Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Sign and A Promise


I never mention it to anyone.  It has always been my own little secret.  But I have a silent plea that I beg up from the dirty floor of my doubting. It is a prayer or a wish born from need to know that all is well and that all will be well with my son living in glory.  It often crawls out of the sadness and the aching of missing him.  “Would you give me a sign, God?  Would you do something, anything, to show me that I can trust you?”  I stand on the bow of an ark, watching the bottom break in the sky, and I want a rainbow.  I want a promise to light the air with color.       

Sometimes I walk through weeks or even months in the silence that follows my prayer.  I see the sun slice through lanky pines on an afternoon walk and wonder, Could this be it?  Could this be God breaking through?  I witness my sons’ hearts slowly knitting together and healing.  I see the stitching in healthy questions and new feelings expressed, knowing that it could never have been my own hands that held the needles.  They have been far too shaky.  And I think, God, are you really binding up the wounded, as you promised?  This has to come from you, right?   Or I find myself howling in laughter with friends and family.  I catch myself loose in joy, freshly untethered to sadness.  I never thought I’d feel this again.  Is it your gift to me?  I am always searching for the rainbow. 

I am so prone to wonder.  My heart is swirled with all kinds of hues of unbelief.  So I often whitewash these gifts as mere coincidences or natural effects of time and growth, independent from a divine hand.

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We didn’t plant a summer garden this year.  We weren’t sure about our housing situation.  Too much was up in the air.  So we tilled the soil of our plot and haven’t touched it in months.  Weeds and grass pushed up through the dirt and now our garden plot looks mostly like a wild wasteland. 

But last week I noticed a bright, green stalk stretching high above the weeds and grass.  This week that stalk opened up into flower.  But not just any flower … a sunflower.  Webb called them sunshines.  He squealed with joy every time he spotted one. They will always be my reminder that a little boy is running wild and free, face forever pointed to the sun.    

Last year I planted sunflower seeds in pots around our back patio.  Some of the seeds from those sunflowers must have been carried by the wind and scattered into the soil of our garden.  This year, one of those seeds bloomed.  Just one seed. 

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I am always searching for the rainbow.  I never stop asking God to show me in secret, little ways that my son is safe in His arms and that the rest of us are in His care as well.  And much of the time, the silence that follows my plea is simply due to ears covered with hurry or busyness and eyes locked in to what is seen. 

But every now and then, the clouds roll back and promise breaks through the silence. A gift is dropped right in the middle of a storm, a gift so clearly given just to me, whispering that all is well.  Sitting on the edge of my garden where nothing was planted but a sunflower grew, I know that I have received the rainbow.  And I am standing on the bow of an ark as color lights up the sky. 



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

When a House isn't just a House


We cleaned out the closets and scraped the baseboards.  We painted the walls and power-washed the front porch.  We carefully piled all of our art and photographs and tucked books and journals into tall, brown boxes.  We tried to rid our house of us in order to appeal to others who might want it for their own.  We were going to try to sell our house.    

I tell myself all the time that a house is just a house.  It’s nothing more and nothing less.  It has very little to do with who I am or who I am created to be.  Like everything that I can run my fingers over, it will one day turn to dust, and I certainly will not take it with me to glory. 

But when I first walked into our house with fresh, cream walls and hardly a trace of all the moments we have woven under its roof, I felt it hard as brick: sometimes a house is more than just a house.  It is more than the bricks and mortar that form its exterior and more than the wooden planks that make up its floors.  It’s more than the square footage or the countertops. 

A house is much more.  It is the fingerprints on the windows from babies using the glass to pull with their wobbly new legs.  It is smudges on the walls from babies turned to boys, running wild laps through the kitchen and dining room, banging into each other and bracing themselves from falls.  It is the early morning creaking of old planks in the hallway beneath tip-toed feet and bated breath.  It is the oak tree out back that sprawls over the yard like a protective mother.  It is the memory of my heaven-boy looking up to find where the branches end in the sky.  It is all of us here, digging into the smallest moments and pulling up a life and a family. 

I can dream about a little bit more space and a kitchen that better reflects my style.  I can dream about a street full of children, perfect playmates for my little ones.  But I would be passing by all the ways that I am living the dream right here, under this roof.  And precious moments would be lost down that slippery, subtle desire for always wanting a little bit more.  But more is happening right around me, banging into walls and climbing out of beds.  More is right here in front of me, settled deep in the walls of a little, brick ranch.

So instead of selling, we are staying.  And now I begin to unpack those boxes and re-clutter our house.  Now I start hanging the art on the walls and arranging the photographs again on the tables.  The new paint will only remain fresh and clean for about another week.  My boys will continue to be roughly five steps away from my room when they need me in the dark of the night.  And the old, oak tree, the one the grabbed my boy’s imagination and curiosity, will rain colors of red and orange in no time at all.  We will all bathe in its shedding for another autumn and likely several autumns still to come.  Moving houses can feel too much like moving on.  Because a house is never just a house. 

All of life is pulled by currents of seasons.  Knowing when the seasons will change and when the tide will roll in can feel like a guessing game.  Maybe this is the right time, or maybe not just now.  Knowing when to move and when to stay, in all things, is sheltered beneath a grace that is deeper and wider than any decision to make.  But I also know that choosing to remain in this house, deciding to watch the leaves fall and the flowers bloom again from our front porch swing, is so comfortable and right, that now, just the knowing feels like home. 




 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Questions


When their hard questions pepper me like heavy rain, I tell them that some questions have no answers. But that never stops the peppering.  I tell them that sometimes we have only little clues that keep us searching.  But little boys want more.  They are hungry for understanding and for making sense of things.  And aren’t we all?

Instead of standing soaked in questions, we want to dance beneath the surface of a River where we understand it all.  We want our hair to float wild and our bodies to feel no weight while deep belief rushes down our skin.  We want to watch all the question marks float away in the River’s current.  But we can only now dip our toes in the Jordan.  We can only now dig our heels in the sand of its banks.  And here on this side of the land that is promised, questions will always hang overhead.   

There was a time when I grasped at big, weighty words like sovereignty and will to try to fill the space of the unknown.  I thought that maybe logic and reason could break down every doubt I had, and make sense of all that I didn’t understand.  As if faith must be completely defendable.  As if faith must be wrapped in a package.   

But now I hear my own sons’ constant curiosity and it sounds like music, sweet and simple.  It sounds like wonder and looks like searching.  And I have been ushered right into that space of the unknown, resting instead in words like mystery and awe.  Instead of always wanting answers, I am now chasing a golden thread of grace that is woven throughout all that I do not understand.  And what is faith if not sung to a tune of mystery and awe while reaching for grace? 

I imagine the moment when I reach that final shore, and look back at all of my questions sinking into Love’s boundless waters.  I imagine the day when all of my doubts are absorbed by Love’s strong arms.  And I can finally drop that golden thread of grace that I’ve been clinging to and begin to look around.  I imagine that all of my questions from standing on a far-away bank will turn to whispers.  Whispers over and over again of, “It’s true.  It’s real.”