Sunday, August 28, 2011

the dim and sacred and quiet

TaizeImage by Winam via FlickrI entered the stone church building lit up with a hundred tiny candles four years ago this month.  Jill was with me - we hushed ourselves and squinted our eyes, adjusting to the dim and sacred and quiet.

The dark, curly-haired boy was there, sitting alone in a pew.  I was surprised, as I had mentioned to him about the service and he hadn't sounded like he planned to come.  It turns out he happened to be passing the old church just as the service was starting and thought he might sit down for a bit.

(singing) "In God alone my soul can find rest and peace, in God my peace and joy.  Only in God my soul can find its rest, find its rest and peace ... "

The Taize community was founded by Brother Roger in Taize, France in the midst of World War II.  His intention was to create ways of healing the divisions between Christians, and through that reconciliation move towards healing for the human family. The movement slowly spread throughout the world with Protestants and Catholics joining together for this unique act of worship.  Sadly, in 2005 Brother Roger died after being attacked during evening prayer.

This particular Taize gathering had been a quiet refuge for me over the past three years prior.   I found life and energy in the simple melodies sung over and over and over and over again and in the very pregnant and waiting silences.  There was always opportunity to kneel at the cross with a lit candle, relinquishing some burden to our God who was not in the wind, earthquake, or fire.  He was in the silence, only a voice.  (1 Kings 19: 11-13)

The service was always basically the same, month after month, although my life and experiences were rapidly changing.  I bore new victories, new disappointments, new scars.  Even the white haired people leading the songs and liturgy were still there, each year, and it comforted me.  The world is not all chaos.

(singing) "Wait for the Lord whose day is near.  Wait for the Lord, be strong take heart ... "

Usually only five to six other people inhabited the space with me.  The rest of the world spun madly by, oblivious to the disarming peace waiting just behind the large wooden doors.

It was maybe 45 minutes and we finished, lingering in the warmth of all the true words we'd just spoken and sung together.  And then I walked home and shared thoughts with the different wonderful friends who'd just shared the space and time with me.

(a prayer by Brother Roger)  "Holy Spirit, enable us to bring peace where there are oppositions, and to allow a reflection of God's compassion to become visible by the lives we lead.  Yes, show us how to love and to say it with our life.  O Lord, hear my prayer."

That one Sunday evening in August 2007 the dark, curly-haired boy was there too.  He walked Jill and I home with much kindness.  Thousands of  miles and emails and twenty-one months later, we were married.

This weekend that boy and I went to another Taize service on a Friday night, held in a 150 year old Catholic church, lit up by another hundred candles and classical guitar.  There were only a handful of people there and we were by far the youngest.  As we repeated the lines over and over and over and over again, I was reminded that while the world is a very hurting and broken place, we are welcomed to come and be still.

This time I sat right next to the dark, curly-haired boy and even held his hand. 

(singing) "In the Lord I'll be ever thankful ... "
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

pregnancy brain

My pregnancy brain this time around is very, very bad.

I've left the car lights on at least 4 times (and had to be jumped) in the past couple of weeks.  A few months ago I left my car/house keys on top of the car.  Chris was driving.  I didn't realize until it was too late and they seem to be gone - not at the police station, not on the street.  Chris was kind to me and not even mad.  He made me promise not to put things on top of the car, which I often do when I'm strapping Saf into his car seat.  So I promised.

But I might have lied, because this week I drove about five minutes to my destination, got out of the car, panicked, got back in the car, and asked Saf, "Um, where is the phone??"  He didn't say anything.  I immediately drove back to my house and saw it laying in the middle of the street, out of it's case.  Amazingly, it was not smashed, nor drenched in a puddle.

I confessed to Chris and made another promise.

My pregnancy brain this time around is very, very bad.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Help me become a baby again.

The greatest power
in the universe came
to us
in our weakest possible
And the state trembled
and hunted and murdered
desperate to destroy
a baby
(who would usurp governments
with his cry.)

and you say the only way to
pledge our allegiance to your kingdom
is as a child
to be re-born
to dance when we hear the music
and share what we have
and trust our Father and that His ways are the
strongest and most true.

Help me become a baby again
to be weak and dependent and honest
and to cry when things are not right.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

those with child, those in labour

There are a lot of emotions the week that your baby turns one.  There might be a few more when their birth was the most difficult experience of your life.  We celebrate our little wonder and are so grateful for his life in our lives.  But both Chris and I have experienced feelings of heaviness, panic and anxiety as we remember what this week was like a year ago.

Safran's birth was probably the time in my life when I felt most powerless, most incapable, weakest, most inept.  My child, whom I carried, dreamed and loved in my secret and safest place for 40 weeks, needed me to push him into the world before he died.  His dangerously low heartbeat, too late in the birth for a cesarean, steadily screamed the graveness of the situation.  And as hard as I could push (even with no pain meds that could have dampened my ability), it just wasn't fast enough.  Those moments of hearing his slow heartbeat and pushing with every fibre in my body (with midwives and a doctor encouraging/yelling for me to push harder) and still he wasn't coming - it was an unbelievable feeling.  I knew my baby could very well die inside of me, an inch away from the rest of the world.  Thirty minutes of pushing, two vacuum attempts, and finally he was on my chest.  But he was white and completely limp (APGAR score of 2) and quickly moved to the resus trolley a few feet from my bed.
maybe 90 minutes after birth
In the end, although he was transferred to a special care hospital in Sydney (without me for the first 30 hours), he was released from the NICU in five days, labeled a 'spontaneous recovery'.  After initially telling us he wasn't moving one side of his body and "You need to know he may never be all right", within three days doctors suspected that he would actually be just fine.  It all ended extremely well.

But this whole year, I've never been able to feel like that was because of me.  

There's a passage in the Bible,  in Jeremiah 31, where the prophet is sharing God's heart and plans for the refugee community who were living in Babylon.  He promises that God will bring them back to their homeland, to rebuild and restore.  And among them that come will be, "the blind, the lame, those with child and those in labour."

Hm.  That's an interesting group of people to choose to not only make an extremely dangerous and difficult trek back to Jerusalem but to be the people who will work in a very harsh place to re-establish their homeland.  

God specifically is choosing those that the rest of the world has rejected and ignored, those who are perceived as weak.  The blind, the lame, pregnant women and moms in labour.

And that's my confession these days:  "God, you know me.  I'm still the same.  I'm blind, I'm lame, I'm pregnant, I'm labouring.  I'm a weak one. And I really, really, really need you."

It's true, I couldn't push my baby into the world fast enough.  Because of the unusual circumstances surrounding his birth (partially due to a malformation of his umbilical cord), I was not enough.  I think this week I am just beginning to feel a release from that shame.  I was not enough, and that's okay.  God was there.  He never let go of me, or Saf - and even if the outcome would have been much worse, it would still be true.

The weak are very close to God's heart.  And as my baby turned one, I'm nearing the half-way mark of my newest pregnancy - and when you've experienced birth trauma, that can be a scary thing.  But I feel assured this evening that it all doesn't rest on me.  And no matter what happens, God won't let go.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I thank you God for most this amazing

(inspired by e.e. cummings "i thank you God")

I thank you God for most this amazing
for the laughing, brownly spirit of (his) eyes
and the blue true stream of (his) voice
and everything which is forever
which is brimming over
which is “I will”.

How could myself (in all of my yes and all of my not)
be receiving tremendously this gift
from your heart so sketched, painted, smiled upon, sung, written and dreamed
(you who see me clearly more so much than me)

now the wants of my wants open wide
and the song of my song is born.

psalm 14 march 2009
(written on my friendboy's birthday when we were just lovers engaged to be wed.  but over two years later, I'd write it all again)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

and i thought about years. my baby's turning 1??

I secretly (and not so secretly) like this old Christmas song about a girl coming home for the holiday and remembering all the things she loved from her childhood.  It's extremely cheesy, and I mostly sing it to annoy my husband (and college roommates) with its length and lyrics.  The chorus goes, 'And I thought about years, how they take so long, and they go so fast'.

The thing is, my baby boy is turning one today.  He's a whole year old, outside the belly.  That's hard to believe.  But I thought about years, how they take so long, and they go so fast.  This one sure did.  Did Chris and I ever not have a child in our bed?  I can barely remember that.

This year felt like a very long period of time, especially those first six weeks of recovering (on many levels) from Saf's birth and learning to be mama and baby-outside-the-womb.  But then came the first smiles and feeling pretty adjusted to all the newness and my body feeling back to semi-normal and it just keeps getting better.  And better.  Every single day.  These days its the ridiculously beautiful smiles in which he pretends to be shy, the dancing with his father to every genre of music, the ravenous eating of basically anything and the chubby little index finger pointing at everything.

But has it really been a whole year since he so fully invaded our lives?

Has it only been one year?  How do you explain all these new smile lines and grey hairs??

He's such a gift, our Safran.  I really could not imagine my life without him and I want to continue in this next year to treasure all of it - the joyful, the tired, the frustrated, the amazed.  And I anticipate much of each.