I stand in the shower and realize I could ruin my health, my sanity and my family by pouring myself with wild abandon into the need. And there would still be need.
It all seems so helpless.
I cry out to God.
And sometimes God sends His Mother. I know her now, although for so long we were estranged.
Take care of yourself.
It is a quiet whisper, a gentle remonstrance--not the rebuke that leads to shame or guilt, but the gentle urging that is so contrary to my own harsh, inner voice.
OK, I say.
I get out of the shower and dry myself off. I am always in a hurry, trying to take short-cuts.
Brush AND floss your teeth, the gentle voice says.
So, I do. I brush each tooth with love. Thank you, teeth, for helping me chew my food--food that nourishes my body and gives me strength. When is the last time you loving brushed your molars?
Your skin has been itchy and dry, use some lotion today.
I feel a little embarrassed about all this, I am not accustomed to receiving love. It is easier for me to give love than to receive it. But I slow down and apply generous gobs of lotion over my arms and legs.
Don't neglect your psoriasis.
I pull out the special cream and apply it to my itchy, stressed out skin. Why do I think that neglecting myself is OK so long as it's done in the interest of serving others?
Now, dress yourself nicely and do your makeup and hair.
I balk a little bit at this. I hate makeup. I get bored doing my hair. But she's right: I've gone around long enough in Distraught Pants. It's time to tend myself, to put away the sackcloth and ashes. My concern for the poor was teetering dangerously close to despair and how can I be of any help when I'm despairing myself?
I press my clothes, curl my hair, dab on some makeup.
I do each task with copious, brimming-full amounts of love. I'm being so nice to myself--this is a change.
So often I run ahead of grace, blazing forward with all my good intentions for righteous living. Productivity is good, serving the poor is good, living a wholesome life is good-- but not at the cost of being rooted and grounded in love--not at the cost of ignoring the Source of Love.
Now, go be with the children and be happy with them.
It's a small thing, but so important: a smile. My children see my smile and know I am happy, rooted in love, affirming.
We make our schedule for the day. I dole out tasks and we work happily together.
Sometimes the way of peace begins with taking care of yourself and then mopping your own kitchen floor.