On Saturday I posted a poem that tries to tell the story of the moment God got a hold of me for good, the moment God wrapped me up in arms of love and spoke to my heart:
I love you, like you love this wet wrinkled start of a human being.
That moment of Presence was pure gift. Unexpected, unasked for, that moment changed everything. Long before then, I had given up on hearing directly from God. At the time, I was not even sure I believed in God, especially in God as initiating Presence. But that moment was Truer, more Real than anything I had ever known. I didn’t have the words for it, but it lived in me, even so. Twenty-one years later that moment lives in me still, and it continues to transform me. The moment is still unfolding, still revealing, still loving and holding me. I do not pretend to understand it, but I do try to live into it ever more fully each day of my life.
Over the years I have come to understand God’s words have more complexity than I first thought. At first the words simply grounded me in God’s love. They gave me the freedom to live into motherhood from a place of love rather than a place of fear. Love cast out my fear, again and again, freeing me to become the mother I wanted to be—the mother God calls me to be. But over time I realized what God said was not unidirectional or particularly linear. It is more like a mobius strip. God loves me like I love my children. As I love my children, so too I learn to love God. As I love God, I learn to love my children. Each love strengthens, emboldens and enlarges all love. And the love God promised me was not limited to my love for my children, but taught me to better love my husband, and my friends, and myself. As I grow in love for me, and for my family and friends, I grow in love for my neighbor—my neighbor across the street and my neighbor across the oceans. This Love has claimed me and marked me and will never be done with me.
God came to me in that moment in the maternity ward, and God continued to be present to me in my children as they grew. When they were younger I was often the first person stirring in our home. I loved the early morning calm. After I ground beans, brewed a pot of coffee and unloaded the clean dishes from the dishwasher, I would pour a cup of coffee and sit down with a book or my journal and savor a few moments of solitude and peace-filled quiet time.
Thirty minutes to an hour later I would hear the telltale squeaky steps of one of my daughters, clonking down the stairs. I knew from the second or third step which child’s sleepy face would soon peak round the corner. At the sound, my heart beat a little faster, joy rose in my chest, and a smile lit up my eyes. Soon I had a warm snuggly bundle on my lap. I would breathe in the still-seductive smell of my child’s head, and hold her tight, surrounded for the moment in unconditional love. I treasured those grace-filled moments and even today it is because of moments like those that I cannot doubt that God loves me.
I know that God must wait for my footsteps, that God smiles and reaches out in joy as I come around the corner—how could it be otherwise? How could I love my children more or better than God loves me?