NOTE TO SELF: A couple things I don’t want to forget from earlier today…
This afternoon, while the older four were still in school, Nick (almost 4) was doing something on the way out to the van that seemed rather strange: pulling at his skin around the area of his temple. “Look Mom,” he said, apparently wanting to call attention to his actions. “What are you doing?” I asked. “I’m pulling my brain.” Hmmm. Not exactly sure what brain-pulling accomplishes. Would that be the same as stretching one’s brain? I could use a little of that from time to time, I’m sure.
Later on, when the chicks were gathered (but showing signs of being a bit worn down), a few squabbles broke out — about the time I was trying to prepare dinner. There’s something about a mother going into the kitchen to get dinner ready that seems to trigger the “let’s get wild and crazy now” button in kids. Adam, 6, ended up at the bottom of the heap, and was quite upset. Even after everyone else had scattered outside, he was having a hard time letting go of his frustration. Oftentimes when I’m focused on something like making dinner and these kinds of disruptions occur, my reaction (in my own fatigue) might be less than compassionate. I might be tempted to utter something akin to, “I told you you were going to get hurt if…” But instead of going there, I switched gears, taking him aside and offering him my very best mother hug. Even if I couldn’t undo or reverse what had happened, I could at least let him know that I’m sorry things like that do happen, and that I realize how unfair it is, and that I care. It didn’t take long for his tears to stop and that little “release breath” signaling better moments ahead to erupt. And then…he was off to join the others outside. Sometimes, it takes so little to make things right. A bit of extra time just to acknowledge a hurt can go a long way. I’m disappointed to admit I forget more often than remember this truth.
And then, still later, this poem/prayer came to my attention, and it seemed ever so fitting to keep it near, given my need for frequent reminders of how best to cultivate peace in my own home. In my mind, it’s not just a nice little poem. It has a lot of depth. It turns everything upside-down, reminding us that, indeed, it’s up to us to be the light we seek for our families.
Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.