I was in latent labor with my youngest for almost three weeks. I went into the hospital over labor day weekend because I felt like I was in labor. They sent me home, but it scared me enough that I decided to stop going to work an hour from my home and midwives lest I be that girl who gives birth on the side of highway 400. Besides, this baby was coming any second. My baby came on her due date three weeks later, September 20th, only because I went into the hospital still contracting, but not seriously, and refused to leave until my midwife broke my water against her better professional judgement. Thankfully I did not blog through all of this. My Facebook posts from that time are pathetic enough.
There is this thing that people say to you, when you are hugely pregnant and completely miserable. They smile at you and say, “well, no one stays pregnant forever!” Which, I suppose is true, but it still makes you want to smack them. How, do they know you aren’t going to be the first? But of course, you aren’t and then you have this hilarious one year old toddling around and you laugh at the whole thing. It becomes a one-up story for the times you are at parties with other moms,” oh yeah, I was in labor with that one for three weeks!” Hilarious! You forget how hard that waiting was, just how much work it is to wait for something you are completely sure of.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
We lost my grandfather this last Tuesday. My sisters and I will be singing “Blessed Assurance” at his memorial service this coming Saturday. We are mourning the loss, but my family has a peace about it that can only be described as supernatural. Death has a way of bringing you face to face with your beliefs.
Do I really believe this? Do I really believe that the God of the universe came down as a baby to give to the world the gift of eternal salvation just 33 years later by his death on a cross and resurrection from the grave? Do I really believe that my grandfather’s belief in this story, my belief in this story, ensures that I will see him again?
Turns out, I do.
Angels, descending, bring from above, Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
I do, and I believe that the universe has been echoing this story of mercy for as long as it has existed, from the birth of babies made the standard way, to the northern lights Margaret Feinberg wrote about in her new book Wonderstruck. She writes beautifully about these echoes and whispers. (I had no interest in ever seeing those until I read the first few chapter of this book.) I have been hearing these echoes and whispers this week as I hold back the grief until I can get out of my classroom and with my extended family.
Watching and waiting, looking above, Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
It is a hard reminder that we live in a fallen world, death. But even as I tell the students who have caught me crying that it is sad, but happened the best way possible I can feel the twinge in my spirit. This was not the original plan. And I hear the echo, you will get to see him again. Not just him but my grandmother on my mom’s side we called Grammy, my great grandmothers I only have the faintest memories of, my cousin Rachel. We will be together one day.
So we wait. Watching and waiting, our postures spell out the hope that we have. We look above, knowing that there is something more. It is a posture I have seen in the bodies of the people who have lost the most. They also have the most to hope for.
Lately, this waiting feels like work. I often think of hope as a light and fluffy word, but there is a deep weight to the truth of its promise. There is a work of a heavy burden getting ready to push its way into this world. It is hard, it is slow, it is painful. But this world is not forever, no one stays here forever, which is as beautiful a sentiment as it is a terrible one.
Sometimes hope is delightful, but often it is hard, and painful, waiting for something you are completely sure of. But then, it is here, it is beautiful and wonderful and perfect, this thing that you hoped for was more than you imagined and the waiting fades into a distant memory.