"Let the world stop turnin'
Let the sun stop burnin'
Let them tell me love's not worth going through
If it all falls apart
I will know deep in my heart
The only dream that mattered had come true
In this life, I was loved by you"
When Clara was about seven months old my world felt like it was unraveling at the seams…literally falling apart.
We were living in a little cottage that, within an hour, went from being our "heaven on earth," to becoming a catapult towards the unknown. Now, I've done "unknown" in my life…a lot. I've moved on a dime, I've launched businesses without a financial safety net, I've driven away from all I knew with a hundred dollars (30 years ago a hundred dollars went a lot further than it does today) in my wallet and a little suitcase on the backseat of the car I was driving cross country to deliver to a friend's brother.
But as much as launching your life into the unknown by yourself might be lonely, your choices, ultimately, only seem to directly effect you. In other words, if you mess up you're the only one who might go hungry that night. If you take a wrong turn, you're the only one who will have to retrace their steps.
But as a mother, finding yourself on the brink of that unknown landscape where "beyond this place there be dragons," without a paycheck, and three children to provide for, is terrifying.
But this is where we found ourselves that gray day in November, and I was barely holding it together. Had it not been for my growing understanding of God's omnipotent goodness and His tender care for His beloved children I would have collapsed in on myself.
Yes, I had seen countless proofs of His guidance, and love, in our lives. And yes, I had experienced His "rabbit out of a hat" kind of divine surprises. But….
And that's where this story begins. In a "But…" moment of inner what-iffing myself into a tortured, frantic state of terror.
I was sitting on the floor of our living room playing with Clara, and her sister Emma, who were bouncing and twirling in their baby bouncy seats. Their older sister was sitting on the sofa reading a book for school, and I could feel the tears I had been trying to hold in ready to burst their banks, and start down my cheeks. I closed my eyes trying to staunch their flow, all the while praying that God would open my eyes to the presence of His care.
As I sat there I praying, if not for answers, then at least for some spiritual poise so as not to alarm our girls--the twins bouncing and giggling just inches from me--I felt the softest touch on my cheek.
I opened my eyes and there was Clara reaching across the space with her little hand, to place her palm against my cheek. She looked in my eyes with all the wisdom of a sage, and let her hand quietly rest there for just a few moments, but it was enough.
This post isn't about how that experience resolved itself…although it did, and we were cared for by God's love and wisdom in countless unexpected ways. But it is about that moment of maternal terror--when it seemed like I had somehow let my children down and couldn't find my way out of a mental maze of self-doubt and a false sense of personal responsibility for having all the answers all the time--and how a simple touch turned my tears of terror, into tears of gratitude and joy.
Clara's tiny hand and the wisdom in her eyes…reminded me that we were not specks of human dust on an ever tilting planet cast about by circumstance and chance, predisposed to mistakes, and random acts of poor judgment.
Her touch, like her sister's arm linked through mine on a walk through a department store, her laughter on the phone, or Emma's smile from the backseat of the car in my rear view mirror, was a reminder that we are all on this journey together. And, that the journey isn't about securing a house, finding the perfect job, or making all the right decisions and choices for ourselves…or others.
The real journey is in those moments of a tiny palm on a tear-stained cheek. The connectedness we feel with one another as children of God…brothers and sisters of one Parent.
As we care for, and comfort, one another -- share in each other's joys, sorrows, triumphs, and countless instance of when we have the courage to "try-again," we confirm that there is a divine root system connecting us through our humanity. A spiritual eco=system of Love's designing.
Our kindness to one another confirms that we are not selfish mortals born of human history, or randomly mutating cells, but brothers and sisters, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, neighbors, colleagues, friends, pets, classmates, global citizens, galaxy inhabitants…in Christ. We are not here to get it right…socially, financially, professionally, religiously…we are here to do it right…and I believe that means to do it with love.
I have read the following story before, but when someone sent it to me today it reminded me of how often we needed to be reminded of what our calling is in this universe. I believe it bears sharing:
Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child.
The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbour was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.
Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.
When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbour, the little boy said,'Nothing, I just helped him cry.'
Touch a cheek today, help someone cry, let someone help you…but do something to confirm for yourself, and others, that we are much more than we sometimes remember we are…help someone see that "the only dream that matters has come true"…in this life they were loved by you…