Last year when I had to walk youth through some difficult moments, I grabbed a dry-erase marker and created three columns… what we know, what we feel, and what we say we believe (and must remind ourselves in hard times). As the inauguration looms, I find myself employing the same strategy for the future that looms before us.
To the baby cradled in his mother’s arms,
Feel the warmth. Soak in the affection. Nurture your belonging in this beautiful world. Gaze in her eyes and receive her fierce devotion. This is your birthright. This moment is your true identity as beloved divine creation.
I dream for you a world where all others embrace you the same way your mother does now.
I dream for you a world where you may flourish in freedom of body, soul, and mind.
I dream for you a time and place where others may perceive your tender heart and your endless potential, just by the sight of you.
Even as your mother gazes upon you today, she is preparing for the talk. She will one day have to sit you down on the porch and speak to you about the world as it is. Her heart will twist and turn in her chest as she places a new identity over this first one – black male in America.
In the morning, I ponder it all. The daily tasks await completion. Yesterday’s tasks were hurriedly accomplished, but not finished. The past lingers while the present demands. My mind struggles to hold it all in balance.
And yet the future continues to be there – untouched by my attempts to control and out of reach from the past’s long reach. Christmas is days away and I cannot yet touch it.
The people who have walked in darkness,
have seen a great light.
The bar across their shoulders,
You have broken.
The tools of war burn in the fire,
around which we dance and rejoice.
– Isaiah 9
It will come amidst the noise from the ride, our youngest yelling at the top of his lungs, “Stop sign!” (“top tign!” in 2.5 year old articulation). It is not worry that Mommy is missing it, but instead his pure joy over the sight of it. Bright red with its white border and block letters, when was the last time I cried out in joy at the invitation to STOP?
Amidst the Advent activities at home, the youngest could use a personal stop sign. He mourns each day that he cannot consume the Advent season in one fell swoop – opening every door on the calendar, eating every chocolate piece, lighting every candle, coloring in each day.
“Wait,” I tell him. “You must be patient. Advent is the season of waiting for God’s coming into the world. You cannot rush it.”
“Prayers of the people” that I wrote for last Sunday’s service – words I share so that I might remember them for the times I wait for companionship, direction, or no one.
The house is quiet now, but once the doors creak open, the rooms will flood with noise. Paws will patter in the path after the youngest’s breakfast remains. The oldest will embrace the beloved, “stay at home day,” with pancake petitions and plans for play. “I’m cold,” on repeat, will lead the youngest to be picked up and enveloped in my arms.
The day will quickly turn into a never-ending line of requests and demands. They will be delightful Saturday ones, but commands nonetheless. I will enter fully into my specific role as “Mommy” within our family system.
I continue on the run but adjust the distance. I veer to the left and then up into the trails. Running around the golf course, I feel akin to the golf player. Before too long, they and I will be engulfed in the reality surrounding us. The clouds will no longer be able to hold it in and down it will come.
First they are droplets. Covered by the trees, it is not my arms that feel it first, rather my ears take in the sounds. Pitter patter along the ivy that surrounds, the wild plants that roam, the leaves overhead.
Rounding the corner, the trail runs parallel to the interstate in the valley cut-out amidst the park. The cars receive the droplets while the drivers drown out nature’s music with their own choices of soundtrack. Over the secret bridge, I arrive back on the other side and I am closer to home.
The rain droplets grow. In size. In weight. In intensity.
The wind picks up and papers flutter. That which holds no weight finds itself floating and shifting. Moving from simply a breeze, the winds increase and become a united force. A great gush from the skies funnels down and circulates itself. It begins its work of not just shifting and shaping but dismantling and destroying.
The funnel encircles the known structures and that-which-has-been becomes a pile on the ground. As the wind softens and fades, the brick wall has now returned to its former life as building blocks.
That-which-has-been now is that-which-will-be.
Soft green bundles hang outside our upstairs window with stringy tufts dripping below. Our grand tree in our backyard is coming back to life. It has been a long winter. Its bare branches have survived the winter winds and freezing temps. The tree’s trunk has survived with the melted snow, even if it took weeks to seep into the frozen ground.
It has not yet reached its full maturity of summer leaves that will sway with the summer winds and give shade to the summer play of young ones below.
These soft green bundles speak the promise of its coming. They whisper to me that even if not fully formed, there is already promise of summer. There is already resurrection.
Ain’t that good news? Ain’t that good news.
I received it as good news. I still had it together. This community was holding me together. The choir’s words washed over me, a tired mother covered in my ministerial robe as if that could hold me together. And yet here I was, I was making it. Ain’t that good news.