It’s nearly fall and today is overcast. Perfect puffs of gray hold their breath above all the short buildings, shielding the sun and its strength - assuring us the seasons will indeed dance and trade places again this year. And I am far below and underneath, making my buttery way through a croissant dipped in raspberry jam. My tongue is alive and the butter is all over my fingers. By mid-morning, I forget the circus of the night before, especially if I slip away for precious moments to be alone with my thoughts, with the ‘not yet’ of longing.
Maybe I feel most alive when I can taste the “not yet” part of being human, when I can get inside my soul and wrestle specters like they’re real — like their teeth are tangible so that believing they can be beaten means something more than an abstract run-on sentence.
But, the problem with loving longing is also the reason why it exists at all - there are only glimpses of what is wholly outside and absolutely hidden inside this humanity (all the mystery wrapped up in our being uniquely formed and fitted by a Creator God). I am trapped on this terrestrial ball, a slave to sin like my cells to gravity while this other, bigger, perfect reality hangs just outside (or inside?) my grasp.
I’m standing at the counter now, Zella’s working on a watercolor project at her easel and Foster is in sweaty sleep on my chest. He doesn’t know it, but the light from the kitchen window makes the top of his bottom lip and the tip of his nose glisten. I am straddling worlds, nodding to Zella about the elaborate lesson she is teaching about numbers and names, cutting strips of her newly watercolored creations. I am also standing here — in that yoga pose where one leg is on my other thigh, with a hot, almost one-year-old doing that staccato intake of breath before sighing out into real sleep. And I am also in this longing. All of it, a mezcla of moments and how every mama/caretaker doesn’t collapse under the sheer pressure of existing on seven different planes, I sure do not know.
But, the lectionary and longing and James 3 and today again with the little children. I know it’s true because God said it is, but it really is the case that every time - every single time - I go to the Word, it is good. It is abounding and rich and lavish and gravy. It is extra and covering every single thing I’ve put on my plate today - touching it all with that sweet, deep comfort of definite Good.
Today, that goodness is hard and it’s coming from Mark 9:36-37,
And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
This is my motherhood, right now — two children in the midst of me, asking for constant reception. And this passage was never about that before, for me. It was about saying yes to the childlike ways inside me, not to actual children. It was about saying yes to all the beautiful and innocent eternity in my heart, calling it good. It was about not growing up so much in the ways the world that I would grow out of dependence and delight in the ways of the Father. But I am too much about myself and I have now these two children set in the midst of me.
And in some strange alternate plane (the same one I long for and find in glimpses) called eternity, getting myself behind them and others is the only way to move forward in holiness. And it all really is a dance like the seasons trading places, because when I let myself be less… that is, when I think less about my delight and dependence and more about others in my midst, I have a deeper, enduring delight and the relieving knowledge that God has given these good things. I am more sure that the “other,” “not yet”-ness of this life is as tangible as the blood rushing to my feet. And that, to whatever degree I have glimpsed “a desire nothing in this world will satisfy,” will be met by an abundance my soul cannot now contain. And also, somehow in God’s economy, the gravity holding down my feet is exactly opposite my reality of freedom — no longer a slave to sin.
The Collect for Ordinary Time
Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.