After writing for an hour to try to define how I have been feeling recently, I found a common thread: I am uneasy, sad, worried, etc. because life is forcing me to acknowledge, once again, how little control I actually have.
All the small things have converged in a great conspiracy to teach me yet another lesson on surrender.
I won’t try to bring all the pieces together for you, but I will focus on two areas because they will bring us to the words of my father, and I think he captures best where I should be, and where I hope to end up when I finish processing my emotions on the page.
First, the daily rhythm of our home has gone from a tight beat to an erratic pulse. No one is on the same schedule, and screens have gone from something we were told to keep our children from to something we require them to focus on for at least eight hours a day. I grieve for the deeply unhealthy lifestyle my children are forced into by an already broken academic system that is now trying to function in a world that cannot decide how to to proceed. My kids have lost community, sports, dances, and all sense of normalcy, and they have been asked to pretend that the life they have been handed isn’t total and complete shit. We simply have to make the best of where we are, but I see the toll it takes on the people I love most. And I, as their mother, can do so little to fix it.
Second, my own mother has been in the hospital with COVID-19 since Wednesday. We think she will be released today, and even this relief is not enough to sweep away the fear that comes with a deep understanding of how little the world listens when we tell it what to do. On day six, we know her health has been restored, but earlier on, the undercurrent of fear left me unsettled and searching for a way to steady myself. Outwardly, I went through my days little indication of concern because I was mostly certain her outcome would be positive, but there was always a part of me that was deeply afraid of what I might lose.
This brings me now to my father’s words. He sent them to me last night because he too turned to the act of writing to bring order to his emotions. Due to hospital protocols preventing visitors, my mother has been alone at the hospital, and my father has been quarantined at home. When I read his words, I know that this is not a response to 6 days alone. This is a response to contemplating a life of solitude. This is a reconciling of the fear of losing his life-long companion at Christmas. And here is where he found his peace:
Imprison me with your love and care. Hem me in with walls of mercy. Capture me with the wonders of who you are. Surround me, Mighty Angels, to resist the Evil One.
Let my praises echo off the four walls of your compassionate confinement.
May I find my solitude reveals your presence. I am not alone in this cell of existence. May the peace of your presence preserve my mind and emotion. You are with me in my minute world.
My solitary confinement becomes contentment. My heart and soul burst forth with joy at your wisdom at placing me this cube of aloneness. I searched the oceans and mountains looking for you, and, amazingly, I find you in smallness!
You amaze me God! How simple you can be.
Since I cannot ascend to comprehend you, you come down to me in simplicity. Indeed, a little child shall lead them. Let the little ones come to you and forbid them not. Forgive us for our obfuscation. All I really know is that you are near. You will never leave, nor forsake me. That’s all I really need to know!
When my father processes, he comes to the understanding that holds us together. He comes back to the knowledge of Immanuel, God with us: the peaceful mystery of a God so big becoming so small in order to prevent us from ever walking alone.
This is God back in the garden with man, a baby in a manager, a man strung out on a cross, and a presence beyond the veil. It’s the beauty and the suffering. There is nothing more powerful than presence, and when we can grab hold of that everything comes back into place.
The lack of control ceases to present itself as chaos. Instead, it becomes peace. We don’t have to solve the unsolvable problems of the world, and we don’t have to fear the unknown future. We can take one step at a time knowing the one who controls it all walks beside us.