The Life of Joy

Life can mean a heart beat and brain activity, and Life can mean sanctifying grace.  Somewhere between, where these two mingle in the wondrous creature Man, is another meaning of the word.  Life as it is lived in all its complexity day to day.   To be pro-life is to be for all three of these.  And it is this middle kind of life that I think mothers are particularly suited to champion.  I will call this union of biological life and spiritual life the Life of Joy.  Children possess this life in a special way because of their innocence and energy.  We are the caretakers of little living vessels of sanctifying grace.  Warm soft breathing bodies filled with God’s grace.  To be generous and open to life does not only mean to welcome these fabulous beings when they are knit in our wombs.  It means to generously share each of them as a gift not just to us but to the world.  I have said before that a homemaker is a joymaker.  We are also caretakers of the glowing embers of joy that are our children, and the world needs their warmth.  So share your children.

Share your children by taking them to Mass, even though they may squirm in the pews.  Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them.”  Share your children by being proud to bring them with you in public.  Share your children by accepting the help of strangers even when it is actually inconvenient.  They are being called by your children’s joy, trying to draw close to it, nourish it, and keep a part of it.  Even if it means you feel the need to secretly douse your kids with Purell when you get to the car, share your children by letting the lonely grandmother feel the grip of their chubby dimpled fingers or the velvety softness of their cheek. Share your children by accepting graciously all compliments about them, however tired and trite. Share your children by asking for help when you do need it!  Your pride may be humbled but you are offering someone an opportunity to be a caretaker of joy too.  And yes, share your children with those who scowl at them, and those who mutter about them.  Do not let them discourage you or force you to hide your children away from the community, ashamed that they are an inconvenience to others.  Who needs joy more than such miserable people?  

Be pro-life, from conception to natural end.  Live the part in between with the same joy we hope for in the life to come.  Become like children.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “The Life of Joy

  1. Deb Durocher

    When our son Matt was about 2 – we were at a Jose Feliciano concert at Ontario Place. It is an outside music venue at the lakeshore in Toronto – the performance space is in the middle and surrounded by grassy hills. We were seated on a blanket on the grass and Matt was sitting with us. Every so often – he would get up and dance and run around us and then come and sit down. After a few minutes of this I was worried that he might be bothering the people around us. An older lady sitting near us could see that I was quietly trying to convince him to sit still. She came over to us and said “I know you are worried that your son’s activity is bothering other people – but don’t be. He is a happy, healthy little boy taking pleasure in the music and being outside – just be happy that he has a good brain and a strong body and that he CAN run around – he is not bothering anyone”. We were extremely grateful to her and I think about her whenever I am around little kids (which I love) and whenever I hear other complaining about noise or mess or activity with little kids. Enjoy your little ones – the rest of us do!

  2. Janet

    Enjoyed your post on Catholic Exchange “See How Big Families Love”. As the oldest of 12 children, I can attest that my Mom got all those questions. We knew we were loved and we had so much fun growing up . Even those we are far apart, we are still close. Bless you and your family.

  3. Anonymous

    Frankly, I kind of resent being called “miserable” just because kids annoy me. I do just fine for myself. Not everyone has the patience to deal with kids, that’s all, and when kids are behaving badly in public, I’ll admit that I do get annoyed–less at the kids, more at the parents for not being able to control them.

    • I am sorry that I offended you. Let me clarify what I mean. When I speak of miserable here I am talking about people like in the following story: I took my children out on Sunday morning to IHOP with their father the day after he came home from three months away for work. My 3 year old was very happy and excited. Now the restaurant was incredibly loud because it was an Oklahoma IHOP on Sunday morning but even so he was occasionally too loud. We would immediately correct him and remind him of restaurant voice rules but yes, he was having a hard time remembering. A woman came up to me after her meal, which ended about 5/10 minutes after we were seated, and told me “I have never wanted to kill a kid before” gave him a horrid look and left. That woman, I believe is miserable. I think that kind of antipathy towards a three year old child being cheerful and not perfect means you just can’t be a happy person. So if you would make death threats at children in a noisy IHOP, yeah I’m sorry I think that’s miserable. Probably that’s not you. It’s not most people, but sadly many many parents can tell you similar stories of aggressive behaviour aimed at them with less provocation than that. There are people who genuinely hate children, just because they are children. Being annoyed with children is a perfectly natural human reaction. I get annoyed with children! Even my own. And I think we all get annoyed with parents we think aren’t doing their job (although I think we should be slow to judge when we don’t know anything but the one moment we see before us.) Anyway annoyance = natural. And I don’t think everyone is called to be a parent. But when I say “scowl and mutter” I mean it. I get annoyed at kids, but I don’t think, let me take that out on these innocents. And I think being mean to kids is, yes, miserable. The rising attitude that makes children unwelcome in public just because they are children, that says families shouldn’t be allowed on airplanes because they dared to have an infant who has the audacity to cry sometimes, that feels it necessary to make deeply personal comments to complete strangers about their children or their sex lives, that doesn’t even want kids in churches though our Lord said theirs is the kingdom of heaven? That’s miserable. Children are annoying, and challenging and difficult, and beautiful and our future. If you just SEE a child and their existence makes you mad, that’s miserable. And bad planning because if there are no kids who will look after everyone, be their nurses and doctors etc when they are old? If one cannot see the good in children along with the bad one is missing out on something naturally beautiful and missing out on something Jesus tells us is so important that we should actually emulate it! It is a big loss. I’m not saying finding children difficult and irritating makes you a miserable person, but treating children and families poorly for daring to come out in public is. It’s a deficiency in charity.

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