The Quiet Years: a guide to embracing the ordinary.
In a world of information and connection, we can be tempted to share every detail of every moment of our children’s lives.
The adorable thing they said.
The Lego they built.
The meal they ate (or refused to eat) for lunch.
Since every moment is precious and important, we feel we must shout it out loud for all the world to know.
The Quiet Years
But Your childhood, Jesus, is in stark contrast to this attitude. The first 30 years of Your life were the quiet years.
Other than a few major events, the details of Your daily life are unknown to us. We hear about Your birth, Your consecration to the Lord, that time You got lost in Jerusalem for three whole days.
But the ins and outs of the days spent with Your family are a mystery.
The Gospels are silent about it.
The one moment of fame from Your youth (when You were preaching to the teachers and they were astounded at Your wisdom…) was accompanied by fear and confusion from Your Mother – what a humble woman!
She didn’t post a pic of You on Instagram.
She didn’t Tweet Your words of Wisdom.
She didn’t push You into the public eye to show off Your talents and gifts as I might have been tempted to do.
Rather, she pondered the moment in her heart.
She kept it close to her and personal. Mary took You back home and continued to promote a lifestyle of quiet humility and obedience. In the privacy of Your home, she nurtured Your talents and virtues, instead of exploiting them for momentary fame and feelings of self-worth.
But this was only one public moment in the course of years of quiet, ordinary life.
When You were an adult, people asked,
Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?
They were really saying: He’s so normal. He grew up like any other kid in our neighborhood…. Where is all this greatness coming from?
Jesus, You were not the star student or sport team MVP.
Your childhood was so typical that only those few benchmark events are known to us today. You teach us that greatness is not only the call of childhood prodigies.
Greatness, holiness and virtue are the call of all those who live an ordinary life.
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What the Future Holds
The absence of details about Your youth also speaks to me about the future. It shows me that childhood is not an end in itself.
Childhood is important for the fruits it produces.
The fruits of Your quiet years, sweet Jesus, are evident from the first moment of Your public ministry.
During a Wedding celebration, the host ran out of wine. Your Mother Mary requested Your divine intervention. She asked You to perform Your first public miracle.
You turned to ask her,
What is that to you and me?
With this simple question, You let Mary know of the imminent rift in Your relationship with her.
You knew that by entering into Your public ministry, You would lose the constant close companionship with Your Mother. The years of nurturing relationship between Mother and Son were swiftly coming to an end, and You showed Mary how deeply you would feel the loss.
My Jesus, even though You were an adult – 30 years old! – You were not anxious to fly the nest. And neither was your Mother in a hurry to get You out of the house.
Instead, it was a bittersweet parting for the good of both and the Salvation of the world.
In this brief exchange, I can feel all the love and understanding, all the unspoken words hanging heavy in the air between You. This incredible relationship is the fruit of the many years spent in the care of Your Mother.
A New Model for Our Family
Your quiet years, my Jesus, hold powerful lessons for me as a mom.
I want to follow the example of Your Holy Family.
Help me to cherish the extraordinary moments of my children in my heart, rather than to push them into the limelight. Give me the wisdom to nurture virtue, knowledge and creativity – not for the sake of showing off, but for the sake of helping my children become the amazing people You call them to be.
Before I snap a photo of their latest art project to post online, I have to take time to celebrate this moment with them.
I need to cherish the extraordinary in my heart.
I need to embrace the ordinary.
The quiet, intimate family moments are the ones that build the character and virtue of a holy man or woman. The times when we do chores together. The morning hours spent sitting around the kitchen table, trying to get through our schoolwork. The lazy afternoons when we snuggle up and read together.
These moments may not be news-worthy, but they are vital to the formation of every child.
Give me the grace to make time for the quiet moments.
Remind me to put my own to-do list aside.
And hug my children.
And sit on the floor and play with them.
Let me not crowd the quiet years of my children’s lives with the noise of overstuffed schedules.
Help me to fill their remaining years at home with so much love, companionship and support, they’re in no rush to break free. I know someday they will leave home and live their own lives, but if that parting is bittersweet, I will have done my job well. I will have imitated Your Holy Family in one small way.
The bittersweet day when they move away will come all too soon.
My Jesus, help me to love my children in these, our own quiet years.
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