There are many strands I am trying to follow, without becoming unravelled. It has been very close, many times, the past week. I’m writing before I am through this, before I feel calm, because that’s my thesis–to invite the process, the “not yet,” the gray, into the conversation and into the light of others. Into His space. Even here, can I hear? Let us draw near, to Him and to each other, here in the mess. Somehow.
It has been a mess. We’re researching language school, flights, safety for the kids. When, Lord, when? I’m learning things as I go, as I teach, as I e-mail, but haven’t sat with them as I had intended. The printer is broken. The preschool and I are in round 7 of phone tag. I’ve been having balance issues and headaches that are strange but major problems have been ruled out. There have been planned, referral-permitting appointments. And then there have been unplanned. Our youngest, struggling with seizures while Dad was out of town. Then an upsetting, common accident of toddler hand grabbing hot coffee landed us in the emergency room. A rainy day trip with two disgruntled kids to a Walgreens with sale tags up but not saved in the computer, everyone’s defenses up in line. Dental problems, tight pants, half-finished conversations. Upsetting news from dear ones. Spills on the floor. Deep griefs followed by petty ordeals; confusion on the scales.The bananas are too ripe. Why has the social worker not called? A bassinet, sitting, waiting. Life whizzes by. I have no idea where the remote is. I look outside to our freshly swept patio and see ugly leaves and sticky blossoms and balls and loose toys blown and scattered about. Murky puddles.
Yesterday, my husband was singing James 1:2 incessantly. If you know him, know us, this probably makes you grin. A rousing rendition of this verse is on a children’s CD that had been playing in the car on the way home from the hospital. He likes to repeat things. I like to complain about things. The juvenile tune wasn’t falling gently on me and I didn’t appreciate the reminder. Count it as joy when troubles come your way? Knowing that the testing of you faith produces patience? I don’t know that. Not in the way that when I am in the thick of it, I am comforted by the promise. Nope. I may know it on the other side, on the outside–the side that this side is up against, leaving me irritated. But I know. I know: this is the side that matters. It has always been the truer side. And this is the side that has been my camp more often lately than not. James 1:2 is a shelter. When I am wet, I doubt that desiring, willing, contemplative prayer when there is screaming, from my bones, from my kids, is going to happen. Grasping for something, even the sunlight, a dandelion, even a song, to say thank you, to interrupt the no-thank-yous, is the manna in this camp. Comforting others when I myself am teary, without pretending, without hardening, is coming to terms with where I am, not forgetting where they are. Remembering, we really are just visiting.
Eventually, I come under the shelters offered me, from ancient times, other saints, the One who presents His brother to His mother. I track in the murky puddles but He looks at the heart. Here, in the unravelling, in the mess, we draw near. I drip the mess and my feet are washed.