I Don’t Want to Miss the Feast

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“If I stop nursing,” I said, the rising tears accompanied by a wave of bottomless exhaustion, “I’m afraid I’ll never sit down again.”

By Kelly Chripczuk

I sat on the couch, a baby under each arm, and prepared to nurse my five-month-old twins. I steeled myself, braced against the pain–the feeling like shards of glass and fire shooting through my breasts – as their hungry little mouths latched on. The fierce latch I’d been so grateful for when they were newborns now filled me with anxious dread.

I’d nursed my older two without problems, but a few months in with the twins I began to experience intense pain. My skin was cracked and bleeding and each feeding was misery. I saw two different doctors and tried multiple prescriptions before finally learning I had an intraductal yeast infection. I spent months downing rounds of oral medications and applying lotions and creams. I searched the internet for solutions. I treated both babies with syringes of liquid medicine, at times giving eight doses a day between the two of them.

Finally, a lactation consultant recommended a cream that required special preparation and I spent hours on the phone looking for a pharmacy that could fill the prescription. One told me I would have to wait two weeks and spend $60 on a mere 8oz, all of which seemed insurmountable at the time.

I sat on the couch and looked at my husband, who kept saying it would be ok no matter what I decided to do. He told me it was ok if I stopped nursing; the babies would survive and somehow we’d find a way to pay for formula. I knew he was right, knew the wisdom in his words and felt his support. But I couldn’t let it go.

Sitting there in those brief minutes between burping and changing, between a dizzying schedule of feedings, laundry, cooking, cleaning and a thousand other demands, I recognized the truth as it came tumbling out of my mouth. “If I stop nursing,” I said, the rising tears accompanied by a wave of bottomless exhaustion, “I’m afraid I’ll never sit down again.”

Surrender

I have a hard time making time to sit, to rest and to enjoy this life that passes like a breath–an inhale and exhale before the kids are grown and gone. By the time the twins arrived, though, I was beginning to understand that sitting is a prerequisite to partaking in the feast of life, an act of surrender that opens us to the beauty and richness of the moment.

I know I’m not the only who prefers standing, running, walking and working my way through life as though sheer work, sheer righteousness, could feed the empty soul. The Bible itself is filled with feasts: heavy-laden tables set before those who sit and dine, and those who can’t seem to bend their knees, who’re unable to settle down and enjoy the meal.

I think of the older brother in the story of the prodigal son. The brother who feels the pull of the feast even in the midst of his anger and envy–the wafting smells, the fire-lit windows, the sounds of music and laughter. The older brother, who, in recognizing the feast, recognizes also for the first time his own exhaustion, who suddenly feels the ache in his bones as he stands, weary and shaking in the darkness outside his father’s house. This brother who’s so hungry, who’s starving for love but cannot swallow; who’s tired of working but will not sit at the table and be fed.

I think of the feast at Mary and Martha’s house, a simple meal made special by the guest rather than the courses served. Martha, fuming and fussing over a never-ending to do list, misses out. But Mary, ever hungry, ever willing to bend, draws near to the table laid out at the master’s feet and sits her soul down there until it’s filled.

I think of the simple meals Jesus shared, the breaking of bread that disclosed a traitor’s heart, and later, the small catch of fish eaten over a smoldering fire that revealed Jesus transformed in victory after having tasted, having consumed his fill of death.

Sitting is an act of surrender, a commitment to be fully present at the table of life that offers so much risk and transformation.

Banquet Table

I’ve never been so healthy, so centered and even joyful than in those months when I was breastfeeding. Those days and nights that were filled with a rhythm of sitting, resting and nourishing. It was a discipline–demanding for sure–and it grew in me an awareness of my need, my exhaustion, and my own hunger for life.

I learned in those moments to let the dishes pile up, to look and see my little ones in all their beauty, to be silent and still. I learned to surrender to the moment, to sit down heavily or quietly at the banquet of life.  I practiced sitting and feasting, soaking in this meal of smiles and tears, of chubby, patting hands and bright, wide eyes.

Every time we gather together around a table, in our bending and settling, in the shift of weight, in the pause before our need is met, there’s a moment of surrender, a moment in which we recognize our need, our hunger; a moment in which we come empty-handed carrying only our desire to be filled.

I know myself, know the draw that work has on me, the unending demand of dishes and laundry and dirty floors, so I’m practicing the surrender of sitting, especially now as the weaning of these last two children draws to an end. Every day I draw up my chair and sit down, hungry, at the table of Life.

I don’t ever want to miss the feast.

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About Kelly:
Kelly Chripczuk’s life was turned upside down with the suprise arrival of twin boys in 2011.  She is a licensed pastor, blossoming spiritual director and firm believer in the power of “little things” to change the world. Kelly now has four children six and under and is very thankful to have the. best. husband. ever. She blogs at:  https://afieldofwildflowers-kellys.blogspot.com/

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Image credit: Sharon D. Pruitt

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