I seem to have finally gotten an inkling as to why I've been going through a spiritual dry spell these last several months. For one thing, motherhood has been exhausting all of my energy, energy that I was previously able to devote to philosophical reflection and time with a faith community. For another thing, as an introvert, I require solitude in order to recharge. In spite of the daddy-and-me time Alex and Maya spend together at least once a week, those two or three hours just aren't enough for me to get into a frame of mind that would require true spiritual pondering.
For one thing, the first twenty minutes or so of such alone time is generally spent taking a shower without worrying about a crying baby. Then there are "computer errands" as I like to think of them - things I need to get done that I just can't do while caring for my daughter because she insists on "typing" right along with me. So balancing our budget, updating blogs, or organizing family photos, these are the sort of things that simply cannot be done when I'm "on" with Maya. And they seem to essentially siphon most if not all of the alone time I'm given in any one sitting.
I long for a spiritual retreat, as was my habit, where I have time to slowly, at my own pace, purge the worries of daily life and ease into a quiet awareness of God's presence in my midst. Yet at the same time, the thought of leaving my daughter for even a weekend makes me miss her right away. I miss her the moment she and Alex step outside for my weekly alone time! How could I concentrate on my spiritual interior life if I'd be distracted by thoughts of what my daughter was doing and how I want her near me.
Essentially, I think I'll just have to ride this out until Maya is old enough to play alone quietly by my side, so that we both get all that we need - physical closeness but also time to do something that doesn't require the other's direct involvement.
For now, I'm going to try to "fake it till I make it", as bad as that sounds. I have to accept that I can't figure out such grand questions as the nature of God "in my spare time". If I hadn't definitively figured that out in the 35 years I had to myself before giving birth to my daughter, what makes me think that I can figure it out now? Besides, if I was content with the limited amount of understanding I had about my faith before, why is it all of a sudden not enough anymore?
Perhaps I'm feeling the pressure to do right by my daughter, and I want to believe what I am teaching her on the faith/religion front. I don't want to just let her figure it out on her own. I'm not ignorant of the fact that we made a big stink over baptizing her into the Catholic church for a reason. I did not think all of God's truth was found in the Catholic church when I chose to stick with the faith of my upbringing. That was because I do not think truth can be captured in its entirety by any human institution. And while I'm pretty confident that I know what I do believe, I find it disheartening to not have a community of like-minded believers where I can strengthen that belief and pass it on to my daughter.
Ok, so I'm thinking baby steps are in order while I wait until my daughter is old enough for me to get sufficient alone time to start to recapture my previous fervor for faith. For starters, I need to increase my prayer time. I generally reach out to God each night with a request to keep my baby safe, and to thank Him for her and the other blessings of my life, but that takes all of a minute or two. The rest of the time, God is merely a constant fixture in the background of my mind. I know He exists. I believe that He has been there for me when I needed Him most. Yet I find it incredibly difficult to relate to Him right now because I am getting such conflicting ideas of what He's like from the various belief systems that are out there. They all seem to make a little bit of sense.
I've written off the idea of attending a Unitarian Universalist church because, having attended a few UU services, I find them to be mere social constructs of well-meaning people gathered for the sake of gathering in a community, but with no concrete unifying belief holding them together.
And I'm on the fence about Quakerism. I've only ever met one Quaker I didn't particularly like, and that was because he made an off-hand remark about Catholicism. Otherwise, I know what Quakers stand for, and I am 100% in agreement with them, yet there is still the fact of the various "types" of Quaker meetings. There's those who are essentially evangelical Christian in nature, and there are those that are more generic spiritually, and presumably everything in between. I find it funny that I was put off by the idea that atheists can attend and feel a sense of belonging in the more liberal Quaker meetings. But why should I? How is this any different from in-name-only Catholics sitting next to me in a pew at Mass? Or maybe I make traditional faithful Catholics uncomfortable, because they see my presence as watering down their tightly held beliefs?
I am going to attend another Quaker meeting. I think it will be what I need to reconnect with God. I don't feel God's presence at Mass anymore. Perhaps because part of the time I'm distracted caring for my daughter. Perhaps because I'm fixating on the literal words I hear at the pulpit, provided for ease of digestion for the masses, when a more metaphorical understanding may be in order (like I'd be exposed to at a retreat).
I'm going to revisit this idea with Alex. We have talked about truly honoring the Lord's Day, and so I think we should go to Mass as a family, and then they should drop me off at a silent Quaker meeting while they have daddy-and-me time. Perhaps that hour of silence, planned into my day with no other errands or priorities to distract me, may be just what I need to kick start my spiritual life once again.