Our house was covered in dust when I went into labor.
It was two weeks before my due date and during the previous month, we had been living in a construction zone, pending a renovation of our kitchen and upstairs bathroom. Plastic draped our doorways, floors, and furniture. Every morning, I would spread a covering over the top of our bed and down the length of our dining room table table, each anticipating a fresh dusting of drywall before they would be unrolled for our evening rituals.
Three days after I found out I was dilated three centimeters, I was eating a pumpkin waffle and sensed a tingling on the right side of my tongue. Two days later, it felt as if the entire right side of my face was going numb. A stroke!? the frenzied side of me freaked. Instead, it was Bell’s Palsy, a somewhat rare virus that temporarily weakens the muscles on one side of the face and is three times as common in pregnant women. It would likely disappear in a few weeks, but in the meantime I was told to rush to an eye doctor to make sure there was no damage to my cornea, because, of course, I couldn’t close my eye now without the help of my hand. Also, the doctor recommended, maybe best not to keep living in the Dust Bowl of 2017.
I used to think that Christmas was the happiest time of the year—the time when all your longings of the previous year would find fulfillment, when all the sadness would evaporate, when all of your blahs would culminate in inexpressible happiness. I used to think that Christmas was the joyous celebration of Christ coming and filling all of us with perfect satisfaction and contentment.
I am learning that that is not quite true. Actually, not true at all.
Friendship is a morsel of the Incarnation. As we partake of the bread and the wine, so friendship plays out Christ’s physicality in our lives.
Last week, one of my best friends moved 3,000 horrible miles across the country. Several months of unemployment, ambiguity about the future, and an increasing desire to live out west tugged my friend away from this place, and away from me. I hated to see her to go, but felt even more uneasy about her staying.
There seems to come a time with most good things for an ending to arrive, and resistance to that appropriate ending only prolongs the inevitable. The time had come for Rachel to leave, and I had to let her go.
Exactly four years ago, I stood where I stand today. In May of 2005, I drove away from four years of college and an equal amount of daily, dorm-dwelling friendship with my roommate, my best friend.
I moved to D.C. and began to set up a life for myself in a brand new place, doubtful that I would find friends who could compare to my college soul mates. I was wrong.
Holding the microphone close to her little mouth, Kaitlyn stares confidently out into the audience, and begins the first few lines of her favorite song, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me …”
About a year ago, on her way to an audition for America’s Got Talent, then 4-year-old Kaitlyn Maher told her father, “Daddy, I want to see the sparkles come down.” Gently, Reuben told his young daughter that it would be nice if she would make it all the way to the Top 10, but that if it didn’t happen it would be okay.
“Daddy, I’m going to ask Jesus,” Kaitlyn responded, bowing her head to ask Jesus to let her see the confetti fall at the night the winners of the show are announced, but adding that if it wasn’t His will, she didn’t want it.
Despite wowing the crowd with a simple rendition of “Somewhere Out There,” Kaitlyn didn’t make it to the Top 10. But she was invited back for the final night as a special guest. As the confetti fell from the sky, the winner held Kaitlyn high in his arms. Reuben realized that God had answered Kaitlyn’s prayer.
I did not grow up observing Lent, and my first impressions of the observance came mostly from people who seemed to care more about abstaining from chocolate and TV than seeking God. I figured that Lent was either a colossal waste of spiritual time or there was something more behind the curtain of this often misunderstood Christian practice.
I know I need a primer for Lent. Maybe you do too.