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Lessons from a sleeping babe-in-arms


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Grace Emily Stark - published on 11/05/17

To say that my mind and heart have been restless lately feels like an understatement.

This past Sunday, somewhere around the time of the Gospel, my 8-month-old son Gabriel fell asleep in my arms. This being a somewhat rare occurrence, I couldn’t help but look down in wonder and awe at the perfect little face nuzzled against my chest, with its lower lip gently puckered in total trust and relaxation. The restful abandon of my son caused me to reflect on some of my own restlessness of late, and it brought to mind the St. Augustine quote from his Confessions, “… for You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.”

To say that my mind and heart have been restless lately feels like an understatement. Like many new moms, I have been struggling through the many growing pains of becoming a mother – primarily, the pain of dying every day to my selfishness to meet the needs of this demanding little person we call Gabriel. Coupled with the fact that we are still settling into a new home after a recent move from overseas, there’s perhaps little wonder that I’ve found myself struggling with the laundry list of seemingly insurmountable tasks set before me. From the monumental task of helping to raise this new little soul that God has entrusted to me and to my husband, to the more menial tasks of running a home, I’ve found myself becoming overwhelmed and exhausted with the responsibilities of my daily life, with the nagging sense that I am failing at it all. What’s worse, between all of grocery shopping, cleaning, planning and preparing meals, arranging our social calendar, and so much more, daily prayer has become another box to check on an endless to-do list of tasks that I can’t possibly hope to accomplish, compounding my sense of exhaustion and failure.      

Read more:
Pope confesses he shares Therese’s weakness, sometimes sleeps in prayer

But, for one precious moment this past Sunday, these tumultuous thoughts and feelings cleared. As I sat in the pew surrounded by the peace of the Liturgy, with my son sleeping so trustfully in my arms and the words of St. Augustine ringing in my mind, God granted me the sudden realization that this is what He wants me to do, too: He wants me to abandon myself, with all of my worries, my cares, and my to-do list. He wants me to do this so completely, that like a babe-in-arms, I can simply rest within the comfort of His embrace. In that moment, I realized that God wants nothing more – and nothing less – from me, than the radical trust it takes to rest while someone else stands guard. As I looked down at Gabriel in all of his helpless, restful abandon, the fierceness of my love for him only intensified as he grew heavier, and as my arms grew weary. And here, God granted me another realization: there is no love more intense than His love for us, and although His arms ache to hold us tighter than anyone else’s possibly can, His will never grow weary of the task.

To rest at Christ’s feet or in God’s arms – to “choose the better part,” as Jesus Himself puts it in the Gospel of Luke, putting aside my overactive inner Martha, to embrace my latent, inner Mary – takes a trust so radical, so complete, and so pure, that it took my normally very busy 8-month-old to model it for me this past Sunday. In the form of my sleeping son, God showed me that the One who needs no rest only desires that we rest completely in Him.


These two prayers / reflections can further help you to abandon yourself to God:

Jesus said there is no better novena than this one, and it has only 11 words 

Praying this litany will give you peace about the past and future

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