These are the days of holding the deep portions. The days where your husband walks the kids to the park and on the way his phone lights up with the worst kind of news. Tragedy. A friend’s life ended. And like that, he arrives at the playground, where his kids run and pour sand and swing so high they’re almost to Mars.
These are the days when the hard news comes fast and abrubt, in the grocery store parking lot. The friend from way back who has suffered long is now waiting for the end. You are not surprised but when the news breaks over your throat, you suck in deep. Then you do the same as you always do. You grab the empty grocery bags from the trunk, unbuckle your toddler, lift him to your hip. You wait for the older one to climb out and grab your hand. You warn of cars. You look both ways. The toddler doesn’t want the shopping cart seat. So you demand: We all will stand still until you make the right choice. Eventually, you shoot him up to the moon and count down till his bottom makes landing on the lunar surface. Three-two-one. We have contact. You say. And you circle the aisles resolving to absorb these last mornings of grocery shopping before your almost-five-year-old is in school all day long, no longer walking these aisles beside you, begging for sweets, telling gigantic tales of tiny dragons who fly in and out of grocery bags that are really dragon traps.
It is all too much, this living and dying.
These are the days where the portions are rich and deep and full of lives. And all the lives have different woven stories. Some are tales of grief, some of newfound joy, some of too much suffering. Some are being taken away. These lives.
These are the days when your husband across the room is playing Lincoln Logs with the boys and you say, “Maybe you should be alone. Maybe you should go to our room for awhile and read,” because you want him to grieve with space and where is the space on this Saturday where life is abounding around you and the children are sweet and wild and it is all too much? Too much goodness, too much wonder, too much sadness, too much power.
These are the Sundays when you sing, Through the love of God our Savior, all will be well.
And you look across the sea of worshipers among you: The family in love with their new baby boy, the family that has lost too much, grieved too much, the friend whose diagnosis is heavy, the beautiful swell of the music and the always losing.
So you mouth that phrase. All will be well. You make the words over and over and your spirit hears you. And God comes beside you and whispers it too. God’s hand on your head, like a mama smoothing a wayward hair, God holds that hand on your head and whispers that one good phrase. All will be well, All will be well speaks over and over your life and these lives and all the lives.
And when you sing the words, you groan them from that heavy pit of a place inside where the deep portions settle.
We expect a bright tomorrow; all will be well
Faith can sing through days of sorrow, all is well
On our Father’s love relying
Jesus every need supplying
Yes in living or in dying
All must be well
And what other sort of prayer is there anyway? But the prayer that hopes, that aches and notices the mercy, that hopes again.