The nuns have their living quarters on one side of the monastery, with a small chapel at the center, and guest rooms flanking the other side. We were free to use the chapel, any of the cozy and quiet rooms on the guest end, and the grounds surrounding the facility. We were also invited to join the nuns for morning prayers. This non-Catholic was touched when upon arrival, the nun explained that while we were using their space, they would be praying for us. These are women who have spent the last fifty years in prayer, each and every day. I was honored.
Visiting the monastery was perfect timing. A kiss at the end of summer, awaiting the beautiful autumn. I am a "fall" girl. I feel most alive in the season of changing leaves. I'm always more energized. More focused. I had dreams about using the monastery time to strategize and plan out my entire fall. Goals, projects, vision. You get the idea.
As I sat down to think about entering September, the month I refer to as "mine", my thoughts went to my boy. Does this happen to every parent? The immediate recognition that life is totally and completely altered because of our little ones?
One of the theological mysteries that I often contemplate is prayer. Since having Jack, I have spent more time pleading with God than I ever thought was possible. Pleading with God for each and every breath. Pleading for health. Pleading for protection. Also, more time spent in thankfulness. Utter and life-altering thankfulness for each milestone. More acceptance of his life and his needs. Acknowledgement that for some reason, Jack was spared and he is on this earth.
This is the confusing balance. Of wanting and pleading for more. Always more. Feelings of desperation. But also of accepting more. Of knowing we are the lucky ones. Of gratitude. This is why prayer is such a mystery to me.
And so in the first moment of quiet at the monastery, I scribbled down these words. I had stolen away to an outside deck. My view was a big golden field and an outcropping of trees beyond. I was watching the sun dip down the big Montana skyline and as I saw the light fade, I wrote these words:
How much do I ask for?
How much do I accept?
The line always fluctuates.
Then reminding myself how good we have it.
My boy is alive.
He is JOY.
But still, I ask.
Lord, please let me hear his little voice.