How is it that the light of midday in August falls flat and heavy; it seems to near bake even the greenest of grass into a sickly hue by it’s unrelenting glare. My toddler shifted on my lap, beyond squirrely. My baby twisted and grunted and bucked around his grandma’s lap with the vigor of a newly mobile seven month-old. The older three wandered around, a mix of listlessness and wildness. It was forty-five minutes until the next tour through the historic Rockford Plantation; too little time to go grab a bite to eat first, too much time to hope for consistently decent public behavior out of my crew. We sat on the long backless bench in the shade of the wide front porch, there on the periphery of history, and the light fell flat and heavy.
What about this joy? Even there, baking in the heat, and hoping the baby’s cloth diapers would hold out long enough, and wondering how on earth I’d keep my littles from getting obnoxiously loud in the quiet museum of a home we were soon to tour; this joy, this bubbling mirth, just below my skin, pulsing through me steady.
Tonight too, facing the sink piled high with cooking pots and greasy dishes, I was all smile within. Even as my toddler threw his unwanted food right onto the floor, onto the clean floor and rice went flying. Even as my soul was awash with sorrow over the latest Planned Parenthood video, deeper than the surface storms of annoyance, anger, and despair, there it was, and is, joy.
I know it is the Lord’s doing, and I thank Him, acknowledging that it is a mercy, a grace. There is something within me now unbroken.
I would call it joy, or this….light; it is love, and I feel held in it. Much to the annoyance perhaps of my dear ones, it started when I began learning about Orthodoxy; when I began experiencing the Church in it’s liturgy and it’s people. Something broken became unbroken, and the love of the Lord and the presence of Christ moved from my head to my heart.
I’ve had a dream without sleeping, and I don’t remember when it was, but it’s clear in my mind. I’m in the sea, black waves rising like mountains, thunder and lightning crashing, swimming hard to keep my head just above the swallowing water. I’m so tired and so scared. Then through the peaks of the waves I see a man in a boat coming toward me. I know, in the way one knows things in dreams, that it is Jesus. He’s wearing a rough brown robe and there’s peaceful determination on His bearded face.
The scene switches and my face is pressed tight against a coarse fabric and arms encircle me securely. I am held by Him. I feel the waves rocking the boat beneath our feet and I burrow my face into His chest and breathe. I am rescued, found, safe.
I didn’t get to see the rescue; I didn’t get to see how I went from near-drowning to held-safe. Gratitude, soul-deep gratitude and strong peace, and arms locked around me protectively.
I would never have guessed that it would be Orthodoxy that would bring the knowledge of God’s love for me down into my heart as an experienced love. But it did and I don’t need to know why it was this way for me. I am rescued, held, loved; that is enough.