when the promises are in the distance, waiting to be welcomed home

I read Micha Boyett’s words and my breathing slows. She gives perspective. And hope. And a refreshing lightness to not take what doesn’t matter too seriously. She revives: When you order the tangle of your days around Him, He untangles you. She moves: The moments all matter. The daily awareness of the small add up to the whole of your life, and her words are like a dawn, stirring you to wake and walk. It’s a grace to welcome Micha Boyett to the farm’s front porch today…

by Micah Boyett

We’re way behind schedule when we walk in the door and I call out a litany of frantic mother phrases, “Shoes off! Hands washed!

August-do-your-reading-for-ten-minutes!” while I lay Ace on the quilt in the living room and toss a couple of toys his way before starting dinner.

Brooks is not happy about my plan for fish tacos.

He’s on the verge of a meltdown all the time right now. He whines in the kitchen and I ignore his protests.

Monica Ayers photography

Monica Ayers photography

“Sometimes you like dinner and sometimes you don’t and that’s just how it goes, darlin.” I say. The last remaining bits of my Texas drawl show up when I lecture my children. Can’t help it.

August is not whining. He’s in his room with his nose in a book about snakes.

I breathe out a Thank you, Lord for that reality.

He’s seven now and beginning to overcome his temper. Asking him to read for ten minutes last year might have erupted in a full-blown big kid tantrum.

And, bless it, my child is actually doing what I asked.

Brooksie takes his whining away from the kitchen. The fish is salted and peppered and ready to go on the pan. I’m moving from fridge to cutting board, listening for Ace, watching the timer for August’s reading. Chop the onion, slice the avocado.

I hear Brooks’ little four-year-old voice. He speaks quiet: “You are the cutest baby in the whole world, little Acer. Cutest little baby in the whole world.”

I put down my knife and peek into the room next door, where Brooks is on his belly, his chin propped up by his hands. Ace is on his back, his neck contorted in that way only babies can bend.

He’s staring at his big brother in awe.

Brooksie sings, “I am Ace-y, I am Ace-y. I’m a sweet little boy! I am Ace-y, I am Ace-y. And I bring so much joy!

“Careful with your kisses, Brooksie!” I call from the doorway of the kitchen. Brooks is covering Ace’s face with wet smooches, and Ace is grunting his discomfort.

The giver of the kisses lets go and turns his head to me, still hovering above his brother’s face. “Mama, look. I can’t stop. He’s just too cute.”

. . .

Ace is four and a half months old.

He just learned to roll from his back to his belly yesterday. He had no idea what happened but found himself face down on his blanket. He got his neck raised high enough to find me with his wide, confused baby eyes. How did I get here, Mom?

Ace loves to lick cloth. No pacifiers for him: only blankets and stuffed animals, and whatever t-shirt he is near, as long as he can lick it. He loves to stare at me—his mama—and when he catches my eye his smile explodes. He’s got ocean blue eyes and the face of a baby doll. He has Down syndrome.

. . .

I’ve been thinking about Hebrews 11 lately. That part in verse 13 when the people who have lived by faith are described as “still living by faith when they died.” Scripture says, “They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance . . .”

Welcome. Hospitality. What does it mean to be hospitable to the promises of God?

Maybe welcoming God’s promises requires the same sort of hospitality we give any guest who arrives at our home: preparation, waiting, making room for the promise to have seat at the table, even as it’s still far off in the distance.

So I’m making space in my spirit for the promise of God’s goodness.

I’m setting the table, sweeping the floor, looking for the promise that God is making all things good in this moment, right now:

as Ace learns to use his mouth so he can one day speak,

as his brothers learn to love Ace’s uniqueness as much as they love what makes him like everybody else,

as I learn to receive Ace’s developmental differences and call them beautiful.

Here’s the thing with hospitality: I don’t get to treat God’s promises like something I own or deserve.

True hospitality is not begrudging the guest, demanding anything of it.

Hospitality is simply inviting God’s promises to have a seat at the table, whether or not I understand them, whether or not I can claim them right now.

Faith is setting a place for them, offering them tea. Having tea with the promises in the silence.

And faith acknowledges that sometimes God’s promises wait in the distance. Pain waits there too.

. . .

How are you doing?

Friends want to know. I’m almost five months into a new life as the mom of a special needs child and what can I tell them except that I am in love with Ace?

I tell them he is perfect. Never has a baby been so sweet and generous to his mama. He sleeps well, he smiles always. He cries only when completely necessary. And he waits for us to love him. He giggles and wiggles and snuggles up better than any baby I’ve ever known. He lays his head on my chest while he looks at the world.

How am I doing? I am loving my baby.

And still I know that loving him is going to hurt more and more the older he gets. He will be teased. He will be misunderstood. His brothers will at times feel overshadowed by the height and depth of his differences.

It will hurt when Ace struggles.

It will hurt when we watch him race to keep up with the other typical kids on the soccer field.

It will hurt when he works harder and longer to learn to talk and walk and write his name and read.

Listen, I want to know right now if Ace will go to college.

I want to know if he’ll find a job he loves.

I want to know if he’ll have girlfriend or even a real friend, a friend who will love him without pity, without obligation.

I want to know if he will live on his own or if my older boys will feel the burden of caring for him when my husband and I aren’t able to.

And if they do, will they be bitter? I worry about these things every day. Can I be the mom he needs, the mom who can balance pushing him toward independence while still protecting him from a brutal world?

. . .

“Mama, Daddy told me you both cried when you found out Ace had Down syndrome,” August says as we walk the block from his school to the car. “Why did you cry?”

The promises wait in the distance where the pain waits. They wait together in the space where God is.

And God is here too. With August and me. I push Ace in the stroller and Brooks is up ahead shooting down the sidewalk on his scooter.

“Well,” I pause, gathering my words. “We cried because we love Ace and we didn’t want anything to hurt him. And we knew Down syndrome would make a lot of things harder for him.”

“And it also made him the cutest baby, right?”

“Yeah. Totally the cutest.” I smile at August and wonder what a seven year old can know about the gift he’s been given: how Ace will form how his brothers see God, see the world. There are promises waiting for August in this story too.

When you pass through the waters I will be with you.

I have called you by name, you are mine.

We see the promises from a distance and will we welcome them?

“Brooksie, slow down buddy!” I yell down the sidewalk past the kids and adults walking toward the street corner.

Brooks waits for us and the crossing guard holds up her stop sign. We cross.

Forward, forward, in this moment and always moving toward the next one.

Moving up ahead.

Up ahead where the promises wait.

 

 


Micha (pronounced “MY-cah”) Boyett is a writer, blogger, and sometimes poet.  A former youth minister, she’s passionate about monasticism and ancient Christian spiritual practices and how they inform the contemporary life of faith. She is the author of Found: A Story Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer Boyett and her husband live in San Francisco with their three boys. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook, Instagram, and her blog

I read Micha’s words in Found: A Story Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer and my breathing slows. She gives perspective. And hope. And a refreshing lightness to not take what doesn’t matter too seriously. The daily awareness of the small add up to the whole of your life, and her words are one of the most beautiful, memorable reads, like a dawn, stirring you to wake and walk.

 

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