Experiencing God Through My Children
“Hey Mom, that purple flower is just like the ones at our house,” my seven-year-old remarks as we approach church. The comment causes my family to pause and admire the grape hyacinths and daffodils. It sparks a conversation with the couple behind us as we stop and collectively try to identify other flowers along the path. Once, I would have powered past it all — the jonquils, the bedding plants, the people — to make sure the whole family was physically present, in the pew, on time. Today, however, I am different. I stroll, admiring the beauty of creation, enjoying the company of friends, and preparing to encounter God in the celebration of Eucharist. Through my children, I am drawn into the mystery of God.
I was oblivious to this gift of motherhood prior to my Associate relationship with the Sisters of Charity. They have led me into a deeper relationship with God, which brings peace in the midst of a hectic schedule of career, family and volunteer activities. I realize now that the command in Mt 11:29 to “take my yoke upon you, and learn from me…and you will find rest for your souls” isn’t a challenge to add to my burdens, but to exchange them. I am not undertaking more, but rather noticing where God is already present in my life. That presence is only evident when I slow down and pay attention.
As my friend Regina reminds me, relentlessness is the cross of Mothers. I once viewed caring for a sick child at 4AM as a necessary but unwelcome responsibility of parenting. I now view it as prayer in action. I once bristled at my youngest daughter’s early rising as an interruption of my morning prayer. I now experience the majesty of God when she sits in my lap and we watch the sun rise. I once became angry when my tightly-packed schedule was thrown off by a leisurely child. I now create schedules with extra time to allow for this. Balancing the many demands on a mother’s time is still a challenge, but I find peace and joy in this challenge when I allow my children to reveal God to me.
– Lisa Shay
Lisa is an Associate of the Sisters of Charity of New York and the Electrical Engineering Program Director at West Point. She and her husband Jeffrey have six wonderful children, aged 7 to 22.