It’s long after I turn the last light out.
Long after that I hear the back door open and close.
That I hear the footsteps.
“Hey…” Who comes in through the door, comes in from the dark?
“‘Night, Mom.” Ah… his voice. Firstborn.
“You okay?” I can hear him lean against the railing at the top of the stairs.
“Yeah…” He can’t know that Mamas hear heartache a country mile away. “Just went for a walk down the back lane.”
The moon’s laying wide planks of light down through the spruce trees. It has to be after 11:00.
“Find any thoughts?” I sit up in bed, watch through the open door his shadow along the far wall. His shadow so tall.
“Just…” His shadowed hands stuff deep in his pockets… “Just thinking….Sixteen years is a lot of time.”
And it’s a blink when you’re a mama, and enough to make a man. Just a turn and the late night rockings turn to late night talking and souls need soothing more than skin and the son and the mother, we are not who we were in the natal beginnings and we still are, love an umbilical cord that’s never cut, us changing and still remaining, us moving to outer rims and still touching.
He did blow out candles this month. This, is this what he feels — Years, they run liquid, everything running through and on and gone, you wanting to hold onto something.
“Just…” He looks for words and I watch his shadow and let him have the space to wrestle, to say things without looking into a face. Sometimes simply in saying things outloud, answers echoes.
“Just… “ He strains for words, to squeeze who he is into mere letters and sounds. Strange, how you can be in your skin and feel another soul struggle hard, how you can strain with them too. Maybe mamas always live with a bit of retained heart, a bit of the child that never leaves your inner walls, always feel them stirring under the skin of your yearning prayers.
“Just…” He turns towards the door… “What am I doing with my life?”
The knot in his voice twists me a bit and his question, does it echo the whole of us looking for answers?
What am I really doing with my one life, this one wondrous grace that moves like grass in the wind, this one brief blink of earthly existence that holds all our eternity and before it’s too late, on and gone?
“I made a list last month… “ His wrestling, its moved him to the door way, him looking for a way through, an opening.
“I made this list and… nothing. All these things I was going to have done by the first of June — and nothing. I’ve got not one one of them done.”
Apples, they never fall far from trees.
And dust is dust and our DNA is of a fallen people and do I tell him the things I don’t have done from six months ago and how I swim hard and upstream and the banks of it all only seem to slip backwards, me failing and flailing and falling?
“Son — “ I can hardly bear it, how his voice trembles, how he keeps pacing, turning… wrestling. “Son — How can I help?” Even the flailing can try to throw lifelines. “What is it you want to do?”
What does a 16-year-old need to get, accomplish, do — a driver’s licence? his lifeguard’s? a summer job?
He forgets the 100% on his Omnibus exam? The Mennonite woodworker who invited him to come apprentice for the summer?
That we love him just because he is?
“It’s not…. grades…” He’s brimming. “It’s not … even… a list… It’s…” He leans, the door frame holding up his breaking and falling frame.
And then it comes, a dam busting hard in the dark and it comes, truth, a torrent, and it comes, what is coming…
“It’s just that someday, on Judgement Day, I’m going to stand before Jesus and what will I have to show for any of this? For sixteen years? What if — what if you realize everything you’ve ever done is just —- straw?” He turns away from the door.
What he’s squeezed into words, it’s tight in my throat.
I can only whisper it:
“Your life can never burn up like straw if you burn love for Jesus. That is all.”
“And what if…” Did he hear me?
What were those words I had read tonight? About the real question of humanity, that one cure for all the hurts us, the only answer for the questions in the dark?
“There is but one cure for the ills of man… When my conscience accuses me, there is but one thing I know of that can give me rest and peace.
It is to know that Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, who bore my sins “in his own body on the tree,” has forgiven me. It is to believe and to know that because He loved me and died for me, I am clear of accusation.
Then, conscious as I am of my weakness and failure and my lack of power to live a life worthy of the name, I am again driven back to Him.
It is only from Him and the power of the Holy Spirit that He imparts that I can be made more than a conqueror.
As I contemplate meeting my Maker and eternal judge, my only hope is that I shall be clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ and that He will take me by the hand and present me “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).
It is always and only in Christ that I find satisfaction. It is only in Him that my problems are solved.
The world with all its methods cannot help me at the moment of my greatest need.
But Christ never fails. He satisfies always and in every respect. The more I contemplate Him, the more I do agree with Charles Wesley when he said:
Thou, O Christ, art all I want:
More than all in thee I find!
He still remains the only hope for individual man, the only hope for the whole world.
Is the Gospel still relevant? It alone can deal with and solve the problems of man.”
“What if… ” His back’s still turned, him bearing it all and not able to bear a face looking in, and how do I give him anything of the one thing for our one. life …
“What if the worst of it is — if twelve hours from now … it’s just business as usual?”
“But what if…” I sit on the edge of the bed, the edge of the rim between us…
Can any words bridge space, be an umbilical cord, be a lifeline…yes, tether us to God? I pray they come…
“What if in all the problems and needs and pain —
What if grace holds us and love keeps us and the Cross of Christ forms the beams of our life?
What if — we just had to stay fixed on Jesus?”
What if — The Door — really is the door?
He leans in the frame and in his moving, his turning, there is light, a widening…
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24
Just– Thank you…. Instead of scratching things out here yesterday… I spent the time with that son, walking through doors, laughing and enjoying and loving. Thank you for grace.
Every Wednesday, we Walk with Him, posting a spiritual practice that draws us nearer to His heart. To read the entire series of spiritual practices
Next Week, might we explore: The Discipline of Living Christ-CentricWhat does it mean to live with Jesus in the center of our lives?
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