I feel very small and insignificant when I travel. I am, for better or worse, an unabashed homebody. I like to nest and put down roots. I thrive on creating predictable schedules and a nurturing haven for my many children. My life is largely lived at home and it so fills up my heart that I sometimes forget how big and busy the outside world is. As I traveled last week, I kept having thoughts like: it's so loud out here! Or: why is everyone walking so fast? I couldn't help but notice how many people avoid eye contact with each other and how most interactions are perfunctory, truncated, superficial.
Maybe it's the mother-heart within me, but everywhere I go--I'm a mother. I reach out, I nurture, I make eye-contact, I smile, I try to put people at ease, make them feel safe. It was odd to have these motherly gestures rebuffed, interrupted or ignored. I had to re-adjust my entire stance, body-language and words to the outside world. Mothering, I realized, is a deeply intimate act. It's not meant for public consumption.
In some ways, traveling gave me a respite from my responsibilities. It was nice to have a break. But by the third night away from my babies, my arms were physically aching to hold them. I slept fitfully. I forced myself to stay in the moment and enjoy my time away but something was always missing. Mothering, it seems, has penetrated to the deepest core of my being. Without it, I am lost, bereft.
On the morning before my flight home, I was feeling especially fragile. I made my way to the nearest church just in time for Mass. As I settled into the familiar liturgy, a deep warmth spread over me. I can only describe it as an embrace. I was Home.
This mother was being Mothered.
The Gospel reading was from John 15. The words of Jesus rang over my heart, a panoply of love: "As the Father loves Me, so I also love you. Remain in my love."
Remain in My love. It's a choice, isn't it? It's an act of the will to remain in His love. How often I've wandered from that love, convinced that I know better for my life. And how many times I've been disappointed by the futility of seeking my own way. I am His child, He knows me best. He always leads me Home.
This trip made me think about how my children are getting older and how they don't need me like they did when they were babies. They need me in different ways now.
Even when I'm home with them, I sometimes feel lost--not knowing how to mitigate and mother their changing needs. But as I lit a candle for them and knelt to pray, I was reassured of one thing: God my Father hears my prayers.
He will lead them safely Home.
[The picture is of me standing outside St. Clement's in Chicago, IL. Such a lovely neighborhood church. I felt so at Home.]