Our morning at Common Table today consisted of an excellent Taize service with some great live music. We had some quadraphonic sound with vox, keys, geetar, and oboe at the corners of our circle, and the usual chants and repetition meant to push our conscious chatter to the side and allow us to focus on God. With several sections of lectionary Scripture reading and just the right amount of silence and interaction (the Passing of the Peace was epic today), it was just about perfect.
Unfortunately, my observation of this was mostly academic, since I was simultaneously negotiating with my 3-year old and holding my 11-month old. Feeling a little sorry for myself, if that wasn’t obvious enough. Because I was right there, so close to such a beautiful meditative experience, but unable to dive in. Forced instead to sway and bounce and shush so that the silence would not be filled with “Bu-bu-bu-bu-bu-bu-bu-bu…” Suddenly very aware of this long road stretching out before me, eventually leading to the Land of Self-Sufficient Children. Which I obviously don’t mind, but which sometimes leaves me feeling a bit tired.
But after the older child was led away to the kids’ space, I looked to my right at my friend Sam, who was doing the same two-step with his youngest son. Who was falling asleep. Which reminded me that my Lucia often takes naps, at this very time of day (imagine!). So I slid her down into the cross-chest cradle position and whispered to her for a minute. At which point she cooperatively slid her left thumb into her mouth and extended her index finger along the bridge of her nose, as is her custom. Sleep didn’t come immediately, but it did come steadily, and deeply.
Which gave me time to do some unsanctioned contemplation of my own. While I can’t quite make it to the on-ramp for classical contemplation as long as I’m tending to a tiny child on Sunday, I can take the opportunity to embrace the contemplative practices of my everyday, and especially of my children. For though it is aggravating to the extreme, it is also fulfilling to sublimate my impatience and to instead slow down and encourage a child to finish a meal. Or to sit back for a few minutes and watch the pride that comes when one child dresses herself, or the other pulls herself up to stand. And though it looks like nothing at all, there is an art and discipline to finding a quiet place inside oneself to convey the gift of rest to another person. It is a form of meditation, to be sure.
So while I might need to stay outside of the circle for a time, I’ve got a lot to learn out here.