There are pieces of me, the dirt under my nails and the scent of fresh tomato vines on my hands, that want to send you soft messages. Up-dates on our garden, our explosive zucchini, our days at the beach, hours in the sandbox, trails hiked, friends and family welcomed and basked in.
Yet, the weighted summer air has crept it’s way into a full-on summer assault. And as our hands are getting dirtier, baths are increasing with frequency and loads of laundry are building up with the fervor I wish ice cream would accumulate in my freezer I have to say, this summer has been heavy.
As we’ve created our gardens and a play-space for our girls (and a slew of neighborhood hoodlum), nurtured our seedlings into adolescence, broke out the bikes, grabbed our paddles and refused to let temporary life demands call us under a roof – life has continued.
A family member died after a long struggle against disease and the consequences of a life time of abuse. A dear dear friend died in a tragic car accident and I can’t help but wonder what life is going to be like with the inability to hear her voice again. Another friends’ significant other left her with only memories of abuse and a beautiful four week old daughter as the consequences of poverty continue to surround her. While a close friend works her way through a significant season of depression, another is slowing coming into a life of awareness after years of pain prescription medication addiction. And in the very same hour that Little Tomato re-named her Great-Grandma “Grammy”, her Grammy forgot her name, and mine. In addition there have been many spring births and a death that has no answers. Meals and visitations have been made as we, a community and family, look to one another and to God, for comfort, assurance, peace, a hug.
Not enough? A close family member was hospitalized this week for an issue deeply related to years of her fight against cancer, our truck died, our washing machine broke, in the last two weeks we have welcomed and and so deeply enjoyed the beauty of friends staying with us and I have begun to attend certification courses to become a Birth and Postpartum Doula and Breastfeeding Counselor.
Although many of these dark moments of life don’t ask for a significant commitment of time on my behalf, I’m experiencing a required extended energy as I work my way through the hours. Petitioning that there may be peace, that grief be carried lightly, that sorrow may be shared and that this beautiful sacred dance of grief and joy be embraced.
For as each of these experiences of death and pain and suffering occur, so, too, have moments of joy woven their way into our everyday.
And in the midst of our attempts to intentionally live our lives in the midst of chaos I have experienced a deep affirmation of our faith that God is the essence of love and knows our names.
Currently women at our church are working our way through the study, Namesake, by Jessica LaGrone. Throughout each study, each week, Jessica beautifully shows us the power of a name. The significance in the names we give ourselves as well as the transformational power God demonstrates through our “re-naming”, much like in the stories and lives of Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Naomi, etc.
I can’t help but find a deep comfort in this belief as I look back and reflect on the last five weeks.
That not only does God intimately know the name of our family member who has died, our dear friend who was killed, the abused, the abandoned, the saddened, the healing, the new births, the heart-breaking death – but like the story of Jacob, He has the power to transform, change and preserve their names, their stories.
Whether I am enjoying the hot sand under my bare feet or are running the soles of my Chacos into the black pavement, I have found that our stories are full of God’s intimacy. Although life as a whole can present overwhelming, each story is personally tied to the very breath of God and in that breath of submission there is hope.
Soon, posts of green summer lush will appear and like all seasons of hurt, frustration and pain, they will pass and words of sweet summer will appear. In the meantime though, may we all rest in the hope and peace of a new name. A name of hope, a name of intimacy, a name chosen in and through the love of God.