Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Returning to Bible Study

Lord, You are a shield around me.  You bestow glory on me and you lift my head.” Psalm 3:2

“The cost for childcare is $55.00 for two children,” the woman behind the check-in desk at my church Bible study declares as she waits for me to write the check.  I look up to correct her.  Before I have time to remind her that I have three children, my throat cracks and my heart drops.  I remember.

You are a shield.  Keep walking.

“This is your classroom buddy.  Have fun.  I’ll be back to pick you up in a little while.  I’ll be right upstairs with my friends learning about Jesus, just like you.  I love you.” Jack runs into his classroom alone, without his carbon copy.

You are a shield.  Keep walking.

Talk of God, talk of obedience, talk of strength and servitude fill the room.  Women of faith, women of beauty protect me on all sides.  Bibles are open while insights spill on the pages.  There is laughter and dialogue but I am far away.  My mind is blank and my body is numb.  My thoughts run to Webb.  The last time I came to Bible study, he was right below me, a level away, playing freely.  He was busy using blue and green crayons to color a bookmark that would be passed out at his funeral the next week.  That was another time in history.  My thoughts return to the present conversation.  While these thoughts camp here for moments, they quickly scurry back to memories of the last time I attended this study.  Sadness fills me and I look around at mouths moving, pages turning yet I hear nothing. 

You are a shield.  Keep walking. 

Small group time is dismissed.  I grope my way through faces to find a seat in the large lecture room.  I search for friends, for familiarity.  I find my place, sandwiched between sisters.  The lecture begins and I flip through my notebook.  It’s been untouched since Webb died.  October 19, 2011 is the date written at the top of the last entry.  My thoughts run to that day.  The words of the woman in the video from that morning flood my mind.  “What are you holding onto?  What are you clinging so tightly that you won’t let go?”  she asked us.  The page is filled with scribbles of notes I’d taken from the video.  I answered her question in writing.  “My boys.”  The two words are written large and clear and I hear myself whisper them out loud.  My family; it’s what I immediately thought of when she prompted us to think about what we hold more tightly than God.  Did I pray that morning that God would loosen my grip?  I don’t remember.  Did I ask Him to unpeel each one of my fingers off of my three children until my hands fell open, palms facing upward to Him?  I don’t know.  Didn’t you know, Father, that those were just words but not the condition of my heart?  Though my tongue spoke freely of desiring Your will, my knuckles were white with control. 

You are a shield.  Keep walking. 

Thoughts return to the current lecture.  Reality slaps my cheek.  The leader concludes our time and encourages us to quickly pick up our children from the nursery.  Eyes to the floor, I pray for invisibility and walk to pick up Jack.  He stacks blocks and returns toys to their shelves.  He spies my eyes and runs to the door.  My heart sinks as I look around for another.  Hand in hand we make our way through the crowd of buzzing mothers to pick up Duncan.  Through the rain we find the car.  We drive home in silence for I am tired and my hands are sore from God’s prying the control away.   Jack spots a train track and I’m back.  We laugh as we drive across the tracks, turn around and drive across them again.  One more time.  We make it home, dump bags on the floor and scurry to prepare lunch. 

One foot in front of the other I walk.  My steps are cautious and deliberate, unlike the carefree shuffle of yesterday. I see others with my old shuffle and I both want it back and yet, I hardly recognize it.  I realize that my new gait is becoming more comfortable and I keep walking.  You are a shield.