Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.
― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
I’ll be honest with you, my dear reader friends. I’m afraid. I am now employed beyond the walls of my home. The details are still to be kept quiet, but my life is changing. I have for over seventeen years derived great comfort and security in the firm and infinite womb of motherhood. This caregiving work greater than anything I could ever dream in my young, twenty-seven year old imagination. And now, at nearly 45 years, I get to consider new possibilities. I am called, implored, invited to consider new possibilities.
But I’m scared. For some reason, maybe it’s the pride I was fed that we were somehow better or exceptional. Or maybe it’s the Christian thing, that we are immune to the dregs of life (we all know that’s been debunked by now). But I have allowed myself to believe that the success of my family might be because of me. The marriage, the health of the children, the “smooth” running of our home, the successful business – somehow were because of my sacrifice. And part of this may be true, but if so, is the inverse also true? If I’m not as present, it all falls apart?
When one is insecure, the lies flow, don’t they? I’ll be the first to name it, so you don’t have to – it’s crap. I have a calling and I am equipped for this new role, but I am not required to set aside my mother status for the job. I recognize the need for patience and grace and adjustment and I will claim this. Just like the relaxation in second child parenting after freaking out over the first – the adjustment is tricky and we have to be kind to ourselves. We react to what we don’t know and we do better the second and subsequent time around.
In this life of faith, there is always an element of risk. Always. We don’t get easy. We get what builds trust, and what teaches us to listen and wait. Sometimes we wait with patience and sometimes we don’t. And I admit, my friends, I have been trusting, listening and waiting – ever so imperfect and jerky, for a very long time. The day is here. The ball is in my court, the work is mine to do. And the view is beautiful. I am ecstatic over the wonder. I am floored by the goodness and holiness. And I am wholly and appropriately terrified.
I suspect grief is a reliable companion in the closings of existing chapters and the beginnings of new chapters. My children are growing in independence. They know what they need to do. They are good people who might make dumb decisions and still need parents, but we are in a new space, and for this mom, it’s hard. As a new chapter unfolds while the previous chapter is not quite over, the transitions are never seamless, requiring readjustment and loads of grace, holding the chapters each in one hand – ever so careful and generous.
My fright feels appropriate for today, for I carry none of this lightly. My tears feel necessary and my joy feels adequate. All must be held with grace and a careful grip. To cling too tight may cause the thing to shatter. To hold too loose, it may tumble to the ground. The mystery requires I carry with a tenuous grasp.
On my regular runs I am the looker upper, while my running partner fixes her eyes down. I spot the birds while she spares us from snakes and ruts. Mid-conversation, I point out herons and eagles, hawks and osprey. She claims the coyotes and foxes. Either way, above or below, we take in the sweeping clouds as they scoot across the expansive Colorado blue. We honor the shades of vibrant green springtime. The snow piled high upon the tallest peaks invites comfort in contrast, a longing for diversity against the backdrop of the jagged rock faces.
All of this is my wonder, my awe. All of this inspires me toward deeper communion, reminding of the generous grace we get to claim as our own. All of this invites me to rest, in the bosom of my beautiful Creator, who knows my heart, my desires. My call is fixed and I am invited into the glorious expression of love through goodness and divine design. The struggles of the world, the conflict of hearts, the worn down bodies, the fears of mothers and the questions of fathers, the wrestle of children, the concerns of humanity are all held here. And I find hope again, and rest, renewal and relief.
My work is my greatest desire, held together within the womb of my motherhood. I gaze upward in wonder, and downward in humility – carrying the responsibility and reward with a generous grace and a rather careful grip.