justbarelymadeit

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Category: Guest Post

GUEST POST: Cautious Hope

Kelley is a mother, a doula, and an ex-producer. She shares this with us in hopes that it might remind us of what we have been given. Enjoy

 

I pull on the tights.  Oh blimey, lint.  Lots of it.  Maybe I shouldn’t go running after all.  My body feels slow, and heavy.  But these nerves, spawned by fear, not only linger.  They multiply, encroaching upon the heart and swallowing up what life-giving hope remains there.  Yes.  I need to shed the nerves, so I run.

I see trees, and clouds, and his blue baby body, limp on my living room floor.  My pace quickens, and I exhale.  A new breath works its way through my insides, gathering some of the yuck on its way back out and expelling it into the cold winter air.  In comes life, hope, to replace death, fear.  I am alone with my Maker, with the baby boy’s Maker.

“Is he breathing yet”?  I re-live the 9-1-1 call, the slow panic, the suffocating thought that maybe this was it.  All because a toy was carelessly tossed, and toy met head.  Such a small event seemed to frustrate the life right out of him.  Inhale, exhale.  A song blares in my ears: “We live and die like fireworks…”  Duncan, he is young, but he’s not a fizzle.  He is an explosion of life, and like each child born he shocked my heart awake, flooding it with love.  My heart, thus linked, lay pale and quiet on the carpet as the rest of me made phone calls in the other room.

For 29 months we have shared this planet’s air.  At first, I could breathe for him.  Now he’s on his own, and this mother dislikes feeling helpless.  “He’s dead!” cried a brother.  “He’s not,” said a paramedic, “he’s just sleeping now.”  He finally got his air.  I was still holding mine, craving more signs of vitality.  Then, as strangers poked and prodded, his blessed cry of anger was like a song from Heaven.  Though subtle, color began to return to his body, as if to mirror the cautious hope resurging in me.

Cautious hope?  Isn’t that an oxymoron?  What I see is rose mingling with grey.  The joy and sorrow of what-ifs all tangled up in a traumatized heart.  What can I do to keep this from happening again?  In striving to shield him from death, I would inadvertently shield him from life.  In truth, the best life lived is one that doesn’t hang onto itself so tightly.

Inhale, exhale.  Blood surges through my veins.  I am alive.  The little one is alive.  Now a new song: “It is well with my soul…”  Really, God?  I was working towards that.  Would it be?  Well?  This is Duncky Boy we’re talking about: Bright, bashful, soft, doe-eyed, coy, quirky, smelling always of sweet milk.  How tight is my grip on this precious gift?  You know I often ponder the giving and the taking away.  It seems, however, that in this moment, the best I can muster is “I love him.  Can I keep him?”  At home he sleeps peacefully in his crib.  I exhale a weak “thank you,” and inhale Grace.

Living and dying, all the while loving and being loved…that is Grace.  Though harder to swallow, suffering is grace, too.  Through suffering, I am reminded that each day of air shared with little Duncan Smith is more than I deserve.  I’ll take it.  I turn the corner towards home, leaving at least some of the nerves, the fear, in the dust.  Still unsure of what lies ahead, I breathe two hearty prayers: “Lord, please…” and “…Lord, thank you”.

– Kelley Smith

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GUEST POST: At Last

I will be periodically posting articles from guest authors to add some variety and different viewpoints from time to time. This first article is from Peter McIntyre, a friend of mine who graduated from Moody Bible Institute with me. An avid photographer and thoughtful man, I look forward to many more article from him. Enjoy!

 

There’s this annoying kiosk where I work that plays a twenty-seven second clip from each CD, over and over, all day long.  Didn’t pay much attention to it, except that there was this rising interval that jumped into my consciousness every time it played:

At last…

One day I finally walked over, punched the button, and listened.  A warm, bluesy voice rolled out, rose and fell, first caressing and then belting through the cheap speakers:

At last,

My love has come along,

My lonely days are over

 And life is like a song…

There was a bit of an aural train-wreck after that, since the next clip was Lynyrd Skynyrd, but I adjusted and got back to work.  Every once in a while I walk by and hit the button again, stand just long enough to hear the strings swell:

At last…

Sometimes she dances by when I’m working away in a corner.  My love has come along…  And I wonder what took him so long, why she sounds so rested, serene when she sings it.

Today was a bit long, hectic, haggard, hard on the feet.  I got to sit in her corner for a while, digging for stuff, doing this and that.  Another guy I work with was helping me with a few items and she started in with her testimony, to which he responded how much he just hated that song.  I told him that I was about ready to buy a copy then and there.  And she just kept rolling through my mind, over and over, all day long.

I finally finished, bought a few things, some new pans, exciting stuff to carry all the way home.  It was cold waiting for the train, windy.  I sat and stared out the glass as we screeched and clattered west with my new pans and tired feet.  The streets went by like spokes on a wheel, a wheel that was rolling along the window, rolling over me, with a hub beyond the dark horizon, rolling the world along in a moving picture show, flattening me under its weight.  Half way home, a lone firework popped over the orange street lights, a little green spray.  I stared after it but didn’t see more–who’s shooting fireworks in Winter anyway?  And then, staccato piano chords on a warm bed of violins washed into my consciousness:

At last…

Aw,  lemme alone Etta, will ya?  Can’t you see I’m busy letting the world steamroll over me?  But her voice is the kind that’s hard to argue with.  Her twenty-seven second love song began its journey through my mind again, over and over.  I started to wonder about how a woman looks when she feels like that, when she knows her love has come along at last.  I think when I find out I’ll make sure she never gets far from my sight afterward.

I rode on and thought that was all there was to it, but it just kept rolling.  I thought about David, songs in the bible, all that ancient stuff.  Ya know, all of those “songs” in Revelation never really did much for me, if I must be honest.  As I clattered the last few blocks with my pans and sore feet, I wondered if they sound more poetic in the original Greek, maybe flow a little better.  I climbed up all the stairs and dumped my stuff on the bed and told God that I missed him.  Lord, what ever happened to rending the heavens and coming down here?  I know you’re on your way and all, but the world’s still rolling and I’m still wondering if I should have spent so much on pans.  Sooner or later you are going to show up, right?

I know what I will look like when he does.  A little embarrassed probably, but not the guilty kind like when you get caught reading the Cosmopolitan cover at the grocery checkout.  No, it’ll be the kind of embarrassed that a girl gets when a boy she likes tells her she’s pretty, or maybe like a bride when her veil is finally lifted.  Embarrassed doesn’t really seem like the right word, though, but then maybe there isn’t one.  Maybe two words would suffice.

– Peter McIntyre

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