It’s been a long time. I stepped away from the world of homeschoolers and park days and getting together with other Catholic homeschooling moms 3 years ago. I have missed them ever since. It was hard, grievously hard, for me to walk away from these friendships. So why would I do such a thing? At the time, it was the peace of my home versus homeschooling. If I stepped away from homeschooling, I stepped away from my friends. I chose the peace of my home. I chose my husband and my children over close Catholic friendships. I’ve asked God for close Catholic friendships for my family and myself ever since. We’ve found none. Now we’re back to homeschooling and it’s been a lovely trickle of social coffee get togethers at my house with a few mom friends while their kids and mine play. My spirit has been greatly restored and refreshed by this contact with other moms who are my friends. But there is a danger.
The danger is in familiarity. Thomas a Kempis talks about this in “Imitation of Christ”. This is how he says it:
“We think that by getting together with others we will be a comfort to one another and find relaxation by discussing the things that burden us; but the end result of all this gossip about things we like or dislike only leaves us with a guilty conscience.”
One reason we returned to homeschooling is that we lack community with fellow Catholics. We can’t find it. We’ve found a tidal wave of secularism everywhere else we’ve looked. After walking through the desert for several years, finding very little to refresh ourselves in the way of fellow Catholics, friendship, fellowship, and a mutual love of our Lord and his Church, we have felt a great deal of joy in anticipating the lively return of these edifying relationships to our lives.
Already, I have been disappointed. I thought I had learned this lesson long ago when I was in high school. I thought I had a good grasp of it even now. If we place our hope in anyone or anything but God Himself, we will surely loose our peace and expose our soul like a boat tossed about in a storm at sea. A boat without navigation. Our relationship with God must be protected above all else. Friendship with our Lord is the main thing in life. Our trust must rest in Him. Elsewhere we will find no peace.
Here is what Thomas a Kempis says next:
“But the sad part of it is that all we say and do is for nothing; for the comfort we recieve from others hinders us from receiving the comfort that comes from God.It is better to watch and pray so that we do not waste time in idleness. If you have leave to speak and it is expedient, then speak of God and of those things which will edify.
So we must navigate the waters of friendship with this in mind: that nothing tresspasses our primary relationships. First, our relationship with God. The groundwork for each day should be laid in Him outside of whom everything crumbles. Second, our spouse. Our best friend. Our earthly refuge in this world. The gift of marriage is a great gift. God blessed this relationship in a special way and infused it with His grace. Our journey through this life alongside our spouse is a great adventure always deepening the relationship to one another and to God.
Out of that deepest of earthly relationships is born our children. “Fresh from heaven do we come from God who is our home. Heaven lies about us in our infancy…” Oh the gift! The gift! The gift! Where angels fear to tread, we have been given this greatest of responsibilities. No outside relationship should trespass the sacredness of their home. Too much familiarity can violate the castle of the parent-child bond.
Each home, each family with it’s mother and father and children, must choose how to live. What to do, where to go, how to spend it’s time. Our time is the blank paper on which we draw the picture and write the story of our lives. Itself is a gift. A blank canvas and free will. How shall we design it? Will it be filled with peace? Will it be a place of refreshing and deep love? A place where contentment runs deep? I hope so.
“No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to this Rock I’m clinging.”
Let us get together with friends with these priorities in mind, with the desire to lift one another closer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Such friendship is like water for the soul.
Thomas then describes the best way to conduct ourselves in conversation with our fellow Catholics:
“A bad use or neglect of our spiritual progress makes us careless of what we say. However, devout conversation on spiritual matters is beneficial to the soul, especially when people who are congenial in mind and spirit are drawn together.”
It seems that to enter into conversation without being first recollected through prayer is unwise. It is why our first approach should be to God in the morning. This sets the foundation upon which each day is built. It sets the stage in which the actions are played out. Let us frame our lives in beautiful scenery and be filled with peace as we proceed.
“When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”