For bone-weary Burb Moms who need to recollect themselves and reconnect with the Divine.
This week’s encouragement is to engage in the spiritual practice of temperance. Temperance is one of those old church words you don’t hear much these days. Essentially, it is the practice of moderation…which is admittedly a challenge as I stare down the Haagen Dazs Dulche de Leche…but I digress.
In these days of extreme everything, from makeovers to nachos, it is important to consider temperance. As mothers, we are the primary teachers of temperance from the time our children are toddlers and we must limit their sugar, until they are teenagers and we ask them to display a modicum of self-control over their behavior, dress and sexual activity. Yeah….uh, we need to model and teach temperance, ya know what I’m sayin’!
Right about now we’re at the point in the summer where kids complain they are bored. As the allure of video games, playing with the neighbor kids, and late curfews begins to dissolve into tedium, they crave something fun and exciting and different. Try quoting Evelyn Underhill to them. (It won’t help them so much as it might entertain you…moms get bored too.) She was an Anglican spiritual writer and retreat leader. She defined temperance in her book The House of the Soul as “one of the ‘ground floor’ virtues in the house of the soul, the balance of the ordinary life.” It means God is found in ordinary, everyday circumstances.
The demand for temperance of soul, for an acknowledgment of the sacred character of the normal, is based on that fact–the central Christian fact–of the humble entrance of God into our common human life. The supernatural can and does seek and find us, in and through our daily normal experience: the invisible in the visible. There is no need to be peculiar in order to find God. The Magi were taught by the heavens to follow a star and it brought them, not to a paralyzing disclosure of the Transcendent, but to a little boy on his mother’s knee.
If I constantly seek “extreme” and fill my senses with hyper activity, might I miss God who can communicate through the simple and ordinary? Perhaps I can feel more fulfilled if I have, do and be less.
Evelyn reminds us:
How steadily temperate and central in its emphasis is all his teaching: full of color and quality of real life free from the merely startling, ever keeping close to our normal experience. Sowing, reaping, bread breaking, keeping sheep; in these the secrets of the Kingdom are hid. Jesus does not ask his disciples to speculate on the Divine Nature but to consider the lilies. It comes to the same thing and is more suited to our powers.
The good news is that God’s lessons are so simple a child can comprehend them. So, I wonder…where are the secrets of the Kingdom hidden in your experience? Is it in caring for home and family, grocery shopping, the drive in traffic to work, the tasks you perform for customer care, or the troubleshooting of recurrent problems? The good news is that whatever your daily experience, God is there and avails Himself to you? We can practice temperance of soul, looking for God in the normal, moderate and ordinary. I wonder what simple means He’ll use to make a Divine Connection.
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