Cheek-to-cheek, our faces squeeze together in the dark as I comfort our youngest in the last bedtime ritual of the night. Ever since he was old enough to rough it in his room alone, we have had this moment at day’s end. The room’s darkness only makes all the other senses increase. He relinquishes any control over his body and simply lets me hold him.
At first, as an infant, he could rest solely on my chest, with my arms just as extra support. Now, almost two and a half, his arms wrap around my neck and his legs haphazardly fold around my sides. My arms squeeze him tight as I rub his back in the quiet.
He whispers, “mommy,” softly in my ear.
He’s done this ever since he learned to speak it. It is not ever followed with any request. It always is just a naming of the moment. It is as if this moment – devoid of distractions, devoid of tasks for the day, devoid of even the need to interact with one another – this moment is the personification of what “mommy” is to him.
In these moments, “mommy,” is beyond just the name for me. It is the word that symbolizes the care, wholeness, and peace that he needs to combat the stress off the day. “Mommy” is his instinctual invocation for peace.
It is morning now and the house is still quiet. My kitchen table boasts crumbs from last night’s dinner but my coffee tells me it is a new day.
I review the lectionary scripture from the week and wonder how it weaves together on this Friday. The disciples’ bickering over what is right and who is right is revealed as the trap that it is. I think about my own ways that I seek out vindication for my own choices, only to find myself paralyzed trying to pass some test that is rigged to fail from the start. Instead, all four passages evoke the same counter-intuitive gospel – that those who find themselves at the bottom of the valley are the ones who actually find God and the peace needed to continue another day. As Dr. Frank Tupper spoke at the end of his sermon, “Either you pray, ‘Oh God, help me,’ or you do not pray at all.”
Then I put all the notes and wonderings away. For even seeking wisdom can turn into task. I realize instead that perhaps the best prayer I can muster is, “mommy.”
Maybe the prayer of utter dependence is the only prayer. Maybe God is more than the “Holy Father” who sits high in judgment and emotionally-distant encouragement. God is Mommy.
Then prayer becomes simply the cry for help and the imagination that takes me to the place where darkness pervades and I am scooped up into God’s arms. Held cheek-to-cheek, we sit together until my breathing slows to match Mommy’s. And as the moments pass and the silence untangles the ball of stress inside, all I can do is whisper God’s name.
Then I know that I have arrived into “the house in which you dwell, and the place where your glory abides” (Psalm 26:8). Then I am whole.