Yesterday, we attended our meeting with all of our children. As we settled into silent worship, I began my work. My daughter sits across the circle from me. My older son sits beside me and my baby is on my lap. This week was my turn to mind the children so there was little chance of a repetition of the conditions that inspired me to speak at the last meeting. Instead, I spent my time observing my little ones. It is amazing how much a mother can say without saying a word. I look across the room to my daughter and with subtle nods or shakes of my head, with small, silent gestures and facial expressions, I tell her that she must be still, that she is doing well, that she must sit for just a little longer. Meanwhile, I hold my ten year son's hand squeezing it to show him I appreciate his patience or that I wish him to stop wiggling. As I monitor the older two, I breastfeed the toddler, shifting my own body to support his weight, watching him to see that he is content. I watch their bodies and faces to judge how much longer they can stand being so still. I can see what is stirring in their young souls. I know when they are restless and when they are at peace. I find joy when they answer my questioning smile with gentle little smiles of their own.
Time passes, fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, and we are still still. My daughter has left her chair to fetch a straw from the coffee table across the room. Later she tells me she just had to move because without her crocheting, she felt restless. My son yawns a little too loudly a little too often. So far, the toddler is content but shows signs that he may soon tire of the breast. I shift my weight to better support his head. I shake my head and my fidgeting son and motion for my daughter to sit. But I'm proud of them. These are minor interruptions. In earlier weeks, we lasted hardly five minutes before I had to usher them out. They are learning to BE. This is what I hoped. After half an hour, I decide to take them out of the room for our First Day School. We discuss Judaism and chase squirrels in the yard.
Throughout my worship service, I do not hear from God what I cannot see in my children's faces. This week, there are no lofty messages, no revelations. Motherhood ties me to the earth. Some would say that it interrupts my channels to the sacred. In fact, well-meaning brothers and sisters in my meeting express concern for me that I must spend so much time with the children and so little time in waiting worship. But I do not need to wait. I am living in the midst of sacred energy. I see God all around me. I am a Pagan Mother. I draw Her down into my body as I sit with child at my breast, as my daughter looks at me with her large, wise eyes and signs, "Mother." I draw God down when my son, ten years old and nearly as tall as I am, squeezes my hand reassuringly and shows me a glimpse of the man who is emerging from the boy I bore.
They sit because I ask them to. They do not yet understand but for me, they will do this next to impossible thing. They are there for me. And I am there for them. ----Because I want my children to grow in a community committed to peace. Because I want them to find a quiet space in their souls beyond the snares of corruption and fear. Because I want them to find solace in joyful silence when I cannot protect them from pain. They do not understand these things but they quietly wait with me, full of trust and love. And so, as I watch and shepherd them, they lead me closer to God.