Image created by artandwords on polypore.com
Follow this link for full image credits
So, I've had a baby. A handful of days ago.
Those sentences are gradually becoming less surreal. Birth is brutal and labour is kind to no-one. Or if it is, I wasn't the exception. Small babies really do just sleep and eat, cry and excrete - all the time, even the calm-natured ones. Everything changes. Nothing changes. All of that is by-the-by. The thing that has really thrown me about this new phase is that I don't know how to pray.
I'm realising that, for pretty much my entire life, so much of my spiritual nourishment has relied on having uninterrupted time to reflect. Making a herbal tea, sitting down to the listen-talk-listen of out-loud prayer. Reading through bible passages, scrawling in notebooks, ruminating. Prayer functions on lots of levels, but primarily - for me - it's about relationship. It's the place where I get to know God and consequently understand myself more clearly. I've thrived on being able to rummage around in my interior at a leisurely pace, learning and rediscovering and being put right.
I don't know how to do that when my mind is too pre-occupied with someone else to listen to the God who whispers. I don't know how to pray when my thoughts continually wander back to the baby I've tentatively set down to sleep. When I'm listening closely to each squeal, just in case it's the one that signals discomfort or tells me the hiatus is up and it's feeding time again.
But I've realised that maybe this experience can be a different route to knowing something of God. The One described as Heavenly Father and more faithful than a nursing mother. The One whose ears are attentive to our cries and who says "before you call, I will answer".
I will find way to pray in this stage of my life. It's completely unsustainable for me not to. But in the meantime, I'm grateful that I'm still cared for by my Creator in a relationship that transcends words.