I am charged with watching the two-year-old by the fire pit; he is mesmerized by the radiance and snap of the flames. I watch as my husband axes clean through logs, making fuel for the fire that warms us in the crisp air. He adds to the pit, and I pull the toddling boy firmly back. This one fire consumes so much of our wood reserve, and the sun is just setting. After more than enough s’mores, the young ones all trail off to bed. Now the adult children gather around the same glow. Yes, their faces amaze me, but at the same time my unspoken concern for each smolders a bit right in my chest. I fear I am being consumed.
Most mothers with whom I share life experience a profound exhaustion from living this vocation of Catholic motherhood, myself included. This counter-cultural, Christ-like call demands continuous adaptation, new discernment at each stage, re-inventing how to meet the essential needs, instilling new habits to flourish, all the while grieving the losses that inevitably come over the passage of time. In the golden times of holidays and celebrations, there is a remarkable out-pouring of self-giving. Still other seasons press us under chronic strain without a glimmer of an end date in view.
In today’s readings, Moses encounters God right in the midst of his ordinary day tending sheep (not so different from tending straying toddlers and sprawling children). The extraordinary miracle is this: the bush Moses encounters is blazing, but not consumed by the fiery flames. God is calling Moses, and that blazing call comes replete with a proclamation from the inconsumable source: Moses is called by God himself, the provider. We read that Moses hid his face in fear. But Moses does not have to rely merely on his own resources to fulfill the call of bringing deliverance to his people. God establishes and proclaims himself as the undeniable authority—as the source of unending provision. Rooted deeply beneath the holy ground Moses finds himself standing upon is the firm foundation of salvation history.
You and I encounter the flaming call of motherhood. We encounter the sacred and the holy when we wrangle a sticky-faced two-year-old, when we read in character at story-time, when we listen to a teen late into the night, or soothe our sobbing child. On this holy ground, do we hear the voice of God, the great I AM, proclaiming that he is our source of all the energy and provision in real time?
Lord, let the fire of your love burn away the fears that we hold tight. When we press our limits, help us to receive your promise of limitless provision. Help us to magnify you as the mighty source of all of our needs. Help us look to you and to resist the temptation to hide our faces in fear. Prompt us with the wisdom to restore with adequate rest. Help us to relinquish overextending ourselves when we feel everything depends solely on us. Help us to rest in your everlasting arms while you replenish our souls. Let your wisdom and strength flow through us as we minister the liberation of love to our children. Let the authority of your Providence be the source of our mighty call.