tinged with a little sadness along with the wonder and joy of it.
It's all going so quickly, with each succession of days bringing me closer and closer to the time when they will all be gone, and I will have most my life as memories. I know we are not supposed to live either in the past or in the future, but embrace the present moment. But what I know now about the fleeting nature of the present moment make it very difficult to rest in that axiom.
So, that is my prayer for today. Please Divine Physician, and healer of souls, assist me in living in the moment, in Your presence, and guide my heart to be open to all the love you have to give me. Please don't let me close up my heart out of fear of pain. Now, and always, and forever and ever, Amen.
(image found at www.sabatier.de)