I’ll be spending the first weekend in June leading a retreat for a group of women who all have small children. Raising young children these days is not what it was when my parents did it, or even when I was doing it – I don’t think the word ‘parenting’ even existed much before the mid 90s, and the pressures on parents in our society are immense.
This small group of women from St. Columba’s in Botany gather each week for a bible study (with wine and chocolate) and they recognise that they are still looking for more than this. They are all what Rob Bell would call ‘Eucharist tired’. Their lives are a constant round of being broken open and poured out for their families. They are living with the paradox of being both desperately lonely and desperately wanting to be alone.
Most of us, when we are this kind of tired, hope that a weekend away will fix things. We hope that if we can just get a good night’s sleep, and recharge our batteries, then we will be able to face the next day with something like enthusiasm. We hope that a movie, a night out, a treat of some kind will refill the emptiness and give us enough energy to keep going until the next time out.
It’s not true though.
When you are Eucharist tired you need more than a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates to recharge and refresh, and these women know it. You need to find a way to tap into the Source of Love in order to keep love flowing when your life is a constant round of pouring out for others.
So over the weekend we’ll be exploring practices that invite them to tap into that deeper flow. I’ll be offering them tools to help them open to the flow of Divine love, and giving them an opportunity to reflect on how these practices might become part of what sustains them in the everyday.
Raising children is emotionally and physically demanding. But this is not the only time in life when we can be Eucharist tired, or when we are desperately lonely and still crave time alone.
Life continues to offer us crucible experiences, whether it is caring for aging parents or for a spouse with declining health… finding energy to care for energetic grandchildren, or carrying concerns for our children who are always our children no matter how old they get…
In the gospel, the Christian life of grace made incarnate in reconciling, transforming love is the life blood that flows when we allow ourselves to be poured out for others, then the crucible experience can be the place where we are refined. We can become more open, more attuned to the movement of Love in and through us. If we rely on our own small store of grace we will find ourselves emptied in no time and definitely feeling the heat. Sometimes we find resources we didn’t know we had, and sometimes we spontaneously combust.
I am grateful for the privilege of sharing some of these potentially life giving practices and to join these women who are living in the crucible of family life, and I am grateful for the privilege to be given the freedom to do so.