Wednesday, September 19, 2012

He Walks Us On The Water

“Mom!  Take a picture!”  I hurry to open the camera and focus in time, but as with most of my shots today, the result is a blurry dash of boymotion into the deep end of the pool.  He’s a newly-minted “expert” (evidenced by the swim test bracelet on his ankle) and we’re at his aunt’s pool showing off his skills.  His lungs heave with glee and pride and confidence as he pulls himself over the edge for yet another fling into the waters.  My heart swells with pride, too, but my lungs are another matter. I think they’re breathing again for the first time in years.  Five, to be exact. 

Matt is the oldest of my triplets and has always been physically adventurous.  Anything involving a ball or net or finish line taps into his competitive drive and sets him into reckless motion.  No one is certain about that day 5 years ago.  Not one adult at the family picnic saw it happen.  Our best guess is that a floating beach ball triggered a Pavlovian response and sent his little toddler arms reaching for the bobbing toy which momentarily kept him afloat before he slipped into the very same deep water where I am watching him swim today. 

He’s aware of his history here.  We’ve told him how Mommy’s eyes were lifted to the exact spot she needed to see, how angels’ wings kept his head above water for an unknown lapse of time, how the scar on Daddy’s leg was made by the concrete tearing skin as he slid to where tiny hands were flailing for rescue.  Matt knows that in his second year, he was on the receiving end of a miracle.  The only thing we never told him about that day was that he should be afraid to get back in the water.  To be anxious about the prospect of another accident.  To worry that the next time, rescue wouldn’t come.  From the minute he was pulled from the water, we began to focus the event in a positive light, barring fear from any dark corner in which to linger. 

I, however, with an adult’s rear-view mirror full of life’s broken pieces, admit it’s been hard to pull my own mind from the abyss of dread thinking.  It’s tempting to fence off every perceived danger and adopt a fear-first/never-rest instinct about parenting.  Living care-free in the midst of a care-filled world seems like the most unreasonable thing a parent could choose to do.  And yet, as I watch Matt joyfully toss his body into the water, I realize that I’m really watching the fullness of the miracle unfold.  Matt’s body was saved that day but his soul – the seat of his emotions, personality & will – has been saved every day since.  It’s a glimpse of purity that only a young child can give… the ebullience of life before the puncture of fear. 

I breathe a few easy breaths, inhaling thanks and exhaling praise as I soak in that moment of understanding.  Father, may I never sow worry into my children’s minds and may I always remember the joy of this day when I’m tempted to partner with fear.  Keep me from thinking that it ever adds value to my heart.  My prayer ends with another shout from the jump-crazy boy.  “Mom, watch this!  I can walk on water!”  He belly laughs as he marches over the edge and momentarily looks as if he is taking a step across the pool.  He tumbles in and comes up smiling.  And this day, I come up smiling, too.    

Matthew 14:26-31
When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the lake, they were terrified and cried out in fear.  
But Jesus said to them, "It is I.  Don't be afraid."
"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
"Come," he said.
Then Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water.  But when he saw the wind,
he was afraid and began to sink.  "Lord! Save me!"
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.
"You of little faith," he said.  "Why did you doubt?"

Monday, September 10, 2012

Living Anyway

When the first morning of vacation began with a tumble of little bodies into our bed instead of my usual quiet cup of pre-dawn tea, the first thing I thought was, “I’m not gonna get much writing done this summer.”  It was hard to shutter the construction of my thoughts for a season but it was also refreshing to forget about self-imposed deadlines and worming my way in front of the computer before my husband could claim it for the night.  Those 10 weeks were full, brimming with outdoor adventures and lots of indoor lounging.  Ultimately, I didn’t regret taking a break to enjoy life with our young family.  I know these days are brief and memories must be caught whenever life pauses long enough for the butterfly net to snag a laugh, tousle or hand that still wants to be held.  There will always be days for writing but the days of having a little boy asking for his back to be scratched as he wakes up or a little girl wanting her worries to be calmed in prayer at bedtime won’t linger long.   Like Mary, I have been treasuring them up in my heart, right up to the last day of summer when the chaos of a school routine fell upon us once again.

After shuttling the kids to school, the first day with a quiet house still had the residue of children all over it...running back down the road with a forgotten lunchbox...turning the summer art table back into a fall homework table...washing and folding the beach towels  & swimsuits one last time.  I didn’t find time to sit at the computer for anything other than updating the fall sports calendar.  As I walked to the bus stop, eager to see the kids and hear about their first day as 2nd graders, I noticed one of the neighbor’s mailboxes.  It’s the one that always has bright sunflowers growing right up against it...beautiful this time of year and easy to see as I rounded the corner of our street.  

What caught my eye wasn’t the tangle of yellow sunbursts growing where they had been planted, but rather the one that had managed to grow by accident, a few feet away, in a crack where the street and curb met.  Just as tall and just as in an unexpected place. I was so taken with it that I ran back to the house to grab my camera (by now, I should know that taking my camera everywhere with me is a must.)  

The kids were full of stories to tell and the walk home felt shorter because of their exuberance.  As we passed the errant sunflower, my daughter paused to admire it.  “Look how beautiful, Mom!”  When she asked why the neighbor had planted it in such a strange place, I explained that the seed had probably been moved there by the rain or by a bird picking through the dirt.  “Well,” she replied, “that seed just decided it had to grow anyway.”  

Oh, sweetie, what truth you speak, I thought as we trekked home.  Life does indeed decide to grow anyway, doesn’t it?  So often not on the schedule we had planned or in the spaces that we had prepared for it.  I think we live best when we exchange the scramble for the pause, the itinerary for the hiatus. 

I whispered a prayer as she reached for my hand.  Lord, as we start this new season of busier-than-ever life, may I always make time for the anyway places where You have set a seed to growing.