10 July, 2006


I don't think I could ever be a mother; I'd probably land in jail shortly after birth. It bewilders me how easily a baby's wails increase to an ungrateful rage, while you sit there cooing usessly, wondering, What on earth did I do wrong? In saner moments, you realize that there's nothing you can do, it's not about you or what you do; it's about the baby and what she wants — and she's not very good at communicating what she wants.

That makes it no less discouraging. Add to that the pains associated with nursing; sleepless nights and dirty diapers are child's play by comparison.

St. Therése writes that we are like small children who break our toys and run to God, asking him to fix them for us. Lately I've been thinking that we are like infants with no idea what is good for us, and are not very good at communicating it anyway. We wail inconsolably until someone puts a pacifier of sorts in our mouth. And boy, do we have loads of pacifiers: gadgets, computer games, television shows, music, world travel, weblogs... But none of these satisfies us in the end; what we really need is spiritual food and drink, which only God can give. And when God gives us what we need, how does man respond to God's self-offering? By drawing blood, in a manner similar perhaps to the way that nursing children sometimes draw blood from their mothers.

This reminds me vaguely of something from St. John of the Cross, who talks about the weaning of the soul from spriitual delights causing distress to the same. Let's see... Hey, I actually found it at the beginning of The Dark Night of the Soul:

2. It should be known, then, that God nurtures and caresses the soul, after it has been resolutely converted to His service, like a loving mother who warms her child with the heat of her bosom, nurses it with good milk and tender food, and carries and caresses it in her arms. But as the child grows older, the mother withholds her caresses and hides her tender love; she runs bitter aloes on her sweet breast and sets the child down from her arms, letting it walk on its own feet so that it may put aside the habits of childhood and grow accustomed to greater and more important things. &c.
It's curious how I can read about a thing and understand it quite well, then experience the same thing and realize how shallow that understanding was.

1 comment:

Elliot said...

So true. There's 'knowing' a thing, and knowing it.

Still, reading about it first can sometimes help you recognize the real thing when it comes.

Good analogies, by the way.