Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Finding Joy in the Trying (and Failing)

One morning last week, LilBro asked to "do school" while I was working with his brother and sister. Usually, that means playdough or painting, but that morning, he insisted that his school include pencils and workbooks.

I asked what he wanted to do, and he said, "write my letters." Shocked, but thrilled, I dug out an old handwriting pad I'd gotten at the dollar store a while back. This notepad was filled with pages where the letters were printed in pale red ink, then pale red dots, then a blank row. I showed him how to trace over the pale red letters, positioned the pencil in his hand, and watched him try.

His pencil marks were jerky and jagged as he attempted to control the pencil for the first time. I beamed... so very proud of my little guy's sincere effort.

LilBro was not as pleased. He pointed out all the places where he had "failed." I showed him all the places where he'd succeeded. He started to cry. I asked if he wanted to put it away, but no... not my stubborn child. He persisted. He tried again. Page after page, he kept trying. I kept encouraging. He kept getting frustrated.

And he kept trying.

I was thinking about that experience earlier today. I am learning something new right now, too. For a while now, I've been feeling called to add some hard prayer stops into my day. For the past few weeks, I've been using The Little Book of the Hours, which is specifically created as an introduction to the Divine Office for inexperienced lay people. I used it for about six months in 2008. It worked well for me back then, but was leaving me flat this time.

But I persisted. I was feeling called to try to pray some of the "real" hours, but overwhelmed by the complexity of it.

Then, Father offered to lend me prayer books so that we could incorporate Evening and Night prayers into the retreat this coming weekend. I told him I didn't know how to pray the hours. He told me it was easy... and gave me a quick, five minute tutorial in the sacristry after mass on Sunday.

Ummmm.... yeah. It's easy. Sure, it is. If you've been doing it for 30 years.

I went home and tried my hand at Sunday morning prayer. I made a lot of mistakes. My attempts were jerky and jagged. I began to get frustrated. This was too hard. How could I possibly figure it out?

Then I remembered the joy and pride I felt while watching LilBro bumble his way through handwriting. I realized that my Heavenly Father feels the same joy and pride, watching me bumbling my way through this new form of prayer.

So I kept trying.

It's been 3 days. I am getting a little more comfortable with the prayers, though I still have a bunch of questions, and I'm certain I'm not doing it exactly right (yet). But I'm liking this prayer. It helps focus my mind during my prayer time, especially that post-lunch, early afternoon time.

And when I feel the frustration rising, I remind myself that my intention to spend this time with my Heavenly Father is what matters most... and that, likely, he is beaming down on me, so proud of my awkward and jerky, yet sincere, attempts to grow closer to Him.

1 comment:

  1. Many blessings, yes? your blog was particularly comforting to me this morning, for several reasons, which I'll share if we ever find time. Meanwhile, keep trying and THANKS FOR SHARING!