This plaque was right in front of me, so close that I almost tripped on it. But I didn't see it until a friend opened my eyes. "Settle, look down at your feet," she whispered. I looked, I saw, and I knew it to be true.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
The sun washes my skin in spilt shine and heat. The sea cleanses my thoughts with fresh vision. The sand scrubs the dirt that builds up over time in the forgotten spaces.
There is no vacation from grief and no escape from loss. Pain is my luggage that is always packed, and no one can carry this bag for me.
But all of this sun and water and sand have me breathing new life. The salt hidden between my toes and pressed against my skin preserves my faint spirit and renews my wandering heart. The waves shout “hallelujah” with every crash on the shore.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
He gives me this day my daily bread, but I am still hungry. My soul stomach churns knots of worry about tomorrow. The sun sets and I look back to its rising to see how well He fed me throughout the day. Yes, I had enough bread for today, enough strength and weakness, enough pain and joy, but I am not content for long before tomorrow’s hunger pangs rise. The day’s bread sits heavy in my gut, but my soul stomach aches, famished from lack of faith.
I work hard from sunrise to sunset, striving to prepare loaves of protection and provision for the ones I love the most. These loaves are stored up in plans and precautions, each fermented with the yeast of my own timing and kneaded by the gripping knuckles of my own hands. I spoon flour of anxiety and mix water of fear, and before long I am bending and folding the dough of control, confident that with my own two hands I might bake enough bread to fill us for tomorrow and beyond. But these loaves of mine don’t rise, and they rarely turn out quite like I expect. Even when they do, my bread never satisfies me the way that I hope.
My hands are sore from so much kneading. He soothes the white right out of my knuckles as He whispers, “These hands are not made for kneading, but for taking and eating. This bread I give to you may not always satisfy, but it will always sustain.” The taking and eating is the bending and folding that forms loaves of trust, that rise with the yeast of faith to bring forth bread that will never stale. It is fresh every sunrise. “Give me this day my daily bread,” I plea to Him as He washes the flour off of my face with grace’s cool water. The sun sets again while the slow filling of tiny grains of faith quiets the pangs in my soul stomach, for finally I am full.
Friday, July 6, 2012
It was the same every night. About thirty minutes after closing the door to their bedroom, about thirty minutes after exhaling from folding up another day, I would hear his voice. “Jack? Jack?” It was low and quick, purposeful with a hint of sneaky, as he called out to his brother who slept just a few feet away. Jack always found his sleep first, leaving Webb alone to find his fingers in the dark for making shadows on the wall. When silence, yet again, answered his call for Jack, he would whisper, “Night, night, Jack,” this time his voice slow and mellow with a hint of disappointment.
Next began his singing. The words to Webb’s sleepy songs slid right under his door to fill a tired mama’s soul with the last drop of the day’s manna. Sometimes I would close my eyes as the lyrics to “The Wheels on the Bus” and the “ABCs” tumbled down the hall to meet me on the living room couch. But when he lifted his voice to sing, “Jesus Loves Me,” I could not help but also lift my palms to receive the day’s last gift. Yes, it was a gift for me to hold this simple blessing as he held this simple tune. For a mother with the responsibility of three little ones to nurture and to grow, and for a little boy with so much yet to discover and so much still to learn, his words breathed water on any flame of fear. For when Webb sang this song, a song quite common but quite full of communion, he spoke a great truth. God loved us. To Him we belonged. This we knew.
I miss my nightly serenades. In fact, I ache for them. Sometimes the silence at night fills the house with an absence so loud that I wonder if the lack of a son’s song shows the lack of a God’s love. Where I used to sit with hands open, I now want to throw hands up, surrendering to the belief that manna from above stopped dripping when melody from Webb’s room stopped singing. And all too often, I sit and soak in the silence, and the silence is all that I hear.
I don’t know how God will drip song back into my hands. I wonder if His manna will ever taste as sweet without my son here to spoon it into my soul. The fear that I will remain swimming in silence is almost strong enough to stop my palms from opening. But these hands, they were created to look up. Grief and loss try to close them shut and throw them up in surrender, but it is only when left open that I am able to hear the sweet truth in my son’s simple tune. The tune he once sang in our earthly home he now sings among a heavenly host, with no hint of disappointment and in no trace of darkness. “Mama, God loves us. To Him we belong. This we know.” Webb’s voice drowns out the silence. God’s truth sings to my soul, and these hands simply cannot hold all of the manna, as it rains down from above.