I come upon him, and he doesn’t stir.
It’s five minutes to bedtime…five minutes to the tucking in.
His bare shoulder shines in lamplight; his small body an island in the middle of the bed.
He still doesn’t look up.
the one who used to interrupt nightly readings for impromptu puppet shows; the one who rolls maniacally on the floor while brother and I snuggle close under covers during nightly Bible readings–
This child is lost in a book.
I kneel beside him and rub his back…let fingertips gently tickle flesh. I watch as the story glides across his face… word storm.
“Are you ready to pray?”
I ask most reluctantly…loathe to interrupt this magic.
“Just one second,” He flips the page. “I just. Want. To finish. This chapter.”
I sit silently beside. Wait.
When finally he closes the book he must tell me about what he has read. This small voice rises and falls, caught up in the retelling.
This is a good story.
I sigh my happiness as out goes the lamp. Lay this body down, wiggle into him. He presses self up against me, takes his hand and places it on my cheek. He did not wash his hair tonight and it smells like skin…warm and alive.
The sacred words are shared, and he asks the inevitable.
“Will you stay with me a little while?”
I cannot move from this place of life’s sweetness, so I do…stay. Even after his breathing turns slow and even, I stay.
Awake in the dark, moonlight falling through window, holding this child in my arms…I am stilled. Gratitude overwhelms and I wonder yet another time at the bottomless well of God’s generosity.
I take one last sniff of him before I get up, check on brother in the next room, and head downstairs.
I am thinking about the story we are writing.
Each day a page, each season a chapter.
I’m just trying to reach the end of this one.
I remember my son’s face as eyes devoured words.
When last did I relish this story in that way? I realized this morning that my dawn prayer was laced with dread–Oh, Lord, help me get through…
No eager turning of pages, no animated retelling of these days.
And why? Why, when there is beauty everywhere?
Because I look, but I don’t see. Each passing minute is merely a bridge to the next one.
On the way down the stairs my prayer changes. On the way down the stairs, I step into this story. On the way down the stairs I join with my life.
To look and really see. To be here in this moment. To relish each page before it is turned.
This is my prayer for the story of life.
This is a good story. Maybe even warrants retelling.
But we won’t worry about that for now. We’re too into the words on this page.
One page at a time.
For more on joining, read our latest book club post over here.