The day has begun with the early summer sunrise. A cry woke me earlier than usual, so I find myself with time to spare. I prepare my mind for the day ahead, but I can’t get past the next hour. My day depends upon what I find in the crib… crusty-eye that daycare nurses will label pink-eye? Or a clearer eye that has already been cured enough by the eye-drops from the previous night to allow us to pass by without detection?
With the blinds opened and the lamps turned on, I find him with his smile wide across his face and only one eye fully able to open. I clean it off and put in new drops. I place him down on the kitchen floor. His little noises and calm motions are lost as I wrestle with the competing questions in my head… Will it get worse and then I’ve taken him in to daycare, only to get called back? If he is sick, how do I grapple with how he yearns for his mother while I have chosen work today? If he is sick, how do I accomplish all that must be done in the office? What about the meetings I must reschedule?
I keep looking back at his eye for answers. I am stuck. I want two different answers. After a summer full of traveling for youth ministry, I yearn for it to be pink-eye so that I can have a day at home with my boys. After a summer that keeps me away from my desk, I yearn for it to be healed so that I can get everything done at the office. I yearn for two competing realities that cannot both come true.
Muddy are the waters of parenthood. My mind feels cloudy and the right path ahead is impossible to discern. Waves of complexity swallow me as I recognize there is no “right” answer for which I will find. In a previous lifetime, I gave all I had to work. Now I have a life calling in parenthood that demands everything from me. And yet one does not cancel the other out.
These streams are ones I have felt called into… growing and supporting little lives and forming and transforming young people as a youth minister. And yet the streams of calling are surrounded in reality by the mounds of dirt of either side – the logistics getting to and from daycare, the limited hours in the day, and inability to be all that my family and my church needs. There are the mornings, the days, the months, the seasons that the stream and the dirt combine to create the muddy waters in which I find myself. The times when calling and reality meet to create clouds of complexity and ambiguity.
Standing still in my kitchen while he plays, I give up hope for the “right” answer. Instead, I pray for salvation from the muddy waters. I pray for the hand to pull me out of their grasp. And in so doing, I remember the Truth and the Truth re-members the life within me.
The Truth is that Clarity and Ease are not the gods which I worship. The Truth is that there is more to life than achieving the pre-conceived cultural images of successful motherhood and ministry. The Truth is that disturbance in the waters is not a sign that I am standing in the wrong place.
The Truth is that the muddy waters are where I find Christ. With a hand held out next to me in the waters, I find that Love-Made-Flesh is not calling to me escape to dry land – thereby leaving behind either calling to which I have received. Rather his hand is the invitation to trust once again. It is the invitation to commit once again. It is the invitation to be baptized once again.
So hand in mine, I am baptized again into this messy, uneasy, unsettling life as mother and minister. Fresh from the waters, I look down at the beloved child at my feet and I trust that the answer I make this morning is but one step along the way in this beautiful but brutal life we lead. I trust that the waters of calling will last longer than the dirt of today’s difficulty.
Smile wide on his face, his eyes tell me the answer I need – it is time once again to pause and give thanks.