I remember when I first got my driver’s license, I couldn’t imagine how anyone ever falls asleep at the wheel — or, for that matter, eats/texts/fiddles with the radio while driving. There was so much to worry about! So much to keep track of! I would hunch over the wheel, back tense, and give it my undivided attention.
Then I got used to driving and became as drowsy as the rest of them. (A horrible game to play with yourself is to look at the faces of other drivers as you pass them on the other side of the road. They are invariably a) half-asleep, b) actually asleep, or c) looking down at their phone.)
When I imagine staying at home with a newborn and toddler, I imagine it to be full of endless stimuli. How could I ever get bored? There is so much to worry about! So much to keep track of! Parenting is such a new concept — to me, anyway — that I doubt I’ll ever lack for distraction or something to do.
Last Sunday in worship, we wrote down what we needed to leave behind, let go of, before we could take the next step Jesus is calling us to. I wrote “anger.” There has been resentment wearing away at my heart, for a couple months, and I know I can’t keep letting it rot in there.
Of course, several times this week — while thinking, while cooking, while showering, while driving — I picked the anger back up again. I told myself, “You left that on the altar. Don’t pick it back up.” But old habits die hard, and thought grooves get worn down in our brain, ’til those neural pathways are hardened arteries.
One thing that helps is doing a breath prayer, which I started right around the time the resentment began. I breathe the word “mer-cy,” one syllable per inhale, the other for ex. So when I tense up in anger, I remember I’ve already left it behind, and breathe through the prayer word instead.
I watched a grandmother take her toddler granddaughter up for ashes. The priest said, “From dust you came, and to dust you shall return.” Afterward, the little girl kept wiping her eye. Some black dust must have fallen in.
I watched the grandmother carry the girl, wiping her eye, back to their seat.
“We are creatures destined to die,” says Stanley Hauerwas. And mothers consent to give birth to such creatures.
Today marks four weeks exactly for the date I count as the “date of death,” the official day we lost our baby.
Today marks the first time I needed to write a sermon, post-loss. When it’s my turn to preach, I take Thursday morning to write from home, looking out at the drizzly rain. Today I couldn’t do it. The last time I preached at our church is the day the miscarriage began. I couldn’t conceive of going back to writing sermons — what would I say?
How do you talk of the Good News when sometimes there are no words? How do you reassure people they should have hope, when you might not have hope — or, at least, might not be ready to talk about hope just yet?
As with every other Thursday, I finally wrote the sermon. I decided to make this sermon’s Good News simply that we can express all our grief and pain to God — that God gave us books like Lamentations (a.k.a. “Complaints”) for just that reason. We have permission to bring it all to God and not force ourselves to rush to hope.
My comfort comes in knowing God gives us this freedom.
* a quote from my dad after I called him for help this afternoon