Back to School and Back to Soul

woman-praying-bible-featured-w740x493This week, my older kids head back to school. That leaves me home with half as many kids, one of whom will be starting half-days in September.

This time of year is always exciting for me: I have an inner love and longing for all things school supplies. Fresh notebooks and unsharpened pencils scream “HOPE!” and “FUN!” to me, and there’s nothing quite like new tennis shoes (even if they’re not mine) to make the world seem conquerable.

In my part of the world, mid-August is usually hot and steamy, but the days are getting noticeably shorter and the hope of cool is close. We’ve had a pretty cool summer overall this year, so we’re not sweating quite as much as we normally would. Even so, the promise of bright colors and harvest linger ahead of us with all those new pink erasers and glue sticks that are tucked into backpacks.

For the last few years, summer has been a time that’s ruined challenged my prayer life. In some ways, I love the freedom from the strict routine, but I mostly miss it. And this year, with a new baby in the house, my prayer time suffered even worse than usual.

It’s hard to get up an hour earlier when you’re only sleeping in two hour (or three hour, if you’re lucky) stretches. It’s difficult to stay civil with the other (well-rested) people in the house for the same reason. And yet, without the grace of that prayer time, I’ve found myself crying out to God a lot differently (and being quite a bit crankier with those other people).

I’ve been here before, in this “I can’t get up early to pray like I want and need to” cycle. This isn’t my first rodeo, as the saying goes, but in some ways it is. I’ve never had older kids at the same time as an infant, with the tremendous help they bring.

My prayer time this summer has happened more during the odd moments of nursing the baby while the big kids are busy or hiding in the bedroom with him while he’s settling down for a nap. For the first time ever in my life with an infant, I’ve been able to get showered consistently, and that has turned into a refuge of prayer as well.

A few weeks ago, I had a morning where I found myself refreshed and ready to pray: the house was silent, it was still mostly dark outside, and I had a chance to pray AN ENTIRE ROSARY! (I basked in it, let me tell you!)

Now that the ten weeks of summer are over, though, and the baby’s sleeping a lot more consistently, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m looking forward to the hope of this early morning prayer time turning into a regular part of my routine again.

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