My season right now is both rich and dry. Not barren. It’s full of life. Dry, because life has its thorns and they scratch and wound, heal over, and are sometimes opened again. Dry like sandpaper, both gentle and rough at the same time, depending on how hard you rub.
I like to run. Sometimes I dream of running. I’m running so fast, faster than I’ve ever run before. I’m almost crying because of the joy of it. I can’t believe my own power. It’s everything that I’ve ever thought I would be able to do, but didn’t always have hope that I would be able to do it.
This morning I felt good, but tense. I sat on the couch with my toddler in my lap and a heavy blanket over the two of us, cuddling while the youngest took a nap. It was one of the rare moments where I didn’t feel touched out, where I was glad to be able to offer the affection that I know he needs, instead of trying to muster up the energy and motivation to let somebody else touch me when I just wanted my body to myself. I am with you, in these moments, if you only look. No moment is too small for me. I love you like this. He feels good, and you feel good to help him feel good. I feel good when you let me in.
Later as I’m working on something, and my toddler is playing on his own, he comes up and asks for a hug again. And another one. And another one. And I feel the itch creeping up. The sandpaper presses down a little harder. Breathe. With a very gentle hand on my shoulder, God pushes my body into that hug. He redirects my attention away from the task I’m working on. Shift. God speaks to me in images. In my mind I see the red jogging stroller that my father in law found for us at a garage sale. It’s an image calling for an action, and so we get ready and go outside.
(As I write at the kitchen table, the rice is boiling. Play with your happy infant. I lower the heat and I’m thoughtful. ... I watch my baby play with his colorful wheel. I watch it fall. "You dropped your wheel!" I pick it up and watch him play by himself, intent, and I wonder whether I will finish this story before my kids need me again. ... We eat lunch. Yummy rice and meat. I talk about the flavors. I like the ginger, I like the sweetness. The grapefruit is cold and it is sour. David doesn’t want to try it. “Fría,” he says when I speak a little to him in Spanish. ... David loves to put his hand on my face. He does this now and I smile at how gentle he is. He does it again and makes me laugh. Then I say with a chuckle, “I normally don’t like this so I shouldn’t encourage you to do it.” “I want hand in my face,” he says, and pulls my hand to him. I oblige and then ruffle his hair. A couple of more “hand in my faces” later, he gives me permission to come back to the computer. “Hand on the computer,” he says. I read aloud what I am writing to him. “More words,” he says. I like how similar he is to me.)
It's time to run, and I strap my kids into the stroller. I walk to warm-up, run for a minute, walk again. These are my runs nowadays. I injured my right-side groin muscles a few months ago, and I’m going slow so I don’t aggravate the injury that I’ve waited not quite patiently for it to heal. I pay attention to my body, thinking about the area where the injury is. I feel the tenderness in other parts of my legs, and it feels good, and I know I can run through that. I feel my lungs expanding and contracting. I concentrate on my breathing. This feels good. I listen to the thunder. When we first left the house, I tried to pull up the radar app on my smartphone to see whether it was going to rain. It wouldn’t load, so I decided that I would just run anyway and we would see what happens.
I’m very close to the half-way point of my run. All of a sudden I get the sense that it’s about to rain. I wonder: How do I know that it’s going to rain? Normally it sneaks up on me more. God speaks to me in a feeling. Breathe. It’s as if my eyes weren’t open until this point, and I look around in wonder. The air closed in on me all of a sudden and with that cold, breezy pressure I felt as if I myself was opening up. To my left I hear the splashing of the water treatment plant, but I know that my sense is not from that water so nearby. It’s going to rain. If you don’t turn around, you’re going to get caught in the rain. I look at my children and don’t want them to get rained on, but I know that a little bit wouldn’t hurt. And yet, something tells me it’ll be more than a little bit, so after a few seconds of enjoying this feeling of being open and breathing so deeply, I turn around.
We listened to the thunder as we ran and rolled. It didn’t seem too much closer together than it was last time, but I could feel the change in the air still. Ten minutes more and we’re almost home. I ran hard, careful to listen to my healing and challenged muscles. I ran up the hill slowly pushing the heavy stroller. Really, it was more of a bouncing walk. I could tell that the pressure was in my lungs and calves, and not in my groin. That is how I knew that the tenderness I felt was safe to run through. Breathing hard at the top. Have to walk it off. Head to the garage.
It’s going to rain soon.
I talk to myself and I wonder, what if it started to rain immediately when I got to my porch? How cool would that be. Like a miracle. I tell God, if you have it rain right when I step on that porch, I'll take that as a personal message that you're looking out for me. (I rebuke myself a little. God doesn’t speak in miraculous way that he did in the days when Jesus walked this world in the flesh. And yet, the way he speaks now as a result of what Jesus did for us is almost even more miraculous.)
I breathe. David helps me carry the stuff to the front porch. Before I step up, I am expectant, wondering what God is going to do. I step up, and look around.
It is not raining.
I want you to talk with your son. I want you to be mindful. I care about you. I care about your children. I care about your relationship with each other and your relationship with me.
I call my son over to me. “Sit down next to me,” I say. He sits. “I think it’s going to rain,” I say.
The sky rumbles. “Wow! What is that?” I ask, and look at him expectantly. He eyes are on me but he doesn’t say anything. “That’s called thunder,” I explain.
He smiles big when it thunders again, and searches the sky for the source of the noise. He says, “What is that?” and his tone mirrors how I asked the question before.
“Thunder,” I say. “Thunder,” he repeats.
“David, look up. Do you see the leaves rustling in the wind? Moving? That’s because of the wind. The air is moving through the leaves. What do you feel? Put your hand out.” He puts his hand out. “What does the air feel like?” He looks at me. “Does the air feel wet or dry?”
“Dry,” he says.
“It feels kind of wet to me,” I say. “That’s called humid. There’s moisture in the air. What about Mama? Is Mama’s skin dry or wet?”
He smiles big again. “Dry.”
“Touch my arm,” I say. He touches my hand. “No, touch my arm. Run your finger along my arm. Is my skin dry or wet?”
“Wet,” he says and he laughs, touching my sweaty skin. “It’s wet because Mama was sweating. Mama worked hard and she’s sweating.”
It got cold all of a sudden and the breeze picked up a little. “David, what do you feel now? Did it just get cold all of a sudden? Do you feel that cool breeze? That’s the wind. It’s what’s making the leaves rustle.” I think. “Hey, look at me,” I tell him, and he turns to face me. I blow in his hair and he giggles and shakes his head. “That’s what the wind’s doing, moving the leaves.”
David listens to the sounds, and he says, “Thunder.”
“That means it’s going to rain soon,” I say. We watch the leaves for a few seconds, and the raindrops start to fall. “Look, David! What do you see?”
“It’s raining,” he says.
“Yes, it’s raining.” I talk about the things that we saw that told us it was going to rain. The things we felt. The things we heard. “Maybe we should step inside now that it started to rain,” I say, and I start to get up.
“No, watch the rain,” he says, and my heart stops a little as time slows from the joy that I feel as my son watches the raindrops fall.
My body chuckles, and I sit back down. “Okay, we can sit and watch the rain.” After a minute I take some pictures, and he enjoys that. It starts to rain harder, and he wants to step inside, so we do.
|Not a very good selfie, but D looks cute.|
I thought that the moment of God speaking to me was over, but as we walk through the door, my son's eyes search for mine and when he finds them, he says, “Go for a jog. Watch the rain. Leaves rustling. Wind blowing. Started to rain, step inside. Take pictures.” In his words I see the stroller. I see the rain falling on the leaves. I see them rustling, dark green-brown tiny flags in the wind. I see the rain like crystals dropping on the walkway, covering the road in glistening, thriving sheen. I feel the wind through my fingers and gently on my face, even as the door is closed behind me. I feel open from hearing the words of my child as he shows me the world, even as I just showed it to him.
In heaven and in my heart, I feel as if I am seeing God. He breathes, and he smiles.
|The view from our front step|