Thursday, August 30, 2007

Soup with Attitude

Ella was sick this morning and Margaret wasn't feeling herself.

Because it's what I'm supposed to do, I offered them soup for lunch. Sure, I'll make it from scratch, because I know you love my tomato soup. So about two hours later I place it in front of you. Can I have a grilled cheese sandwich too? We're out of bread except rye. We'll eat rye, Mom. Ok, I'll make it. Fifteen minutes later we find out we don't like rye. Not a problem, Mom will eat it. We're not really feeling like soup either, and Margaret has fallen asleep.

I've been thinking about the Gospel reading from Dormition on Tuesday about Mary and Martha. I wonder whether Martha's problem was just a bad attitude. Did Jesus really want her to put down her bowls and washcloths and have a seat; or did he want her to sit at His feet in her heart as Mary does in reality? Since I'm not particularly well-versed in Scripture or the Fathers, I'm going to say it seems that it should be so; but I'm up for being corrected by my favorite Orthodox priest. I also hope it could be so, because there are people like me who simply can't sit down, because if they were to take a seat the people around them would suffer for it.

Some Sundays I wonder if I was able to pray at all during Liturgy because of the kids. But other times I stand in awe at the wisdom of the Fathers. The liturgical method of prayer is undoubtedly the most conducive for the raising of children in the Church. With my hands coralling the kids or swatting someone's rear end at the end of a metania, I can at the same time know that I am not missing a single note or a line of prayer during the liturgy, as I raise my children in the Church.

If I were standing still, contemplating my eyelids, with my kids in a nursery, I can't imagine that I would feel the same assurance. Though there are those days that I wish for a nursery--or a Latin nanny who stays home with the kids while I pursue my higher spiritual calling. Who knows what a great saint I would be then?

The Lord does, no doubt, which is why no one has shown up to take over the care of mis niƱos.

So much for the nursery; our church doesn't have one anyway. I know in my heart that the only way to make any of this work is with my good attitude. If mine goes sour, so do my kids, my husband, and our little church.

I consider it a blessing that very early on in my motherhood I ran across an essay by G.K. Chesterton entitled, "The Emancipation of Domesticity." If I ever begin to consider the drudgery of my life as a wife, mother, homeschooler, and matushka, I reread the article. I love this essay, not because it is particularly Christian, but because it is preeminently rational in a world where reason takes second, third, nil place to what is popular or romantic. Here's a tiny part:

If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets cakes. and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.