In the Midst Of

May 6, 2015

I wrote this before we left the Boston area, but didn’t have a chance to publish it. So I’m publishing it late.

***

There is such goodness in New England. The kind of goodness that wants to swallow you alive and you would let it… gladly. The kind of goodness that speaks peace to the soul in such a manner that you are quieted to all other sounds except the breathing of goodness surrounding you. We have been so embraced and held and kept this week in the East Coast, welcomed by love and lifted by the support of strangers turned into friends. It has been a gift- to see my son adored by our hosts, to open message after message of East Coast colleagues welcoming us to their land, to share meals with people I have known only through names in a book of Covenant ministers. There is such goodness there.

For too long we have lived alone, without this sort of gracious community. We have, of course, been given the gifts of several churches, of colleagues from other faith traditions who have loved us so well, of friends in our home city who welcome us with joy, but this lavish, radiant support- here in the East and from all over the globe through the wonder of social media- this gift is beyond it all. And so we have soaked this in and soaked this up and wondered in wordless awe how in the world do we ever repay such gifts. We cannot. We can only receive and vow to do the same for someone else who needs the support and love we have so graciously been given. 

Krista and Jay went above and beyond for us. From the inception of fundraising when Krista asked me to set up something so she could give money to it to opening their home in every way to our family. From feeding us (stuffing us) with Jay’s good cooking, to sitting with us when it hurt to breathe and all we craved was a strong drink to calm the nerves- which is funny because we don’t really like strong drinks. They allowed us to view their love for each other- a love weathered by years of affection, learning to live beside each other, showing us a simple and honest and hopeful marriage that is accentuated by tender love and strong kindness toward each other. And they delighted in my little boy- the little human in this world that makes our hearts leap and bodies tremble in love- they have delighted in him. Even when he broke their vase. Even when he pushed too long on the water dispenser in the freezer door. Even when he repeatedly pulled the embroidered table runner off onto the floor. Even when he would rather watch Fireman Sam or Peg + Cat than engage them. Even then, they delighted in my child. And that alone means more than a world to me.

Also the aged gentle doctor who tenderly and happily cared for my son’s small body, ably looking for whatever it was we were searching for. Taking seriously our concern for his safety and speaking in quiet ways the language of love.

And then there was the pastor who drove up through traffic jams with her kind-faced husband, still newlyweds and young. We ate burgers and fries and birthday pie while the conversation was punctuated by laughter and grace, even as I grew tired of talking and simply listened the most. And also the gentle smile of another colleague, worried that he had not cared well for us, but what he didn’t know was that the great gift he gave to me was watching him bend tender toward his congregation on Sunday morning, loving them in the chaos of a pastor’s life on worship day. That made me smile, him hard at work, doing what I too love so well.

We are humbled by such grace.

The grace of hospitable colleagues, miles and miles away from our home. The grace of many from around the globe loving us in message and post. The grace of excessive love in the arms of a couple who broke themselves open for us. The grace of great generosity.

Even in the difficult, God gives his gifts. He blesses us amid, not in spite of. He shows up in the middle of what’s hard, wearing the skin of friends- new and old. In the midst of, not in spite of. We have seen him in all the places we have stepped this trip. Even on the days when it felt like we were bearing the weight of a thousand worlds and we weren’t sure we could carry on another step. We have seen him in you. In the midst of, not in spite of.

And while we wait for the hopeful ending to this season, we cannot help but lift our hands in humbled gratitude, wordless thanksgiving in our hearts, even as we limp our way home.

 

 

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