There she was, pulled hard from all she knew. Eyes closed, mouth unevenly stretched wide and tongue curled with all her strength. Her eyes were locked tight, almost as if she was protecting herself. As if she was fearful of what her eyes and mind would reveal. It was instinctual.
Her moment-old, tiny back was pressed against that warm blanket, nurses around her attempting security. But nothing about her body said secure. The two most telling signs? The first. That thin tear, fallen from her right eye, now stuck between chubby cheek and swollen eyelid. The second. Those four fingers. Pure newborn-white, yet flame red at the knuckles, holding tightly. That warn blanket didn’t comfort, but my hand did. That sin-stained, earthly hand. That hand that only held purity because of who made it, not because of its actions.
Her tiny left chest provided a foundation for that sin-stained hand; strong but so inexperienced. Those little fingers anchored hard into my flesh, holding on to what seemed like the only thing familiar. It was as if each finger was crying “Daddy, stay…stay”. Even as I write these words, I can feel the strength that exploded from each finger the moment she found my hand. She hadn’t seen me yet, but she knew. Deep within, a design rarely stripped this bare, she knew. She knew what to hold on to.
Joy, gifts, and gratefulness were ever-present that day.
They were so big, so evident, I don’t think I could have missed them if I tried.
But not today.
Today isn’t exploding with joy, gifts and gratefulness everywhere I look. But they are there, they never leave.
Joy, gifts, and gratefulness.
It takes more to see them today. Son angry, violent, needing restraint. Wife ill and tired. Lay-offs looming. Shoulder irritated from lifting. Diabetic A1C higher than it should be. Saving account holds less than planned. Diagnostic tests all around, but co-pays are high. Brother is busy and distant. Mice in the garage.
But they are there, they never leave. Joy, gifts, and gratefulness. They don’t flee when moments or days challenge, they just take more discipline to see. Or maybe it’s when we relaxed and let go of the fear and anxiety that we can clearly see.
As I restrain son that fights, I remember HIS dedication and patience. As she weakens in the evening I remember how HE served. As I make ready the resume, I remember HIS providence. As I test blood sugar I remember HIS promise of a new body. As shoulder tightens, I remember HIS perseverance.
Today. This moment.
I choose to see the moon setting; a muted red, wearing a cap of thin dark cloud. Today I choose to capture the treasure of daughters happy to play. Today I choose to hold onto the promise of a new body. Today I choose to see the living creation of the deer I spot to my right. Today I choose to see the eclectic colors of the fall leaves, the smell of oak-wood burning in neighbors yard. Today I choose to hear the intensity of my dog smell whatever is in front of his nose. Today, this moment, is a choice I have. Today I choose to take joy that I, me, Jeremy, could be the man who held my son. That I could be the man who served my wife, laughed with daughters playing, sat in awe of fawn starring, and who was mesmerized by nose smelling.
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”