Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A tiny shoot

Today was our second snow day in a row. I have kept my eyes and my heart open, and I have been humbled beyond words at the peace and love here in our home. For the first time in years I did not have to work on a snow day. Because the company I worked for was in Virginia even if it was bad weather here and Delaney had off they would be usually be open. I had to work while trying to keep she and Danica occupied, and I always felt a huge measure of guilt at how neglected they were, how little fun they were having and how distracted my work made me. I remember those days as some of the most frantic and stressful of my telecommuting career. I didn't take a minute of the past two days for granted. We snuggled in bed, played games, watched movies, collaged, sang songs, read books, and we really were happy.

The continued pain I am having, Danica's restrictions and slow healing, our financial insecurity and all the wondering about what the new year will hold for us has been buried beneath the soft falling snow. I have prayed for this peace over and over. I thought it might come in a crazy miraculous way like water into wine. I imagined something sudden we could shout from the rooftops. Instead it has grown like a baby in the womb. We have trusted the seed was there before we could even feel flutterings. We have the stretchmarks to prove it. We are great with child. Our hope and expectation are sure and new life is coming.

Last night I was up in our room, and I heard Dan downstairs doing puzzles with Danica, and he was playing his favorite playlist. Do you know what songs he has at the top of that list? Chris Tomlin's "In Christ alone" and "This is our God" and Andrew Peterson's "I am a family man" to name a few. He asked me to read the Bible with him before bed on Monday night, just he and I. He has been leading our family Advent readings when he is home which is every night now that he is on all days. I have always loved my husband, but this change in him over the past months is an answer to so many prayers on my knees. It has been slow and there have been lulls, but it is a shoot straight from the stump of Grace.

Henri Nouwen writes, "A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him . . ." (Isa.11:1-2).

Our salvation comes from something small, tender, and vulnerable, something hardly noticeable. God, who is the Creator of the Universe, comes to us in smallness, weakness, and hiddenness.

I find this a hopeful message. Somehow, I keep expecting loud and impressive events to convince me and others of God's saving power; but over and over again I am reminded that spectacles, power plays, and big events are the ways of the world. Our temptation is to be distracted by them and made blind to the "shoot that shall sprout from the stump."

When I have no eyes for the small signs of God's presence - the smile of a baby, the carefree play of children, the words of encouragement and gestures of love offered by friends - I will always remain tempted to despair.

The small child of Bethlehem, the unknown young man of Nazareth, the rejected preacher, the naked man on the cross, he asks for my full attention. The work of our salvation takes place in the midst of a world that continues to shout, scream, and overwhelm us with its claims and promises. But the promise is hidden in the shoot that sprouts from the stump, a shoot that hardly anyone notices."

I have been playing this song on repeat today. QUIET. SOFT. SLOW. I noticed.

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