Thursday, June 27, 2019
Brie Stoner shares her experience in the Living School as a mother of young children:
I was sitting in the women’s bathroom between sessions and had exactly thirteen minutes before the next talk to pump and dump my breast milk.  Every woman walking by me would smile and exclaim how sweet it was that I was there, ask how old my baby was, and offer some kind of encouragement for the Herculean effort of simply being a mother.
I was so excited to have been admitted to the first class of the Living School and determined to somehow make it work even with a toddler and a nine-month-old at home. But as each day proceeded, the more uncertain I became: sure, I could have uninterrupted prayer sits here . . . here where the meals were provided for me and the dishes were picked up and cleaned by not-me. Here where I slept in a hotel bed (a whole bed to myself . . . just for me, with no one needing me, ever). Here where I had access to these wisdom teachers and a peaceful path through the Cottonwood bosque with a view of the Sandia mountains.
Finally, during one of James Finley’s sessions I couldn’t take it anymore.
“Jim, can we talk about how much harder all of this is when I’m back home? Because I get up sometimes at 5:00 a.m., desperate to have one prayer sit, and it’s like my kids have radar and inevitably one of them wakes up ten minutes later. I mean, where is the icon of the mystic with one baby on the hip, a toddler crying at their feet, cooking dinner with one hand, trying to finish work on a laptop with the other? Because that’s my real life.”
Jim said, “Ok, you be you and I’ll be God. And since I’m God, I’m watching you get up exhausted every morning, and I’m so touched that you want to spend this time with me. Really, I am! It just means the world to me. The thing is, I just can’t bear how much I love you. It’s too much! And so at a certain point I rush into the bodies of your children and wake them up because. . . .”
Jim paused. “Because I want to know what it feels like to be held by you.”
Yes, the interruption is the presence of God that I was so desperately trying to access in moments of stillness and silence. With or without the luxury of stillness and silence, God comes to us disguised as our very lives (as Paula D’Arcy has said). In my case, Jim helped me to discover how my path as an exhausted young parent was the monastery of my own transformation. If I learned to let my heart open enough, I just might begin to recognize each cry, each diaper change, every choo-choo play time request . . . all of it, as the startlingly stunning, diaphanous infusion of infinite love colliding into the small shape of my very finite and ordinary reality. There, at the intersection of everything, is God with us . . . wanting to be touched, noticed, nurtured . . . held by us. All we have to do is behold.
 Breastfeeding parents sometimes pump breastmilk, for example, when they’re not with their child to maintain milk production, and may dispose of the milk if cold storage isn’t an option.
Article by Brie Stoner. Visit thejourneyofbecoming.com to learn more about Brie.