Sunday, October 10, 2010


No change. Well, that's not entirely true. Overall I am discovering small improvements, like the ability to eat more in one sitting and go longer without food, which really helps me achieve productivity. It's hard to do everything in 30 minute intervals because I had to eat every 45 minutes. But then I still can't have any "real" food, especially after about 4 pm. When I tried to eat some chicken last night at 5 pm, I ended up having a terrible night where I threw up twice and spent hours with my stomach cramping and gurgling dangerously.

It's been hard to figure out what to pray. Jen's recent post on the granularity of prayer has a great explanation of focusing our prayers. Right now, I feel that it's pointless to pray, "Lord, please let this nausea end soon," partly because I don't REALLY want that. If the nausea means my Little Mango is growing and healthy, then good, bring on the nausea. Mostly, though, I feel like it's just going to end in its own time, and praying for it to end sooner is aiming my prayer at the wrong target.

So I've tried to pray, "Lord, give me the strength to endure this with grace." That's slightly better, and I definitely have felt an improvement in my mood and attitude towards this pregnancy. But really, that's a very self-centered prayer. I want God to help me be happy and kind in my suffering so I can gain graces from it and give glory to God. But I'm only 1/5 of the equation here. There are four other people (my husband, my children, and my mother) who are suffering as much as I am, and that prayer doesn't include them.

Mostly, what I do is offer up the suffering rather than praying about it. I know offering up is a form of prayer, so in that sense I am praying, but somehow it feels fundamentally different to say, "Lord, let this suffering go to help those tempted to adultery," than to ask for something for myself.

Still, these are ALL prayers of petition, as outlined here. I am still asking God for something, whether it's for me or not. I've come to realize that a big part of my spiritual dryness right now stems from a lack of a key form of prayer: Adoration.

Because I am trapped at home, I have not been able to attend Mass and bask in the literal presence of God. I have not been listening to K-LOVE as I drive my kids around and run errands. I have not been encountering my friends' stories of God's presence and power in their lives. I haven't even been able to gaze at the mountains in the distance and admire God's creation. I've been missing all my usual sources of adoration, and it shows. I am suffering daily, offering that suffering up, and yet feeling as far from God as I ever have.

I fully understand why monastic communities are careful to balance their days with everything their members need for spiritual nourishment. There are different sorts of prayer times throughout the day: communal worship, honest work, private devotions, study of the Word, and fellowship, all combining in a way that enables each person to receive what they need to continue their vocation. I've cut off a major source of spiritual nourishment, and I am starving.

It became clear to me what the problem was when I did my last Wednesday Fast. Since abstaining from food is not an option, I've been abstaining from TV for the day. That's actually a very difficult sacrifice for me, since I can't read without growing dizzy, I can't move around very much, and I have no major responsibilities. Mostly, I am on the couch, trying to distract myself from the nausea. (In my defense, it's not all Star Trek reruns, though those do factor heavily. I've been watching lots of documentaries on historical figures and science shows on geology and such. After all, I need to have something on the TV that I don't mind my kids staring at, too!) On Wednesdays, though, I deny myself this distraction. Instead, I put on the radio or spend some time sitting outside listening to the birds. And I noticed something remarkable: I felt closer to God even though I felt MORE nauseated. Setting time aside each day for some Adoration is making all the difference.

So I'm trying to be better about reading my blogs and listening to K-LOVE, two forms of Adoration that are available to me at home. And I'm looking forward to the day, a few weeks from now, when I will be better and able to rejoin the community of believers that has been such a source of spiritual strength to me since we moved to Colorado. I miss my parish SO MUCH. That's where I encounter God most forcefully, not only at Mass but through the people I know there. The physical discomfort of my nausea isn't anywhere near the worst aspect of my quarantine. It pales in comparison to the spiritual starvation I've been experiencing as a result of being cut off from the fount of faith that pours out of my Parish. I can't wait to go home again!

Picture credit.


Katherine said...

I'm sorry you aren't feeling better but glad it is for a good cause.

I had a really hard time adjusting, by the time baby #2 rolled around, to not being able to go to daily Mass. In July we moved within 5 minutes of our parish, so I thought, "Now! Now I can get to daily Mass even pregnant with 3 kids in tow." Um, yeah, that didn't go very well. I've finally accepted the fact that this time of my life just makes it too hard to get to daily Mass. But one thing that has helped, is putting on EWTN for Mass in the morning. I get to watch and listen and pray with the Mass. If your TV doesn't get EWTN, it does stream live on the internet. Maybe that would help?

Tienne said...

Katherine: Yes! It does help, definitely. I love that at least I can get the readings and some spiritual nourishment from the homily. I've also enjoyed praying the rosary with Mother Angelica and her sisters. Thank God for EWTN.

Eric said...

God Bless you. You are in my prayers. You might also try WORDONFIRE.ORG. Father Barron has some wonderful homilies that are so uplifting.