Finding Silence in the Chaos

So, it’s the night before Christmas; only a few hours of it left. Finally, a small silence is descending upon the house. Not a complete silence, no, never. But, for the next, oh, HOUR, it’s as quiet as it’s been in weeks. {Although, realistically, by the time I post, that hour will be GONE baby GONE.}

The small boys have finally fallen to sleep; though I have to wake them in an hour to get to midnight Mass. Even so, I’ll take it. Two of the girls have fallen into drowsy snooze, another is doing hair and the eldest is quietly playing piano. Coffeedoc is resting a bit, chilling before the last big push of Advent: again, that beautiful rigorous glorious midnight Mass. Granpa G is downstairs, snoozing no doubt. Booboo, well, he’s either still out sitting with his sweet girlfriend or he’s gone down to play some music himself. I have 20 minutes before I need to change, myself, and then launch the troops.

Amidst all this hustle and bustle…oh, who am I kidding, amidst the bedlam and wild careening boys and snapping moody girls and the hoisting and toting and then clanging and speeding of time and bodies and lists and on and on…I’ve found myself wishing for that silence of Advent. Wondering where it went and how to find it. I’ve been craving that, but simply yearning for ANY kind of silence, inner, outer, body, mind, soul. I have to admit, I’ve despaired a bit, here and there, of finding it this season.

But as we wrap up Advent, I am rethinking that despair of missing it somehow. I’ve changed my mind a bit. I think that I have inadvertantly found that deep, that silent part of Advent. Over the past few days, this past week especially, the conversations I’ve had with good friends, my kids, my dear Tom, have struck me. It took me some stewing over it to parse out the why of it. But, what I’ve found in the moods and tears and needs that I’ve listened to, see, felt, held, soothed, paced about, vented about, jangled through my own self, prayed about…is that it’s in there still; that deep after all.

This is a kind of tough transitional Christmas here in our house due to big changes; to Chris being absent. Thus, the whole traditional everything….isn’t. It’s hard to polish up a tradition when one big piece of it is missing. It’s easy to hang onto what it WAS and what it seems it should/must be. But, the very challenging trick is to accept that it’s morphing into something slightly new, slightly different, yet essentially the same. And this year, well, this year there is some twinge of sadness over that. Hard to do. And it seems that Advent isn’t supposed to be about the blues or grief or fussing or worry or hating change; at the same time it all seems too loud, too busy, too jangly, too much, and somehow so very much not enough.

But that’s it! Right there. That’s the whole of it, in a way, isn’t it?

Advent isn’t Christmas. Not yet.

Advent is that whole wait and prep for Christmas. It’s that wait for a messiah. To save us/me. And so it only makes sense to my old brain that if that is so, then yeah, Advent might be a boatload of work and trying to make mountains move and fail and fuss and kvetch and whinge on and on and worry and just be out of sorts. I mean, the Virgin Mary had to ride a donkey into Bethlehem as she was beginning labor! Talk about having a hard time maintaining the cheerful can-do attitude! Ya think she wasn’t sad and fretting and just wanted to get off the road and settle? Um, I betcha. Kinda like Advent. Maybe, just maybe, we are supposed to recognize that our lives (ok, me, mine) here are not, cannot be, just so glitzy blingy perfect in every way no matter how many bows we stick on them and no matter how many hours sitting in traffic we log. Maybe, just maybe, we are supposed to see it, live it, do the physical bodily weary work of it so that we can cry out with joy when God descends to JOIN us and come and live with us….to save us from our selves. Maybe one of the key parts of Advent is really the process of it. Even in the midst of the wrapping the cutting the taping the labels the cookies the dishes the finding jackets and gloves and retying shoes…we actually, by doing the job in front of us, are preparing our hearts to rejoice, finally, fully, for real, at the birth of a savior.

Well, I guess that maybe that under all those tasks and sighs and clanging and banging….there is a deep work that is happening. And it’s silent, so easy to overlook. But, I really think it’s there. I’m counting on it.

And now, I am going to go dress for Mass, wake my kids, nudge them as they grump through the dressing and driving, smile at Tom when they fall asleep in the pew and then bring them back home and tuck them in bed. Because, I think I’ve found the silence I was craving. It was there all the time. Deep and still under it all. Which means I’m almost ready to sing. Merry Christmas…almost……

Brittle

Well, I don’t want to beat this to death.  But I think for me to really, honestly, track this process from the parental standpoint, ok, the mom angle, I’ve gotta just put a quick blip up on blog.

This is hard.

This giving your son to God, it’s kinda hard. Oh yeah, it’s joyous and deep and profound and all that…. But the clear hard fact is that we are saying goodbye for reals, and he is not only moving far away, he’s giving up his worldly life.  Which means, learning to detach from us too in many ways.  And it means us learning to detach from  him.  And I type that and feel the hot tears.  I hold myself tighter as I blink hard to keep typing, fast, get it out before the flood hits and/or to let me blink even FASTER to push that tide back, again.

And I know, this is all a personal pity party in many ways.  It’s all tangled, happy sad proud amazed worried:  I am truly deeply tap dancing happy for him as he enters, for  this beckoning call, his ability to recognize it and respond.  And I know that many a mom has said goodbye to her son to go to war across the world, with legitimate fears for his safety. I get that.  Utterly.  I mean, I’m sending by son to Cincinnati, for heaven’s sake. Not Afghanistan.  The irony is not lost on me.  My dork factor and wallowing ability makes duck my head in shame even as I can laugh at the/my stupidity of it all.  I know that my fears for his times of lonely and spiritual struggle are something each of us go through, no matter our circumstances in life. Some of the loneliest times can be IN a marriage.  So, I cannot protect him from any of it.  Nor should I try. And while I want to, I know that I can’t and really, shouldn’t want to because it’s part of the process he, we all, must go through.

But anyhow.  I’m bad at goodbyes.  We are in the countdown weeks now.  And I’m feeling the pressure, brittle, tired, leaky.  I can still savor these days and  hours with him, and I do.  But, another part of me wants to drive him straight up to the Novitiate house right now so I can get him there safely.  It feels like battles are afoot.  Spiritual battles, even.  But that’s a whole ‘nother post and I just heard the few  readers I have click away anyhow, because now they know I”m a nutcase.

But, I  need to say, for any mom going through this too….it’s amazing but it is hard.  And it’s a loaded few weeks ahead.  And I’m a bit brittle and holding tight, carrying myself carefully as I walk through these days so I don’t fall to pieces.  I’m leaking…feels a bit like the little dutch boy……holding back the dam.

>California Dreaming

>

Is it a dream? Nope, we made it!

We are happily ensconsed in my big sister’s lovely home, my favorite guest room in the world (kids spread out all over). Our flight was late, Little Man had a hard time, he can’t sleep on planes either (like his mom) and got mega fussy. I ‘baby wrestled’ with a very wired Gabriel for about half the flight, then he threw up on me and felt good enough to fall asleep. The little girls both fell asleep I think before we were off the tarmac and slept until landing. And a 5 hour flight feels like a walk in the park compared to 17. So altogether a successful night, capped by late late night In N Out burgers (to the utter joy of my teen boys).

We are so happy to be here, it is so beautiful. They say it’s scorching here, but it’s not compared to home so we are delighted! My sister has taken all my girls and Little Man to her office and then shopping, clearly wanting to earn time off purgatory! (that’s a Catholic joke, sorry). I will meet her for lunch and earn some MORE time there for me (sorry, again, I can’t help it).

Otherwise I am hoping to meet with a dear old friend or two and just relish being here and being surrounded by my sister and nephews and bro in law. Life is good, we just don’t see each other nearly enough. In a few days, we hit the beach!