My boy, he shouts down the hallway, thirty minutes past his bedtime “MOMMMY! Come cuddle me!” and this day of all days I say “YES” and I walk fast down these old plank floors. This day I near run. These days might be short you know, we’ve got no guarantees.
When I arrive in his room he is cuddled under the blankets I think, “Oh no, is he scared? Did he hear the video I just watched?”. I bend, touch his back. Only… Wait. That is a pillow. He has wrapped his body pillow in his favorite blanket and he is hidden in the corner. He bursts out laughing when he hears me make the discovery. So we laugh. I pull this little light into my chest, it seems the only way to honour those that have been snuffed out.
We had a pack of girls in our home the other night. There was near twenty of them wearing hoodies all black, their hair swooped across their left eye. They talked about how they barely go to school, how their dad died, how their friends are mean to them. They stood in my house and all the broken felt like cracks in my universe. These babies looking like women, tiny flames to be fanned, extinguished, or ignited.
I made them hot chocolate and I sat beside them, I looked into their eyes. I hugged a couple as they left. They asked if they could move in. I laughed with them, smoothed her blue-green hair as she threw herself into my arms. I felt the warmth and heat she produced, knew how easily it could shift to raging fire, the kind of flame that burns things down, turns lives into ash.
I thought about them today. And the twenty year old man in Connecticut. I know. I thought about the babies too, and their mammas, but I must confess, I thought most about him.
How did our community fail him so? His own brain? The chemicals that keeps it all together…what went so wrong? What accelerant was thrown over his young body that made him a threat to the world instead of a light to it? The thing about this world is that it is all choked full of beautiful things that can be twisted into horror and we would like to think that if we sit in our warm houses pouring our heat over our own kids that we will keep them safe. I don’t think that is the whole story.
All I know is, there are kids standing on the edge of raging fires Those who’ve been pushed by a community spinning too fast, being too self obsessed. Those from generation after generation of men who live like infernos.
We need to find a way to keep them all warm…
Pray with me?
The whole meaning of the Christian community lies in offering a space in which we wait for what we have already seen. Christian community is the place where we keep the flame alive among us and take it seriously so that it can grow and become stronger in us. In this way we can live with courage, trusting that there is a spiritual power in us that allows us to live in this world without being seduced constantly by despair, lostness, and darkness.
That is how we dare to say that God is a God of love even when we see hatred all around us. That is why we can claim that God is a God of life even when we see death and destruction and agony all around us. We say it together. We affirm it in one another. Waiting together, nurturing what has already begun, expecting its fulfillment—that is the meaning of marriage, friendship, community, and the Christian life.
-Henri Nouwen in Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas (quote posted by Suzannah yesterday)
A late link up with my friend Emily