It's astonishing the things I find scribbled in notebooks throughout the house. Like little pieces of memory that fell out of my brain and attached themselves to paper, waiting to be recovered again at a later date. I found an old journal entry today that reminded me of some things. Big, big things. Like how powerful the love of a mother is... and how making a Consecration to our Blessed Mother has saved my neck more than once.
The entry I recently found was dated right before my family "quit the world" and all of the opportunity for fanatical sport-loving families that frenetic American suburbia has to offer. Our minds, bodies, and souls were heavily burdened by the race. My children were staggering under the weight of victory medals and cracking under the pressure of simultaneously maintaining worldly success and Catholic identity. And it didn't matter that we tried to keep praying and believing and storing up the sacramental graces. Sometimes, we have to recognize that we have placed our kids on a battlefield for which they are not equipped. And sometimes, we have to swallow our pride and just quit.
Although I knew deep down that quitting was the answer, I didn't want to do it. I wanted to say no. Instead of saying no, I renewed my Consecration to Mary, knowing that she would move any mountain with that small step of faith. I had forgotten that hard time just a few years ago now and that rediscovered notebook reminded me. Those of you who have followed me through that journey know about the miracle of our eventual yes. You know how we coached and trained and competed and traveled and stretched... and you also know how God rescued us from ourselves through the intercession of Blessed Mother.
My little journal entry brings it all back to me. The darkness and the struggle. How many years ago now? Three? Four? I don't even know. But this is what I wrote just before the dawn...
This feeling of never being settled. Never realizing my dreams. Always slipping down the fast and furious slope of mediocrity and failure. I am not a plastic saint. I am not even a blood, sweat and tears saint. I am nothing at all like a saint. Just a miserable failure who can't even remember to pray during my despair. I squeak out a little "Lord, have mercy" once in awhile and then just pick up miserably where I left off.
I once wanted to have chickens. And children. I wanted children who raised chickens. Then I just had children who ate chicken shaped into little nuggets before I drove them to a sporting event. I once thought I would sew for my children and wear aprons and paint with them in the glow of the afternoon sun. What came of that dream? Yoga pants and movie nights happened. I wore the yoga pants and went into another room while they watched the movie. For a little comfort. A little silence.
Why have I failed? Why is it so hard to capture a beautiful and slow life in reality? Can it really be done or is it a deception? A movie script that has us questioning why we have missed all the romance while everyone else finds it?
I've been intentionally quitting the world repeatedly for years but I have never made it for more than a day or so. The world and worldly things have a thorough grip on my heart like a hooked fish. I can try to shake it off but it tears and causes pain. I either swim away, exhausted and shredded, or give up peacefully to be eaten. The world is my home. I am the world. The world is me. What am I willing to give up to find out where it ends and I begin? I'm looking it in the eye and I see what it is thinking: you will fail. Because I always do.
I look straight back and with a sigh of resignation I say: Yes. I believe that you are right. So I suppose I shall lose nothing in trying.
Today is the day that I pick up my Consecration and ask blessed Mother to change my life. She has done it before and I trust she will do it again. My job, as I understand it, is to step aside and let love lead. I'm okay with that today. Let's do this.
And for those of you who don't know the the end of the story... We did. She did. She shook things up. We stepped aside and let her... and quit the world. It was around that time when I changed the name of my blog to Blossoming Joy. It fits. And I've never looked back.