My Trust in You

June 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

Psalm 9

10 Those who know your Name will put their trust in you, *
for you never forsake those who seek you, O LORD.

The light of another rainy day is leaving us. Behind me, tall grass blows against the wide windows, flicking the glass with a cool evening spray. Across the long room, soft light shines through the scarf I’ve hung around the lamp. We are still lining the generous confines of this new nest with touches of our own.

The last time I wrote you, my son slept a few feet from me under the roof of the tiny 9′ x 11′ house. The occasional thud of a cat landing above kept company with the barks and meows of the family with whom we lived. We were warm, dry and loved; but my four-year-old ached for the space required for the active life of a young child.

My monk-like boy didn’t often complain. He spoke with love of every dog and cat who snuffled at our door. He ran to pet and hug any animal that would accept it, and my heart broke as I watched him. My beautiful child, a wellspring of love; he needed more. He deserved more.

What could I do? Starting over takes time. Building from the ground up with only ideas and faith happens slowly, one miracle at a time. My son would have to wait for a string of miracles to give him the things he needed to feed his young life, even simple things. Like space.

I looked at the houses we passed on our walks. I focused on the smallest ones. How much could it cost to live in a small place like that? Look at the yard… J could dig in that dirt. There is even a fence. But fence after fence kept us out. I squeezed my son’s tiny hand. We walked on.

God is always listening. God is always working. God is always weaving. And, if we listen, God is always talking.

We went to play groups, as many as we could. We went anywhere just to have a place to jump and tumble and stretch, things the tiny house did not allow. Most of the children there were younger than mine, children awaiting the day when they would start preschool. We are unschoolers. That day, for us, was not coming. We just needed a place to play.

At one of our groups, I started chatting with one of the other moms. We seemed to have a lot in common, or I hoped we did. I hoped that making friends here would be easier for different people like us. When I found this mom shared so many of my own philosophies, I thought I’d hit upon a match.

After group one day, I invited her out for fries. As I asked, another mother I had been talking to walked by with her own little one. As she looked up, I saw something in her eyes. It flashed for a second before she turned her eyes to the floor and moved on. I watched her get into her car and my heart stirred. I heard God speaking. I had made a mistake. It was to this woman I should reach out.

The next time, I asked the her to join us for fries. Her name was Jessica. Fries and the park led to invitations to her house. The friend I had been hoping to make rose up in front of me. I had put my own ideas aside and listened to a movement in my heart. The voice of God said, “Embrace Jessica.”

As I was helping Jessica fold laundry one day she said, “I’ve been thinking about your living situation. We have a lot of space, Erika. Would you guys consider living here?”

My first reaction was fear. Change. Unknown. I hadn’t known Jessica very long. Images of the tiny house rose up in my mind. The meows and barks and all the things that came with such a menagerie also rose up. I was afraid. As challenging as the tiny house was, our friend there had been in my life a long time. She was very familiar. Jessica was new to us. I asked to keep the question open.

A few weeks later, J and I were in our car, driving away from the little house. A sudden complication of circumstances required quick thinking, and I called Jessica. “Can we come over, just for the night?” She was ready.

When we got there, she showed us to the extra bedroom downstairs. The comfortable room had an even more comfortable bed sitting in the middle of it. My little one and I climbed into it’s luxuriously downy arms, and he fell asleep.

Later, on the back porch with Jessica, we talked over the tumultuous events of the day. Tenuously, I explored the edges of her offer. What would life look like in this new place? How would these two families work together while maintaining their own identities and habits? I watched Jessica’s dark eyes while she talked. My trauma kept my emotions high, but inside something else was talking. God said, “Listen. Look at her eyes. Look and listen.”

One car load at a time, we moved our things. Fear bit at my nerves with every gesture. I prayed. When the fear would rise I would close my eyes. “I rest it all on you, Lord. Lead me. I will follow You.”

As our boxes arrive, Jessica moved hers aside. When we took a tentative step forward, Jessica’s arm swept the path clear. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Packing and moving made me nervous. Jessica came with us to the old place for support. Her dark, determined eyes flashed over the tops of our well-traveled boxes as she carried load after load with ferocity and gusto. My friend had become a kind of champion. As I watched her move, I let a little of my fear slip away.

Upstairs, I can hear the soft voices of Jessica and her oldest son. The baby is asleep, now. This is their time. My own sweet son sleeps on the downy bed in the next room while I expand my psychic energy to fill the 25′ length of this room. If I need to use the bathroom, ours is just a few feet away. When I get tired, a soft bed waits. A kitchen and a refrigerator are only feet away. God has done this for us, God and Jessica.

Jessica is a young mother. She is new here; and the house was too big for them. Our presence here is medicine for her family. I am an older mother. We are new here, too; and our house was too small. Our life here is medicine for our family.

Talking to Jessica is changing me. I am seeing myself through new eyes. When she hugs me and thanks me for being here, I am stunned with amazement and gratitude.

I apologize for my deficits. I apologize for being too strange. She says they aren’t deficits. She says I am not strange. She says I am different, and magical, and wonderful. I think I have given up blinking.

A few nights ago, I sat with Jessica. All the children were in bed. She was showing me the string tricks she had been teaching to her oldest. It had been years since I had seen those old tricks. I thought of those old days. I glanced down at my hands.

When I was a child, I had rubbed the back of my left hand with a pencil erase until all of the outer skin had come off. A self-made, concentrated friction burn. Richie Mylar had shown me that trick. It was the trick of a child in pain. Pain to pain, we passed it. It left a scar. I lived with that scar all of my adult life. I couldn’t believe how tenacious it was, that little scar from an erase burn.

I sat with Jessica. I looked down at my scar. It was gone.

I turned my hand towards the light. I stroked. I looked. Nothing.

The tension of all of our recent experiences pressed hard against my heart. Fear, worry, insecurity, self-loathing, doubt, anxiety, pain of every stripe. I looked at the back of my hand. Smooth. No more scar.

Behind me, the living green of the grass reaches all the way back to the woods. On the way, it skips over the sand pit where my son digs almost every day. At the edge of the far woods is a row of lush blackberries canes, dotted with the buds of new flowers. In our new home we are warm and safe. And we wait for the harvest.

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