Monday, October 24, 2016

Thin Places

The thing about children's hospitals and neighborhoods on the margins is that they are places where it becomes impossible to pretend all is right with the world. When gunshots become your evening soundtrack alongside the katydids of southern summer. When you silently hold your husband's hand while you hold open the elevator door for a breathtaking girl whose smooth head is covered with a delicate silk wrap, and she drags her iv pole down the hallway with a bright smile pasted across her pale face. When we arrive for our first meeting with Caden's surgeon, the parking deck is full, there are too many sick kids. We park across the street at the cancer center, and quietly watch a man dry heave into a bag on the elevator, while his wife dabs his neck with ice and braces his arm and we grasp hands and gasp quietly at the fragility of it all.

The air here feels thin, the curtain drawn back on all our illusions of safety and longevity. Again we remember that we are actually but a breath. And our sons and daughters too, as fleeting as the green grass already turning brown, the bright green leaves gasping last breaths in brilliant red and yellow.

God feels unbearably close, we cover our face at his brilliance. At the awful beauty and unbearable pain, the joy and sorrow entwined, inextricable.

I have no good answers for tear-stained parents and battle weary grandmothers. Neither the ones on our block nor the ones sitting alongside the bed next to Caden. I wonder how the nurses serve and care with such gentle joy and peace, how they clock-in and out to face suffering in twelve-hour increments again and again. I wonder why our boys wake up optimistic and early, to open their Bibles with Adam and read promises before school of the God who says over and over "do not fear" even though by all accounts there is always oh-so-much to fear.

In these thin places we find ourselves stripped of the things we cling to. Of wealth and health, of American dreams and prayers always answered in the affirmative. Of hashtag blessed, and of election woes. It all fades like our lives and we watch in awe the space where curtains draw back to offer us a glimpse of the one who holds us close through it all. We surrender and hope and pray and grasp faith lightly. We want more Jesus, we want freedom for our boys and healing for our son. We want all the things without any certainty we will get any of them.

We tell ourselves this time is less serious, and certainly this is true. We are not blindsided by emergency, by the most complex surgery they can do on a heart that will surely not survive without it. We have been there, walked through that deep valley before. But the fact remains that our son's chest will be cracked open, his heart won't beat while they do the repair. The doctor explains that cutting through the scar tissue from that last surgery is actually the hardest part. Probably for us too. Our own scars and fears and memories loom, both to shake us and comfort us, for I cannot help but remember the fearful nearness of my savior. The holiness of the space by Caden's bed, the ways we learned about the most important things in all the hardest ways. About surrender and faith and letting go of our illusions that the world can ever be our true home. Come Lord Jesus we cried, and so I murmur those same words tonight.

Over the past few days, some of the matriarchs of our neighborhood have come by to pray over Caden. Without fail, they kiss my cheek and whisper assurance into my ear: God's got him, He's got this, everything will be fine. What kind of faith is this? I wonder, as I struggle to gain my own footing on a shaky faith riddled through with fear. They have walked through valleys and more valleys and known hunger and fear, and yet they believe. They trust in His goodness with a faith discovered in the thinnest places.

And so tonight, on the eve of Caden's second open heart surgery, I will ask God to help me open my hands, recognizing that my tight grip on my son will change not one single thing about the outcome of his surgery. The best I can hope for is that in very act of letting go, we will enter into the thin place with a readiness to meet our Savior and surrender our son in order to find our faith anew.

8 comments:

  1. Your words always come from such an honest place of longing for and relying on Jesus. I'm thankful for them. It's an honor to pray you guys through the night (daytime on this side of the world). May each of you sense the nearness of Jesus even as you sleep.

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  2. Praying for you all tonight and tomorrow

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  3. Praying for you all this morning!

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  4. Your words...and your boy...are beautiful.

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  5. Praying for Caden today and for you! My mama's heart is so empathetic to the fear and worry this day holds for you as you entrust your little guy to his doctors. Praying you feel the arms of Jesus gently holding and comforting you as you wait!

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  6. As a mother it's hard for me to imagine myself in your place. No one ever understands until they walk the course themselves. Just know we all admire both Caden & your families courage through his journey. We pray for a quick recovery and Gods healing. God bless your family!

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  7. Praying for all of you this morning...asking the Holy Spirit to come and be as near as your breath.

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  8. Oh my goodness friend. You paint such a vivid picture with your piercing words. Thank you for sharing so authentically, allowing us to see you. Love you big.

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