Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Upon Reflection

It was Socrates who said, "An unexamined life is not worth living." Kat's last post illustrates this beautifully.

A few months ago I began to notice a change in a friend....a good change. I mentioned it to my husband, and he agreed. Our friend shared with my husband over the holidays that a few months ago he started journaling daily, at the advice of a priest. This time of daily reflection coincided with a remarkable change in his demeanor.

Sometimes when we moms are in the trenches, overwhelmed by diapers, dishes and discipline, it is hard to stop and take time to reflect. I know many people like to take stock at the dawn of the New Year, to set goals or make resolutions. And some people go on a yearly retreat. This is good, but there is so much value to reflecting daily. If we just trudge through each day, we miss the meaning, joy and value of our daily lives.

We need to pause daily, even hourly, to reflect. If you take a moment to say the Angelus at noon, this is a great time to ask yourself one question about your morning. For me, I usually ask myself if I have been a model of cheerfulness to my children. A nightly examination of conscience is another great habit. This way we can set goals or resolutions daily, not just once a year.

Taking time every day can also help us see cause and effect relationships. I had a very rough day last week after my parents left town. It was my husband who made to observation that the day after my parents leave seems to be very hard for me. I had not noticed that link, though it makes perfect sense as the boys are out of their routine and I no longer have help around. Now that I am aware of this, I can try to have a very structured day planned the next time my parents leave to get us all back into our routine.

If I had a tough day, I can ask myself if I got enough sleep the night before. Sometimes this may be out of my control (the baby woke up 6 times) or maybe it's because I stayed up too late on the computer. Or maybe I have been slacking in my time of prayer. Taking time to think and pray will help our days to be more full of joy and meaning. These interior struggles to be more Christ-like will not only bear fruit for ourselves, but for those around us as well.


Eileen said...

I really appreciated this little reflection -- thank you.

MargaretJDMom said...

Thank you for this- it is so true! The examination of conscience is so essential. One of my favorite saints compared it to business bookkeeping. The business of getting to heaven is the most important thing there is, so how can we not keep the books? He also suggested the general examination as a mode of defense and a particular examination of consience as a mode of offense. The particular exam can be something like working on a virtue that we have a lot of trouble with...cheerfulness, order, abandonment to God's will etc.

Juris Mater said...

Thanks, Tex! Two things really hit home here: (1) I forget the importance of modeling cheerfulness to my children--it's easier to remember to be cheerful out and about for reasons of my "public" apostolate, so people can see that moms with several small kids are happy; but I really need to struggle harder in modeling charity under my own roof and (2) the first question you ask yourself if you're grumpy is did I get enough sleep. I SO lack discipline in this area, and I tend toward blaming everything but sleep for my moods.

Thanks for this great food for meditation!

B-Mama said...

Great thoughts, TM! I have been ruminating recently on my greater need for reflection, evaluation, and less overall complacency in my life!! I am so grateful to the builders and our readers, who challenge me daily to examine my walk with God and as a mother to see what areas need honing. Iron sharpens iron--and we are doing just that, illustrating lives lived for God as we walk the day to day with our families.

There is no greater challenge for me than to see other godly families walking the straight and narrow. And what's my goal? To raise loving, compassionate little saints, who glorify God in their lives. I need to be doing more reflection if I am to achieve this!!!

Kevin said...

Great post. The church in its infnite wisdom has given us the Liturgy of the Hours which is a way to join in the same prayers across all of the world. There are prayers for morning, evening, night and bible readings. The night prayer said right before bed has an examination of conscience which is the perfect time to reflect on my actions during the day. We try to do this as a family a couple of times a week. Our three year old has even started us leading us in procession around the table mimicing the altar boys he sees in church. Of course he uses his hobby horse instead of a processional cross, but the intention is there. Got to get him a crucifix. A great website with all of the LOH prayers is