It’s been a long day. Preceded by an even longer night. In which I woke, startled by my dream. A telling dream- of projected fears and failures and worries about things to come. And now, here I am again. Ready to head into another night. And then, another day. And on and on.
Sadly, there is nothing new under the sun.
Some days feel like a long string of poorly made sitcoms played back-to-back. Others, an intense drama- leaving me gripping at my seat. Still others have their laudable comic relief, whereby I can find the laughter amidst the everyday scenarios. But some days are like a horror show. And they leave me wondering at the truth that lies within. About what is real and what is not.
Motherhood is like this sometimes. And in spite of our best intentions, these kinds of days are just a poor excuse for cheap entertainment. And that is putting it nicely.
At their worst, days like these make us dearly wish we could switch the channel. And of course, this is not an option. We mothers are in this for the long-haul. And it is tiresome, tedious work. Weeding through to that which is the best and the most sacred in our days. As small a part as that might be. And in doing this: focusing up, rather than down. Choosing to focus our attention- which is pulled this way and that, on those things which are the most worthy. Those things which are precious and beautiful and rare. On those things which might otherwise elude us.
We seek out priceless moments of peace. We focus on the moments that we deem special and significant. We focus on beauty and growth and change and movement. We contemplate. On whatever those moments might be specifically for us. And when we cannot muse- when our tired and aching bodies and minds are completely unable: we let things go. And we forgive ourselves. Realizing there is always tomorrow. Always another day, another opportunity.
To live the life we were given- with confidence and authority. With beauty and grace. With conviction and strength. And all while abiding in the mundane rhythm and flow of our constant days, as under the ever-constant glow of radiant star-shine that is our age-old sun. This is truly being. And it is truly what a mother does best.
I read recently a story that has been told by Max Lucado, best-selling Christian author, writer and preacher, about a lighthouse keeper. The Keeper of the Light was given oil but once a month- precious fuel to keep the lighthouse lamp burning bright. A lamp to light the way for sea-faring vessels and ships looking for safe haven or a reliable means with which to chart their course. But as with those of tender-heart, he received many heartfelt requests from the villagers. Could he spare some oil for a poor peasant woman to warm the family hearth? Could he allow a little oil for another to light his lamp? Still another, could he give a little oil for to lubricate a farmer’s wagon wheel? And to each, the Keeper said a resounding ‘yes’. “Of course he could spare a little here and there.” It was not much to ask, each small request. But in time, the oil supply threatened to run dry. And indeed it did so on the last few days of the month. The lighthouse went dark. And because there was no light to guide and lead the way, the inevitable occurred to the sea-faring vessels which depended on the Keeper to preserve his oils for such a time as this. They crashed upon the rocks and many perished. Shipwreck after shipwreck, and all because of the Keeper’s good intentioned gestures toward those whom asked and to whom he could not answer, “No, not now.” “Sorry, not today.” “I need to preserve this oil for whom it was intended.” The Lighthouse Keeper was rebuked for his unwise choice to lavish the oil. For what it was meant- it’s main purpose and intention was to be conserved. Stored up in preparation. That oil was meant to be saved- indeed preserved for those of whom their very lives depended on it. And now it was gone.
How very much like motherhood, sometimes.
We mothers waste sacred oil- precious energy, on time and tasks and moments that are relatively unworthy of our attention. And rather than focusing attention on those things which are the most meaningful: that is, on ourselves, our families and our friends. We instead waste precious oil on things which fall much lower on our true priority list of life concerns. And in so doing, we run out, waste and exhaust our limited supply of patience, time, focus, attention, energy and stamina. Much like the foolish Lighthouse Keeper, who ran into short supply during times when his resources were really needed.
Oil is precious and must be saved for such a time as when one might need it most. We can never know ahead of time what a day might bring. And by preserving oil, by preserving our precious resources: we preserve ourselves and those we love. We protect ourselves, we mothers. So that we in turn can protect others. And we prevent waste, that is the wasting away of ourselves. From being used up and spent on that which is of lesser importance. On things which are really not all that important.
In the preservation of ourselves, we find meaning and hope. What more worthwhile reason for conservation is there than this?