Lent began yesterday. Gabe and Jonathan and I went to church for the 6am service. Gabe likes to begin the season with church in the morning, and though the logistics of it with a young baby and a late night the previous night were awful, I have to agree that it does feel more appropriate. Somehow a Lenten service at 6:30pm falls a bit flat, since you’re already one day in.
BUT, with a baby, a 6am church service doesn’t work so well. When it’s a 6am Lenten (read quiet!) church service, it works even less well. And when said baby only got 8 hours of sleep the previous night (instead of the recommended 11), it just doesn’t work at all.
So I kicked off Lent holding, shushing, comforting, and walking the hall with a baby who alternated between “talking” and crying. Somehow it just wasn’t the same. When you’re getting one word out of three, and focusing on a small child who doesn’t care about the liturgy at all, it’s hard to feel like the service has any meaning. Strike that – the service itself has meaning, but I’m not absorbing any of it. I’m shushing my son and hoping that I can keep him quiet enough for everyone else to absorb it.
Concentration in church services has always been a problem for me. So I don’t want to blame it all on Jonathan. But really, for someone who already has this problem, adding a baby seems to remove all possibility of my ever overcoming it. I get up to the altar and wonder how we got to this part of the service, already.
God’s grace in the Eucharist doesn’t depend on my being able to pay attention, even if this is hard for me, with my Evangelical background, to understand and accept. But paying attention does help me receive and feel and know that grace more easily, I think. And I miss it.
That said, I am glad, glad, glad that Jonathan is here with us, even if he does add difficulty to church services for me right now. I am glad that he can participate in the imposition of ashes (although that is the strangest, and most simultaneously awful and awe-full experience I think I’ve ever had) as well as the redemptive partaking of communion. I am glad that he is a baptized member of the family of God. And I am glad that our parish and priest love and accept babies – even babies who are too young to understand the need for quiet.
Lord, in this season of Lent, teach me to see your grace in the simplicity of daily life – even and especially life with a baby.