The last day of January drifts down like dandelion seeds—it’s 63 degrees in our valley when I take Lucy Mae for her evening walk. The sun bookends my day—I drove to work at her leading this morning, and as Emily says, she flowed silver to the west as I made my toil under the harsh lights of the hospital. I watch her now, gracefully bowing low with a blush.
We cross the bridge and they are there, looming above. The cold, unforgiving place where steel meets earth. I try not to look, but a sound echoes down from up the tracks and I wonder what they must still be doing up there and the thought wracks through me and I swallow the sob with a prayer. Look up at the sky.
When the boys came home from school today they told us about a terrible accident their bus happened upon. The kind of accident that is a mama’s worst nightmare. And it’s my old nightmare and past wounds start to bleed anew for the pain of another.
I take Teddy to his eye appointment and he can’t get the lens just right and his fists are clenched tight…I feel my whole body clench too. He doesn’t want to do this thing, but I know it’s best for him and I am having a million arguments with him in my head…when I remember.
There is a mama who won’t have her boy tonight.
And the agony of that runs through me and all I can do is pray and my patience is fresh and new. This isn’t the end of the world. And the other mamas who wait with me to see the doctor want to know…had I heard…? Do I know…?
And it feels wrong to talk this way about something so hard, something so fresh…while there is blood still on the tracks. But we mamas, we can’t help it. We need each other during these times. And Jeff meets me so he can take the boys to music lessons and I drive home with contact lenses in my pocket.
And now the sun. Goes down again.
I no longer ask why, I know this world is broken. Am I not studying the book of James? And doesn’t he say right there to be patient in the face of suffering? To consider it pure joy?
I watch the dipping sun make silhouettes out of leaf and branch and I think how beautiful this is—this place of hiding. When I only see the shape, when I only see in shadow…how easy it is to hide. But I know that the true beauty is revealed in the fullness of the thing; in the touching and tasting and the scent. To understand…to know full beauty…I must experience the whole. When the full color flashes light there is beauty—aching, pounding, pulsing, heartbreaking beauty.
There is a promise of comfort. There is the promise of healing. But my stubborn heart is a sponge and it expands as the grief of right now collects in the pores. I mourn with those who mourn and I hear the earth cry out long in bittersweet welcome. I feel the tremble of fear. And we are all one as we mill around this fountain of sorrow.
And isn’t this the hope we hold in our hands? This: that we are never alone…That hope is what we have to give and we give it while bowed low and with trembling hands. And , as Henri Nouwen says, when we willingly enter into the sorrow we deepen the pain to a level where it can be shared. This is not the end.
This is not the end.
And it’s so hard, so frightening, to step out of shadow and full into this sorrow.
with the amazing Jen: