Monday, December 30, 2019

"One day your life won't be like this" (A revelation revisited)

SpaceShoe/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Close to seven years ago, when I was in the thick of my late-20s lifestyle -- full social calendar, regular cultural activities, a respectable level of "adulting" -- I paused in my hither-and-titherness with a blunt thought:

One day my life won't be like this.

At the time, my reflection featured the (assumed) differences between living life as a single, childless woman versus as a married parent. But now I am a married parent, and as my first full year of motherhood draws to a close, the blunt thought has resurfaced, bubbling just beneath my consciousness as I strive to make it to midnight on December 31 with all three members of my family unit healthy, happy, and more or less intact.

One day my life won't be like this.

When I mull over this phrase today in the post-holiday quiet of my house, with my husband at work and my child at daycare, with my brain and body under my sole discretion for eight blissful hours, I appreciate anew its lack of judgment. The revelation didn't say my life would become better or worse, stronger or weaker, richer or fainter. It simply pointed out that my life was destined to change -- that where one lever would push up, another switch might flip, and all manner of proverbial doors and windows would disregard their latches and flap indiscriminately in the shifting breezes of time and circumstance.

One day my life won't be like this.

In one respect, my revelation has become a mantra. I whispered it under my breath during midnight nursing sessions and long hours of maternity leave. I shouted it from rooftops when a particularly hard period resolved. I have cried over it each time I recognize that habits or traditions I held dear are quietly evolving. I sigh it whenever, for the 8 millionth time, I wash a small plastic object festooned with my child's drool.

One day my life won't be like this.

But in another respect, my revelation has become a reminder. The words call me to remain present and aware, to participate in my life as it's currently shaped rather than reach for a shadow existence that may or may not gain form. And rather than repeat the sentence, I pray it, rolling each word through my heart like a bead -- smooth, warm, pliant -- to impart those same qualities to myself.

One day, my life won't be like this. Or this. Or this. It will simply be life, and it will be mine, to make of it what I will.


Prayer #342: Going, Going, Back Again

God of constant re-discovery,

I think I've learned something, only to lose the lesson amid life's daily push and pull, and then when I learn it again, I renew my delight and awe with the slobbery joy of an infant discovering her hand is attached to her.

As I absorb anew a revelation long known to me, I call on Your profound patience to ask once more: Ground me in my current dreams and frustrations, as well as in the wisdom that every personal epoch has benefits and drawbacks. And douse me not only in the grace of perspective, but also of presence -- the breath between words, the rests within music, the sight before waking.

Amen.