Rituals- toothbrushing and facewashing before bed, coffee and the paper at 6am- soothe the body and nurture the spirit. But the ritual of prayer, it does something even deeper.
It feeds the Soul.
Everyone has rituals. Even the people who claim they hate ritual.
Everyone needs rituals.
I used to be the maven of the bedtime ritual around here, but since moving here, myhusband has taken over. A big benefit of his new job is thathe is here, every night. Without exception.
So John Paul and I have a magical hour to ourselves, while Dad gentles Brother and Sister off to dreamland. After his bath, John gets tucked into his second-hand jogging stroller with a warm blanket (the nights here are already growing chilly), and off we trot.
I have a Rosary swinging from one hand as we glide down the hill to the park. A park here isn't much more than a patch of grass with a track around it, a far cry form the acre-after-acre-parks of our hometown, but it's all I need tonight. There are no park lights or street lights around here: when night falls, night falls.
And being in the mountains, the earth is dark while the sky is still bright. Prayer is effortless under the circumstances.
With every step the cares of the day peel away from my soul, a little bit more and a little bit more. The darkness feels like a pool where I come and wash my spirit.
The love of the Triune God is burning there, here, within, waiting. And when the words of the prayers open me, and I connect with that furnace, the past and the future are burned away leaving only the present moment. Flooded with Grace.
John Paul never lets me get too lost in my prayers, as he eventually points up the hill and cries, "Home! Night-night!"
And so we go.
Generally speaking, I don't 'find' time for prayer. But a priest told me once, you must avoid occasions of sin; you must create occasions of grace. Just as I order the environment for my children towards joyful learning, I strive to order my own environment towards prayer. We have little rituals- prayer before meals and each time we get into the car. In fact, I used to use my driving time as my Rosary time at times when home was so busy and so hectic, I'd fall into bed exhausted and realize I'd barely nodded at my God all day. Unfortunately, there just isn't anywhere far enough away from you in a small town to get much prayer done on a car ride!
This half an hour tryst with my stroller is my own answer to a mother's busy life, for now at least.
"The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread."
"Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer."