As ever any morning and not excepting this one, my pilot was set to auto in the stop-go-stop-please-just-for-all-the-holy-go school traffic. Running two fingers around a twist of hair much the way my mind rounded the day’s tasks, my eyes skipped in light fashion along every different-same face in every same-different car caught up in the mechanics of a great clumsy-working clock.
Like a ball plucked from the air by two sure-quick hands, my eye-bouncing caught and stopped at something different in yours. When two people on off-terms run into each other, they nod and quick get back to sacking their own groceries to avoid surface-awkward words. Bearing witness to sorrow in a stranger you’ve never met bids the same sort of chagrin because anyone recognizes in that naked way what a sorry bedfellow sadness is.
Your face was a worn-thin cotton sheet used for cover against the hurricane in your soul. And because it wasn’t meant to, it just wasn’t holding up. God mixed me as a woman made only of a little blood but mostly too-big feelings and my heart wadded as paper in my chest.
My bones groaned a little for you then and it escaped as a sound and my son turned to me, ‘What is it, Mom?’ I know that impossible holding-together made worse by a room full of people and so I hard-wrenched my eyes forward and said, ‘Nothing, Buddy.’ The rest of the drive was spent with one hand on the wheel and the other on my heart and I couldn’t help but think of all the reasons you might be crying.
Were you tasting again and again the galling bitter of the kind of lover’s quarrel that leaves you feeling like he wouldn’t recognize your soul if he passed right by it on the street? Or maybe all you crave is to sit and have a fresh, bracing drink of deep friendship but every table you see has a cold-plastic RESERVED sign in the middle of it. Did you mess it up bad this morning, Mama? Did your sharp-clawed, growling bear of impatience rip all your people to shreds to start their day in tears, too? Maybe someone you stitched tight into your heart is gone too soon, ripping at those neat seams.
I am hoping not.
It could be the sorry state of unjust affairs or your starving-lean budget or the touch-tender wounds not yet healed from earlier days or an unknown hopeless kind of hungry-swallowing sadness. It’s probably nothing I could even fathom from my limited experience.
None of this matters so much right now as the soft, flat boulder I want to pull up for you to sit on:
I’m holding up your shaky-tired arms this morning with both of mine. And I’m asking all manner of sweet favors you may not remember to ask for yourself in this moment because sad, the same as mad, is a short-sighted beasty thing that makes us forget the very things we hold in our own two hands. Mostly, though, I’m hoping you’ll just be able to fold up and bend right in half under the weight of His great howling affection just for you…and that this alone would begin to be enough.
None of this, we know fully well, is magic and you may not feel swept up and away on a strong gust of courage and hope this hour. But I know God sees and hears and is even now knitting in His upside-down ways the backside of this messy moment into a good work that looks complete on the inside-out. One last thing? I’m (pretty much not) sorry but my people will tell you I never leave well enough alone and even if you wanted to be, you’re not alone this morning.
‘It turned out that whenever Moses raised his hands, Israel was winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek was winning. But Moses’ hands got tired. So they got a stone and set it under him. He sat on it and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on each side. So his hands remained steady until the sun went down.’ Exodus 17:10-13
And he won that battle, sister.
I see you in the fight and I’m right beside you.
Melissa (the mom with that hair and pajamas in the drop off line)