Mrs Monk

forget me nots

I forget about God a lot. You’d think forgetting God would be difficult to do. We’re not talking about the lid of the orange juice here: God is huge and everywhere. Yet I manage to do it on a regular basis.

I don’t hate God.  I don’t run about like some ranting atheist, desperate to convince people that I can’t stand God and, what’s more, he doesn’t exist.  I love God and I think I should put him at the centre of my life.  But, I guess, before I put him there, I kind of … misplace him.  I get distracted.  I forget about God.

I even forget about God when I’m doing God things.  I go to Mass on Sunday and I spend forty minutes saying “shhh!”.  I rattle off grace before meals, but I’m thinking “are the kids going to eat this?”.  I fast-forward through the chore of night prayers, desperate to get to the part where everyone’s asleep and I can have some mental space.

I suppose I could put the blame on the pace of my life.  It’s all school run, laundry, nappies, notices, budget, groceries, Book Week, walkathon, lunches, homework.  But that’s not really an excuse – that’s the reason I need God!

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a monk. To spend my whole life in prayer and peaceful contemplation. All that chanting and the bells and the incense. And all that silence! I wonder if I would have as much trouble remembering to put God in the centre of my life if I were a monk.  Can you imagine?  I’m out in the monastic garden, meditating and tending the monastic herbs.  My mind starts to wander – I start to forget God and then – DONG DONG DONG!  The bells ring and remind me it’s time to pray.  Or I’m walking about the cloisters in a bit of confusion – what was it I wanted to focus my entire life on again?  Then I round a corner and there’s a massive great crucifix on the wall – oh, that’s right: God!  Everything I do, everything I hear, everything I look at, everyone I speak to – my whole life would be structured around my relationship with God.

Having said this, I don’t think I was called to be a monk.  Even when you take gender restrictions into account, I know I’m not built that way.  I’m far too extroverted for monk life.  But I wonder – is there something I can learn from the monastery?  Can I take stock of what I’m doing and somehow structure my life so that it can be more prayerful?  There’s an article I’d love to see in Better Homes and Gardens: “Transform Your Home into a Monastery: From Domestic to Monastic in Eight Easy Steps”.  But, seeing as though Tonia Todman isn’t onto it yet, I’ll see what I can do with some vague ideas in bullet points (ain’t nothing like vague ideas in bullet points!).

  • Monks complete repetitive, menial tasks and use them as an opportunity to meditate.  When you’re in my line of work, there is an abundance of these meditation opportunities to choose from.
  • I would like to be more mindful of what I’m filling my mind with.  What do I watch, read and listen to?  Do I find it life-enriching or vaguely depressing?  I could write reams on this, but the short version is that TV as background noise, nasty commercial breakfast radio and any magazine with articles about celebrities losing their baby weight should go. Out.  Not worth my time.
  • Monks get up very early.  I resist this a bit, especially on freezing cold mornings, but I know on the days that I make an effort to get up at least fifteen minutes before the rest of the house, I can find a little pocket of peace in my day.  It would be good if I could find a book of one-minute meditations to work through as well.
  • Monks make it their business to show God’s love to all they meet.  I need to work on this.  Especially when my children are making me want to stick pins in my eyes.
  • Maybe I could get a phone app that rings out with a bell sound for nones and matins and the angelus (I don’t know – when do monks pray again? Lauds?  I think that’s one of them…).  Does such an app exist?  That would be cool.

The other thought I had was to do with my car.  Many years ago, I used to work for a Catholic charity.   My boss was a deeply religious young man, quietly holy, but not in an annoying way.  Sometimes, I would get to use his car when I drove out to give talks at schools.  There was something special about this little red car.  It was such a peaceful haven.  Rosary beads hung from the rearview mirror, sacred music played from the CD player and there was a car air freshener with “incense” fragrance.  OK, so maybe I made up that last one, but my point is, driving my boss’s car was like stepping into a church.  I would arrive at my destination feeling all calm and centred.

So I need to ask myself: now that I spend half my life driving children places (and they spend half their life driving me up the wall), what can I do to make my car a prayerful place?

I’m sure there are many more ideas that should go here.  I hope you share any you think of in the comments (it would really make my day!).

After that, all I’ll have to do is gather these ideas together and, well, do them.  And then one day you’ll see this woman standing at the school gate, all calm and loving and prayerful.  Radiating God’s love to all she encounters.  And it will be me.  Mrs Monk.  The contemplative who cooks casseroles.

It could happen…


26 thoughts on “Mrs Monk

  1. Phdsareoverrated

    I just googled “one minute meditation” – 15 million responses! I think you’re onto something! Perhaps a new blog section: keep calm with Kate??

  2. fallenAngel

    I am very impressed by your funny writing style and your honesty to yourself. To your Mrs. Monk dream: I always had a Mr. Monk dream, but never followed up. Just give it a try as internet monk (as I often do).
    You can even use the archive, meaning to postpone inconvenient schedules. Time zone is UTC+1, ritual is Bendictine.

    1. katelikestocreate Post author

      Wow! Is there anything the internet can’t do? I’ll have to check that out. I didn’t realize different orders used different rituals. Thank you so much for commenting!

  3. Mary Rose

    My lowest moment in the car happened when another car cut me off. For once I didn’t say anything. But my watchful 2 yr old in the back seat yelled out “ASSHOLE HEAD!” Hearing my mouth come out of my little angel made me change my ways. I stopped swearing at bad drivers, and in general. That’s as good as it gets.

  4. jamie

    I don’t know about the car, but I do a lot of praying while I’m rocking my 7-month old. Not just praying he will go to sleep, but for real praying. Oh, and in the shower.

    1. katelikestocreate Post author

      They both sound like good times for a prayer of gratitude – when you’re rocking your baby, gratitude for such a precious gift; when you’re in the shower, gratitude for five minutes of privacy!

  5. Mark O'DOwd

    Kate What you need is a cd that has all the prayers on it per track. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, The Angelus. Finally they have them read by some soothing voice like Captain Jen Luc Picard.

      1. Kathleen Walter

        I just love the idea of ‘transform you home into a Monastery’ magazine article, who knows it might sell….
        I identified with all you wrote. By bedtime I was always so tired and unfortunately wasn’t always totally tuned in to bedtime stories and night prayers.
        My ears pricked up when you mentioned an incense car air freshener – I’d like that – our car needs help🌹
        Mary, I can just see you driving your car and one of your beautiful daughters coming out with that comment- you must have nearly died!

  6. archangelumcurationum

    I am actually planning on entering the monastery in the next two years to become a Benedictine monk. Some things that I’ve found useful in making my life more peaceful include listening to Gregorian Chant (You can find many albums on iTunes and in CD form), saying the Rosary, the 15 prayers of St.Bridget (Given to her by Our Lord Himself), and the 7 prayers of St.Bridget (Given to her by Our Lady). Minute meditations are very easy to find and there are several apps that sound an alarm for when to say the Angelus. You just need to type it in on the app store. The Saint Francis prayer is also a very good one to say. Continue bringing God more into your life. It’ll always be well worth the struggle.
    Domins Tecum,
    Archangelum Curationum

    1. katelikestocreate Post author

      Wow! A real-life monk-to-be! Where is the monastery? Many years ago I knew someone who had spent some time in a monastery in England. Before that I never realized there was still such a thing as a Catholic monastery in the world! I wish you every blessing in discerning your vocation.

        1. katelikestocreate Post author

          That’s fascinating. When I was reading over the day’s structure, I took a lot of comfort in the thought that while I’m soothing my baby girl at three in the morning, there are monks who are also awake and praying to God. Somehow it won’t seem such a lonely time in the night!

  7. Lisa

    Always enjoy reading your posts lovely lady! Okay, here is my two cents worth…

    I have found that writing short Bible verses on little bits of paper and putting them in places I see regularly during the day (like on my phone case, on the car dashboard, in the bathroom etc) helps me to take a moment and refocus on God during the busyness of the day. I also make sure that during the day I do a lot of ‘gun shot’ prayers – one liners that help me stay Christ centered and help me to think more about those around me and see the little ways God is working in my life. Such prayers might be a simple ‘thank you for the nice lady at the shops Lord’ or ‘thank you for my friends laughter’ or ‘please help the grumpy man at the store feel better’ etc.
    When-ever you can try and take moments to read God’s word (you can also get audio Bibles if that helps!). I find the more time I spend reading the Bible the more time I spend thinking and focusing on God. One of my favourite Bible verses which I find really encouraging is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
    Hope some of that helps :-).
    (P.S. Whatever you do, do not beat yourself up about your ‘forgetfulness’! We aren’t perfect and God knows that. Be thankful that He is testing your faith in love, for it is through our trials that God helps us to grow closer to Him) xoxo.

    1. katelikestocreate Post author

      Oh, Lisa, this is beautiful! I love these ideas! I put religious art around the place as reminders, but I never thought of doing the same thing with the Word. I’m going to try that! I also love the idea of “gun shot prayers: holy one-liners!
      Thank you, Lisa, and God bless you: you have such a beautiful soul!

  8. littlerodgers

    I totally understand how tragically easy it is to go an entire day , and when you lay down to sleep you realize “oh God I’m so sorry, I haven’t spoken to you at all today…” In fact my pastor said just yesterday morning that “The enemy’s greatest tool is distraction.” However, I’d like to encourage you…you are definitely not meant to be a monk! If you look at the life of Jesus, He DEFINITELY didn’t hide away in a monestary His whole life. He was out with the people, living life, being a carpenter, going to parties, and loving people every chance He got. Yes, He made time for alone time, just He and God to commune with Him and gain strength and to love on His Father’s heart…but then He simply lived His life with a desire to honor and obey that Father. I don’t know you, but it seems to me from your blog that you are doing good things, loving on people, and your desire is to honor and love Him. 🙂

    1. katelikestocreate Post author

      Oh thank you so much Little Rogers, your comment made my day! Five minutes ago, Harry spilt the last of the milk all over the floor I just mopped and then Annie crawled through the spill. Your comment reminded me to turn to God in those moments and ask for his grace, instead of shutting him out and thinking I’m all on my own. God bless you!

  9. Pingback: Not a God Post | Laptop on the Ironing Board

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