Saturday, September 29, 2012
Ellie, on Friday afternoon, 9/ 28/2012
God's Faithfulness Amidst Our Angst
Late with my post again today, writing it in the wee hours of Saturday morning instead of on Friday, having chosen the pillow over the pen in last night's evening hours…
Keeping our grandbaby Ellie three days in a row! Delightful but exhausting!!!
At almost 14-months-old, Ellie is beginning to walk for up to 10-15 steps without falling. Steps I often need to follow so closely to keep our precious little one out of any danger.
I'll give you a few snapshots of our day on Thursday…
Bleary eyed in the early morning hours, I am feeding her the slightly-warmed Gerber chunky-applesauce (Yes! She has just enough teeth that she can chew soft foods and tiny crackers!) in my stupored, dazed-out state, while her effervescent personality soon snaps me out of my fugue with just a peppered little patting to her chest, an inside-joke from such a wee little tot, grinning mischievously with her signal to me to do my "beat on my chest and make the gruff sounds of a gorilla" feat. I obediently snap out of my daze and into my instant gorilla mode as I am immediately greeted by her peals of laughter. What a delight is this tiny bundle of life, this ray of sunshine to my ever-shadowed heart!
Later in the afternoon:
Ellie makes her way through the blades of grass in our back lawn, trying to follow our little rat terrier dog Prissy as she patrols the back yard. Ellie (Merry Elizabeth, as she is Merry Katherine's little namesake) crawls most of the way, but as she endeavors to take on the rising terrain of the yard, she decides she will walk instead of crawl for the climb! But as the hill inclines, I watch her step… and… fall, pull herself back up, step… and… fall… delightfully pushing herself to climb the hill with her newfound skills. She makes sure I trail closely behind her, so I am enjoying this venture into God's wide expanse of wonder along with her. She leaves the shaded ground behind her and enters the dappled sunshine, ever heading toward, but never quite reaching, always-on-the-move Prissy. On some of her falls, Ellie will stop for a moment to pluck up hand-fulls of grass to feel its texture, gaze at it, and then smile. Then when she rises to stand, she lingers to touch the leaves of the almond bush (planted in Merry Katherine's memory, blooming all in pink in the spring) as its branches wave out to her at just her height.
Flowering Almond Shrub as it blooms in the spring
After quite a while, we finish our trek as Prissy now decides to go rest on our patio. We join her there, and I am able to take a breather for a bit on our patio swing as I watch Ellie painstakingly begin to remove hand-fulls of dirt from my potted geraniums and lobelia to then drop them over into the bigger pots of petunias and mandevilla as these pots are just about as tall as she is. By the end of her hard work there, I had stripped all her clothing off including her then-sagging diaper, and she is now sporadically covered from head to toe in layers of dirt. Her dig comes to a fast end when she finally decides she needs to taste this luscious-looking black dirt and suddenly grabs a hand full and stuffs it abruptly into her mouth. Her face is scrunched, and her mouth flies open as I begin to dig what I can out of her tiny mouth!!!
A nice bath, supper, and a bottle, and she is ready to crash (after protesting the end of her day for about 30 minutes of course!).
That night, I had my usual fits with sleep, although, thanks-to-Ellie, my night of sleep started much earlier in the evening as Granna GiGi was quite tuckered out from all our day's adventures. I found myself, despite my exhaustion, retreating back to my familiar pattern of sleeping a couple of hours… to wide awake… to reading awhile… to back to sleep. But as Satan so often likes to do in the moments between my restful sleeping to my lying there wide-awake before finally succumbing to turning on the lamp to read, he picks his nightly fights with me. It seems he likes to challenge me with all the "what-if's," "if-only's," and "now-how-do-I-live" battles that challenge me when I am the least up for them. So, instead of reaching for my novel that usually distracts me long enough to lure me back to sleep (I had already tried that tactic, but on this night it doesn't seem to work), I pull out my Bible, this time "The Message" version, and open it up to one of my several book-marked pages. This book-mark happened to lodge amidst chapter 55 of the Psalms. I began to read:
"My insides are turned inside out,
specters of death have me down.
I shake with fear,
I shudder from head to foot.
'Who will give me wings,' I ask---
'wings like a dove?'
Get me out of here on dove wings,
I want some peace and quiet.
I want a walk in the country,
I want a cabin in the woods.
I'm desperate for a change
from rage and stormy weather."
I plunge through the readings that touch several dimensions of my grief-and-trauma, touching that deep pain that it may rise up from its depths inside me, even if just a bit, for some relief as God's Word resonates with my pain, and brings God closer to me.
The psalmist then visits the too-familiar-to-me, pains of friends-and-family betrayals:
"This isn't the neighborhood bully
mocking me---I could take that.
This isn't a foreign devil-spitting
invective---I could tune that out.
It's you! We grew up together!
You! My best friend!
Those long hours of leisure as we walked
arm in arm, God a third party to our conversation.
Haul my betrayers off alive to hell---let them
experience the horror, let them
feel every desolate detail of a damned life."
(OK ~ I balk at the starkness of King David's wishes somewhat at this point ~ as you and I know, we wouldn't really want to wreak this havoc, this hell of child-loss-grief-and-trauma, on ANYbody, but oh how we wish they would at least just TRY to understand some of our dilemma in its midst!!!)
He goes on . . .
"I call to God,
God will help me.
At dusk, dawn, and noon, I sigh
deep sighs---He hears, He rescues.
My life is well and whole, secure
in the middle of danger
Even while thousands
are lined up against me.
God hears it all, and from His judge's bench
puts them in their place.
But, set in their ways, they won't change;
they pay Him no mind."
(Oh, what a breath of fresh air it is that Scripture gets it! --- So in touch with the realities we try so hard to whitewash-over out of love for our friends and loved ones, but all too often, the reality really is… "But, set in their ways, they won't change; they pay Him no mind.")
King David continues . . .
"And this, my best friend, betrayed his best friends,
his life betrayed his word.
All my life I've been charmed by his speech,
never dreaming he'd turn on me.
His words, which were music to my ears,
turned to daggers in my heart.
"Put your troubles on God's shoulders---
He'll carry your load, He'll help you out . . . "
King David goes on in Chapter 56 to further protest these people ~who proclaim their love, even while dishing out their secondary injuries on us~ injuries that (counter-intuitively it seems to me) sometimes loom larger even than our already great loss we grapple with every day. (I guess the betrayals of love rise up, magnified in our lenses, as they are in our face, and break our hearts even further in two.)
Then he goes back to the internal struggles we all face in our child-loss angst---
"You've kept track of my every toss and turn
through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in Your ledger,
each ache written in Your book.
"If my enemies run away,
turn tail when I yell at them,
Then I'll know
that God is on my side.
"I'm proud to praise God,
proud to praise GOD.
Fearless now, I trust in God;
what can mere mortals do to me?
"God You did everything You promised,
and I'm thanking You with all my heart.
You pulled me from the brink of death,
my feet from the cliff-edge of doom."
And, get this ~the kindness of God~ who, like Ellie, plunges through my travail with the warmth of His spirit, lifting my heart to the day's delightful images of walking in the sunshine with my precious grandbaby girl . . .
"Now I stroll at leisure with God
in the sunlit fields of life."
Ahh! The peace! The comfort! No matter our darkness, no matter our travail, He steps out of the darkness to shine His love into our hearts, to remind us of His touches of Heaven on this earth, to draw us back to His side, back to His eternal perspective . . .
I turn out my light, lulled by God back into my much-needed sleep, mulling these delightful words that evoke such peaceful experiences in my heart, over and over, and over, until I too ~like Ellie~ am able to sleep… like a baby . . .
"Now I stroll at leisure with God
in the sunlit fields of life."