I read this passage by Henri Nouwen recently and was so impacted by its relevance to life as a wife and mom, so I wanted to share. (By the way, if you have never read Henri Nouwen, put his books on your “to read” list. They are fantastic.)
“That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was. In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, “Everybody is looking for you.” He answered, “Let us go elsewhere, to the neighboring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.” And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils. (Mark 1:32-39)
In the midst of a busy schedule of activities— healing suffering people, casting out devils, responding to impatient disciples, traveling from town to town, and preaching from synagogue to synagogue— we find these quiet words: “In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there.” The more I read this nearly silent sentence locked in between the loud words of action, the more I have the sense that the secret of Jesus’ ministry is hidden in that lonely place where he went to pray, early in the morning, long before dawn. In the center of breathless activities we hear a restful breathing. Surrounded by hours of moving we find a moment of quiet stillness. In the heart of much involvement there are words of withdrawl. In the midst of action there is contemplation. And after much togetherness there is solitude. In the lonely place Jesus finds the courage to follow God’s will and not his own; to speak God’s words and not his own; to do God’s work and not his own. It is in the lonely place, where Jesus enters into intimacy with the Father, that ministry is born. In solitary prayer Jesus comes to understand his identity and mission.” (From Henri Nouwen’s Spiritual Formation.)
I know of no one more busy than moms. This reflection of Jesus’ activities sounds very much like the life of every wife and mom I know: a busy schedule of activities, tending to the suffering- mending the constant bumps and bruises, addressing the sin that goes on in our homes, responding to the immature and impatient ones in our care… and so it goes, hour by hour, day after day. Jesus knew the secret to not burning out— he knew the secret to be able to sustain this life of constant ministry and outpouring: he spent time regularly with the Father, where he gained perspective, refreshment and the strength to minister daily— to minister loving and patient words, full of instruction and grace.
If you have been “out of practice” of spending regular time with the Father, try to find a way! He will bring refreshment and sustain you for this journey that can be so wearisome. When my oldest was two and I had a newborn, the only way I could get in that time was to let her watch a little video every morning. These days, I stay up late to find time for quiet. It can be so hard to make it happen with little ones, jobs, sicknesses, and the busy lives that we live and sometimes the only options to make it happen— getting up early, videos to entertain the babes, or staying up too late, are not ideal. But the alternative is so much harder! In order to live this life we need Him, the One who is the source of all life. So… find a way with me today?