"If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it. I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle."
~Vincent van Gogh~
It's kind of amazing what a week can hold. This time last week my little son was inside me, quietly waiting to enter the world. I was bursting at the seams, swollen, tired and had to lean all the way over to hug Josh.
I seemed to labor off and on for a few days but Tuesday it intensified. Slowly the waves of pain came harder as I tried to breathe through them focusing on helping my little one come into the world. Tears began to flow, through the rhythm of rising pains, feeling fully wrung out, clenching, and then the moments of relief between. I thought about how most everything that is sacred, and precious and of worth comes through some amount of pain or struggle. I whispered to Jesus to help me.
I thought about seeing my sons tiny face, this one whose home was my body, whose limbs I'd watched in amazement contorting my belly these last few months. And finally through tears and cries came life, wet and wriggling, sucking in his first breath of air. He was crying and strong and finally here.
I held him and called him by name and spoke love to him. Harper Pax entered the world, 9lbs and 2 oz, on April 19th at 6:00 pm and there is just joy.
He is now one amazing week old and I am in crazy love. I don't mind the lack of sleep so much, knowing that these days that he is tiny will fly. I drink in his tiny flailing hands like tiny stars, his wrinkly velvet skin, his sweet milk breath, the way he curls his body back to stretch when he's done nursing. The kids are giddy with excitement and it is such a good feeling seeing my whole little brood together. He is one very loved little man. Right now the days blend with the nights but there is magic in them.
This week has been rich and emotional and sacred. It was Easter week, a time when I remember the death of my Savior and more importantly His resurrection... it is everything my faith and life is based on. As I read to my kids from Matthew of how our gentle God remained silent when accused, surrendered himself to humiliation and death to make a way for us to come to Him, I thought about His mother as well.
This year as I looked at my beautiful new son, I thought of Mary's love for Jesus. How she stood before the the babe she nursed, the son she raised all those years,now hung bloodied on a cross. And how he spoke love to her even from the cross. With every year that passes I am more deeply aware of the magnitude of His love and of the power in his victory over death in the resurrection. Once again Journey Mama captured so much of how my heart was feeling as I meditated on Easter. Here are her words:
"I thought a lot about a meditation I guided in January. It was of Mary Magdalene at the tomb of Jesus. We dove in. It was an imagination meditation, so I encouraged the people in the circle to use all their senses, to find the scrubby bushes beside, to stand in the dust she was standing in. To feel her despair. He may have been the first person ever to see value in her, to love her. She was left unloved, without him. She had been out of her mind, before. A used-up, broken woman who talked to herself in the streets. You know the type, you've seen them. He healed her. She traveled with his followers. She stayed with Him to the end.
And she went to the tomb to prepare the body, but then her heart went crazy! He was gone. This was the absolute end of her. She only wanted to care for the broken, empty body. And it was gone.
There was a lot of running. Running to find the men, the disciples, running back to the tomb. (Cool air of the morning, sun rising in the hills.) The men saw that she was right, ran off again.
And from Mary, weeping. Despair. Anguish and the worst kind of loneliness.
I want to truly find that moment, capture it, live it, when he identified her and she knew him. After she mistook him for the gardener, all he said was her name, "Mary." And she knew him.
Anguish to beauty. She would never be unloved again.
Although I'm sure she always had to remind herself of that. And that is what I am doing this morning in meditation. The garden, the cool of the morning. The dust under her feet, the rocks sticking out of the earth. The earth under her knees, her despair, and then Him. His face. His radiance.
In my life on this earth I have been asked so many times, why I follow Jesus. Merely stating that I do is enough reason for people to tell me why I shouldn't. They tell me of the travesties that have been done by Christians, they tell me of historical inaccuracy, of relativism, of how mistaken I am. I have loads (heaps!) of thoughts about all these things. I can talk, I can discuss, and I do.
But there is only one real reason that I follow Jesus. It is because of him. Because of his radiance, his gentle beauty, the sweetness of His WHOLE Being. My Guru, my Master. "Rabboni!" Mary said. This moment is overlooked sometimes, but is one of the most important of his whole life on earth. No other god, no other teacher compares.
Because in his most triumphant moment, finally justified as the One who could destroy death, the first thing he did was comfort a girl, a broken ex-prostitute who nobody cared about. It was the first thing he did."
**When I wrote this on Tuesday, I didn't finish adding the pictures so I'm back today after the week took a difficult turn. Wednesday our neighborhood and many other areas in the Southeast were struck with a series of some of the most violent storms and tornadoes in the history of this area. We spent the day going in and out of the bathroom, with Harper's baby bed in the bathtub for shelter. Thankfully, we and the rest of my family are safe but the devastation has been heart-breaking. Many, including some very good friends have had damage and had their homes completely destroyed. And some in nearby areas have lost loved ones as well. We're thankful for the protection of the God who calls the winds and the rains into being and also sorrowed for those suffering losses.
**Oh, and be warned there may be a whole bunch of pics of my newest cutie around here for awhile.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
It may happen a little closer to delivery with number four, but none the less it happens. I have this need to have all the tiny clothes all baby fresh and folded, blankets stacked, baby bed ready for the brand new bundle. My sister-in-law gave me a lovely shower last week and it made me so excited. All of my sisters have a knack for details and making things beautiful and this did not fall short of their special touches. There was scrumptious food and little tiny bird accents on a perfect Spring day. I was overwhelmed by the love and prayers of these women for me and my unborn son. My mom shared about Christ's design for motherhood, mothers through out scripture and Jesus' own mother. What a gift to have his new life ushered in, blanketed in prayers and grace.
It's so fun to have a few new things for baby number four as well. Baby boy will stay in our room initially as it has always just been easier with nursing through the night, but he does have his own little corner. When we're ready we'll put the girls together and move him to his own room. Here's a look at some of the giftage. He's one lucky little fellow.
lovely handmade nursing cover and adorable pants and hand-stitched squirrel onesie
people wrote their prayers or verses for him on these cut out birds that now hang in his corner
his very own Amber Cooley-made gnome hat
my four little peas in a pod :)
my sister handmade these little bird books as favors for everyone
Thank you to everyone who made this so meaningful in sharing in the joy of his new life. Okay baby, I think we're ready. There are lots of loving arms awaiting you.
Saturday, April 09, 2011
At the end of February I drove up with my sister to NJ to visit with my little Nanny. The above picture of my sister Amy and my grandmother Adelane, was my favorite of our time there. It somehow captures the bitter sweetness of that moment. She is 90 years old, recently had some kind of little stroke and was widowed less than three weeks before our visit. It was a very rich and emotionally full time, so worth the long drive to have a few precious days with my grandmother. We made the most of our time. We looked at pictures and her grandmother's Swedish Bible which she brought over when they immigrated; the pages now fragile and yellowed. Her mind traced back over the years. We ate ice cream and watched Lawrence Welk. We woke up early and had tea while she told about growing up with her single mom in Philadelphia and her very best friend Verna, who died at age 8 of bone cancer. Still I could hear the sadness in her voice at the thought of her. She talked about how you don't feel yourself getting old and the hardships of ageing, the loneliness as you lose people you love. I sat next to her in church and watched her wrinkled hands follow the words of the hymns. I listened to her high shaky voice sing, "One day he's coming, oh glorious day!" and "It is well with my soul." I hid the sound somewhere in my heart. I imagined what those words would mean after 90 years of living. We sat in her retirement home and looked out at the rolling hills of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Her expression was faraway. I watched as a very old couple wandered down a dim hallway. The woman held a rose in one hand and his in the other and I watched the way they looked at each other. I felt a lump in my throat. This is a wonderful place and a sad place. It's a place where husbands and wives, sisters and friends are separated based on their medical and psychological needs; just as my grandmother eventually could no longer live with her husband. This is a place where people come in their twilight and some are just shadows of who they once were, their senses and memories fading. It's so different than my everyday, bursting with the sounds and signs of new life and youth and freshness. My heart broke a little when it was time to say goodbye. I knew full well that this may be the last time I see my little Nanny this side of heaven, but I hope it's not. I am so thankful for this tiny woman. She is 86 pounds of wisdom, experience, laughter and a towering faith. She has loved me all of my life. She is the definition of a prayer warrior and I have no doubt that her faithful prayers for me every day of my life, have kept me from many sorrows. I can only hope that someday I can look back on such a well-lived life and leave such a legacy of grace.
a long time ago, my mom, Nanny and my Aunt
This is one of her favorite hymns and mine too.
"O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
that in thine ocean depths
its flow may richer, fuller be.
O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
my heart restores its borrowed ray,
that in thy sunshine's blaze
its day may brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow thru the rain,
and feel the promise is not vain,
that morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
and from the ground there blossoms
red life that shall endless be."