I was actually physically pained to give Norah one of my two copies of Scott Crider's "Office of Assertion" today.
She's writing her Senior Thesis, said she felt she needed to be reminded how to write academic papers, needed to read an example essay.
Of course, Crider is just the thing, so I eagerly took my copies off the shelf and turned to her.
Naturally, she took a book and looked it over then asked a question she has asked at least a dozen times before in situations just like this one, "Can I just have this?"
Neither she nor I totally understood my hesitation this time.
This same thing has happened so many times before and I am usually happy to put the right book in her hands at the right time.
I thought I lived to do so.
"...Yes." I said, finally. But this time, it was obviously only by a force of the will that I got the word out.
"Mom, you have two," she said.
But then she must have recognized what was going on inside me.
It must have been familiar, because she loves her books with that kind of love and guards the bookshelves in her room like Smaug guards his treasure.
I know she is hoarding two copies of some most beloved books up there.
Norah sighed and with a hint of humor, patiently, then even kindly asked, "Which copy do you care about less?"
I answered, "That one, I suppose. This one was given to me by Mrs. Constanza."
So as I gripped the older one given by a friend that I decided I was keeping, I passed her the other book, finally.
But that one also has so many highlights, too.
Then I heard the Holy Spirit say to my heart, "We give our children our best."
I agreed with Him with a silent "Amen" at the thought.
I am usually happy to give my children books, but this time, God actually let me feel a physical pain in the giving.
Of course, I recognized the entire time the book actually belongs in her hands.
And though I did not know it at time, I see that I was probably preparing that copy for her all along as I lovingly highlighted all of the best within it.
What else is teaching anyway, but letting what we have been given pass through us to others?
In "O Sapientia," Malcolm Guite says, "I cannot teach except as I am taught or break the bread except as I am broken..."
Today, for some reason, God let me feel the breaking that teaching is, like a tearing up and portioning out of myself.
I have to trust that there will be enough left for me, too.
Or I have to know that if I am left with a smaller portion, because I have given my daughters what is due to them, that, too, will be God's will.
"This is my body..." Christ said before tearing the bread and giving it out, before giving His body to be broken for my sins.
He, too, had to trust Himself to God and do what was right with what He had for the others around Him.
Maybe He let me feel the pain today so I could recognize His Spirit inside me and know myself better.
I am not as giving as I thought I was apart from His gentle urging.
Or maybe He let me feel the pain so I would simply feel Him nearer in the mundane things I have to do every day.
Teaching is a refining process, indeed, so is motherhood, so is this Christ- life.