Thursday, October 8, 2015

Day 8: Your Home Matters

(Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter. Pictures courtesy of an apple picking trip and dinner with Granddad while he passed through town on business!)

Most of us will never experience life in a monastery. We will never know that kind of silence, focus, and intense prayer. We will never know what it's like to be in that stable and calm environment.

Or will we?

{pretty, happy, funny, and real}


The home is intended to be a refuge. In the home, we are re-charged before going back out into the world. Hopefully, our homes include some prayer and some quiet. But it's the nature of our homes that they can't be all quiet prayer time. It's not the charism of family life. Much of our prayer as parents is the love in which we live life, the way we tenderly care for our children. Our more formal times of prayer (added to random prayers thrown throughout the day) strengthen us in that ever important work. We'll talk more about that another day.

But today we're talking about the environment you make for your family. Yes, you should pray with your children. Yes, you should teach them about God. But even a real monastery isn't solely made up of overtly religious activities. A real monastery has time for work, time for recreation, time for meals, and time for sleep. Much of the life of a monastery consists in these very ordinary activities. 

There is beauty in the ordinary. What you are trying to create in your home is a similar sense of routine and stability. One of the ways you can make your home a refuge is by making the daily rhythms predictable. 

I remember going on a retreat in high school, and during the retreat they covered up all the clocks with signs that said, "God's time." They reassured us that they would keep track of our schedule, would tell us when we needed to move on to the next thing, and that we didn't need to worry about it. We could just relax and focus on experiencing the retreat.

I remember how freeing that felt, and a lot of us reflected on the fact that we hadn't felt that way since childhood - the freedom of not having to figure out and fret over our own schedule.

 

It's important for you, as a parent, to figure out that schedule so your children can feel that peace. But your peace matters, too! Aiming for predictability in your home means that all of you can relax a bit. You can focus on the ever important work of just being a family.

The other day I came across this article (click here) which gave an important reminder: your family life matters. As parents, we sometimes are given the impression that what we can give our children isn't enough, and therefore isn't important. But it is! The home is an environment no one else can replicate!


You're probably already creating this kind of environment, without even realizing it. You probably already have a family routine in place - a time that everyone wakes up and goes to sleep, and eats, and goes to school/does school at home, goes to work, eats meals, prays, etc. Your natural inclination as a parent is already to make your home safe and predictable.

What I'm challenging you to do today, is to be mindful. Be mindful of what you're doing and how you're doing it. You may need to tweak a thing or two, but chances are you don't need to change a thing. Chances are that you're already creating a predictable environment where the members of your family feel safe enough to be themselves!

That is what the home is, after all - a place of safety and comfort. That safety and comfort is what makes it possible for all of us to grow, thrive, and face the challenges of the life. That, too, is what the monastery is. Your home is more similar to a monastery than you may think.


Your home (and family) do not need to be perfect to achieve this end. Having peace in the home doesn't mean that the toddler never throws a tantrum, the preschooler never has a meltdown, and the parents never disagree. It does mean that when those things happen, the family always tries to work its way back to genuine peace. It means that if a fight happens, or if someone (in resident two year old, ahem) gets too emotional, we pick ourselves up, dust off, and try again. It means we apologize when we're in the wrong, and forgive, forgive, forgive. It means we give each other space to be imperfect, and to love, love, love. Real monks and nuns aren't perfect people. And neither are you. 

But we do need to acknowledge that our homes are important, even when they're imperfect. We do need to reflect on how best to make our homes into a real refuge, a real place of calm and peace. 

Because, if we can do that, then our homes can become what they are a called to be. We don't need to make our homes and families important. Our families and homes already have infinite importance. In the words of St. John Paul II, "Families, become what you are!"



On a final note...don't forget to enter our giveaway! It runs through Sunday!


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