Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Dwelling in your house

Evening, God.

I have so much to say and a few hours ago I felt like saying it. Right now I'm wondering when it might be decent for me to climb into bed and my eyelids are drooping at the very thought of it. But I'm going to make the effort. That's big of me, isn't it?

Here it is. Earlier today I read this:

'One thing I ask of the Lord
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.'

Psalm 27:4

I read this and I thought, 'Yes.'  That's what I want to do. I have read this psalm a few times and this was the first time that it leapt off the page and made my heart respond, 'Yes.'

I don't know about the 'One thing I ask of the Lord...' part; I have quite a list of things I regularly ask, but I know what this psalmist meant. I look forward to the day when I simply sit in your house and gaze up at you. I will live with you and I will spend eternity watching and listening and singing and soaking you up. I can't wait.

So on one hand, this is what I long to do. This is what my life aims towards; it's what I'm for. I have this longing because I was built and wired that way. But...and there's a big 'But'... there are a few obstacles before the eternity thing, aren't there?

The biggest one is the need to go on living life until it's time for eternity.

Tonight I made a lovely nutritious dinner for my family that took quite a while to prepare. I asked my eldest daughter to clear some toys from the table (yes, even if they weren't actually her toys but those of her little sister) and to set the table, which she did, grumpily, with heavy sighs. When the food was ready they both complained that their television programme hadn't finished. Eventually we did sit down to eat, but the meal was over in the blink of an eye. A tiny fraction of the time it'd taken to get ready. Elizabeth wouldn't eat her vegetables, Katy wouldn't eat her mashed potato. I found myself clearing pots in an empty kitchen once again and wondering why I bothered.

As Bryan was reading a story to the children I decided to run myself a bath; a rare occurrence in the week as I can always be sure that the moment I climb in to the bubbles one or both of the girls will shout or appear at the side of the tub with some pressing request or grievance. I put in my lovely new fragrant bath foam, I placed a book and a towel to rest my head by the bath and I stepped in.


There hadn't been enough hot water left after the children's bath and two loads in the washing machine. It was a very brief bath. I found myself getting dressed again muttering the word, 'Grace. Grace.' under my breath. Time for bed with a coffee and a book.


I made a coffee, I put my feet up, I picked up my book. That was about the time that the children organised themselves into a tag team and came in alternately for the next half hour with many and varied requests. At one point I even ventured downstairs and microwaved my coffee warm again but it soon chilled for the second time. By the time the girls had conked out in their own beds, my eyes were too wibbly to concentrate and I ended up putting my bookmark back in the book in exactly the same place as it had been when I optimistically placed it by the bath.

How does life fit in with dwelling in your house?  I know that being close to you isn't something that only happens after I die. I know that life is made up of the things like this - the demands of family life, keeping on doing the things that nobody notices, trying my very best not to be devastatingly grumpy and snappy when there's no hot water left for me. I need to get the two things to live together, somehow.


I need so much more of it. I find that I want peace and quiet when the children want attention. They should get the attention, but it's so hard. I know that they will only be young once and if I don't take them up on their offer of a Moshi Monsters' Mission now the invitation might not be extended again. Hmm. Perhaps that was a bad example. I know that a time will come when they no longer want 'just one more story', and yet I find myself resenting the fact that they won't go to bed and leave me alone. And then there's the guilt.

I feel as if my desire to dwell in your house is a selfish one. For me, it sounds great. But just as it wouldn't be fair if I were never around in body when my children need me, it's not fair if I'm continually trying to be somewhere else in spirit either. This is why I need to try to find out what dwelling in your house means, while I'm on the go. While I'm cooking food that nobody seems to appreciate, while I'm stepping on and sweeping up discarded Rice Krispies, while I'm grinding my teeth because there's no hot water left for me.

Sometimes I amaze myself. Katy asks me to lie down with her (again) at bedtime for a cuddle and I find myself sighing and looking longingly at the door because my evening is tantalisingly close, if only they'll just settle - I have to remind myself that my five year old daughter wants another cuddle. That Is Not A Bad Thing. It's the most wonderful thing in the world. Pull myself together.

Does that sound awful?  I love cuddling Katy.  Despite her protestations to the contrary, she won't be wanting Mummy to lie down with her when she's twenty-one, will she? How can I rush her and disappear to do my own thing?  It makes no sense. Oh, the guilt of motherhood. The way it messes with my head.

Some people say that there will always be a tension between the fact that we are not at home here in this world as we are citizens of heaven, which is our true home. Is that it? Or is it just that I still haven't got my head around the fact that I can't always do the things that I want to do at the time I want to do them?  It's all very well seeking to be with you but I have to learn to do that at the same time as the juggling of daily stuff that requires energy and patience when I'm already running on empty. Retreats and Quiet Days are wonderful -I could definitely do more of those - but they're only of so much value when it's the day to day hamster-wheel that needs shoring up by you.

Katy has a mysterious rash and the very lymph nodes in her neck that the consultants are keeping an eye on are vastly enlarged. Probably it's a miscellaneous infection; I know that in children these nameless viruses sometimes manifest with a rash where in adults they don't. She's waking in the night agitated but can't tell me why. She's well in the daytime, no raised temperature, eating well (except mashed potato, it would seem) and is happy and energetic enough. The rash is probably nothing much and the new level of enlargement of the nodes probably only because of the nothing-much-rash. But...perhaps I should tell the consultant?  Watch and wait, I think. Feel free to interject if you have other ideas, will you?

It's a glorious evening and the garden needs so much attention but I am exhausted. I want to sleep. I did want to have a bath, then a read, then sleep, but right now I'll settle for just the sleep. The weeds in the garden are waist high in places and I have a beautiful new plant that is looking for a spot to live. Don't let me leave it in the pot to die before I clear it a space.

So, Father God, show me how to get the balance right. Show me how to find space when space is to be found but not to resent the times when there is no space. Give me grace to replace the bookmark when someone wails and not to look at them witheringly when their crisis turns out only to be a misplaced piece of Lego. Help me to carry on providing meals and coats and dinner money and fill in forms for school trips with a smile even at those times when nobody seems to appreciate the behind the scenes stuff.

Perhaps I'm dwelling in your house when I'm scraping mashed potato into the bin or loading the dishwasher. Maybe I'm gazing on your beauty as I watch my beautiful girls sleep. Maybe lying next to Katy as she sucks her thumb and plays with my hair at bedtime is seeking you in your temple - and finding you there.

Help me to pick up one more set of pyjamas from the floor and locate Scruffy Barney one more time. Help me read one more story. Help me clear up one more mess.

And help me put the water heater on in time next time I want a bath. 

1 comment:

  1. That, my friend, is real life. Practicing the presence of God in every situation--I want that. I want my heart to be alert to Him even when the rest of me is busily engaged.


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