There are afternoons when I hide in the doorway between our master bathroom and our closet and cry because I don’t know what to do. I was told that mothers have instinct and intuition, but mine has only ever stretched so far after all these years.
The end of winter feels like an awkward dance in Indiana. The weekly forecast on my phone looks drunk and unpredictable today. A series of overcast days with empty gray skies is sandwiched between days of crisp air and sunshine. We are all waking from hibernation, stumbling forward into hopes for warmth and life, then backward as we reach for our winter coats again.
At the bus stop this morning, I heard a cardinal’s song, calling out to the other neighborhood birds. My son and I waited on the sidewalk in our puffy, worn-out coats, while the surrounding streets were covered in a blanket of birdsong. He held my hand until the bus came into view. I squinted to see the cardinal’s bright red chest sitting at the top of the tree near us like a crimson crown, the sun reaching for me, reminding me how powerful light is.
Maybe the birds not only call to each other but also call to every silent, sleeping thing, deep in the dark dirt. This morning, it felt like they were calling to the corner cavities of my heart. What if the end-of-winter birdsong is actually a war cry? What if spring has to fight to rise again, too?
Some transitions have come unwelcome, knocking me down, and stealing the wind from my lungs. But there are others that I plead and pine for.
Our family has been longing for change in a specific area, but the progress has been so slow. We’ve been assured that these things take time, that sometimes we will take two steps forward, then take a big step back, but that this dazed dance is indeed, progress. My spirit is dizzy from all of the motion.
Well-meaning friends ask us how things are going. And many days, I don’t know. I’m ashamed to not have more promising answers. One day things look hopeful, and the next leaves me in the doorway between our bathroom and closet again.
The popular saying is true: it takes a village to raise a family. But relying on a village isn’t as feel-good as it sounds on paper. Carrying one another’s burdens isn’t sexy; it’s sweaty and wearisome. We all want a victory story to celebrate, but there are challenges we face that don’t have answers. And some of them move in and stay.
Four years ago, when our family was walking through a different transition, I asked a few close friends to check in on me if I went dark for too long. I knew my tendency was to hide in times of struggle. One friend started texting me every day. Text message notifications chipped away at my shame with one small ding after another. I wanted to respond that things were just fine when they weren’t but felt compelled to say how scared I was instead. The thing is, this friend still checks in most days, four years later. It looks like a simple “hey,” but these faithful check-ins have become more like little war cries. When one of us isn’t sure we can stand another week of dancing backward steps, we remind each other that at the right time, spring always stands up to winter.
I’ve heard people say that duty is an enemy of adventure, and loyalty is boring. But duty keeps proving to be the backbone of love, and loyalty has been the strength God’s offered our family through community over the last four years.
Northern cardinals stay around throughout all four seasons here. The Crayola-red males and the dusty rose-colored females are easy to spot amongst a backdrop of skinny, skeletal trees, and white, winter snow. They flit and fly, foraging for their daily needs in silence. They hold space with their presence, showing up day in and day out, a bright spot of color in the cold.
Love cannot suffer long in the spring seasons of our lives. It’s the winters of our lives when we find the irreplaceable gift of God’s patient presence. It’s during the coldest months when we are forced to depend on one another for the warmth we can’t muster on our own. It’s the gunmetal, gray-sky days when my nose is swollen, my eyes puffy, I have no song to sing, and all I can do is simply ask God to “please, give us this day our daily bread,” that Love shows up again, stable and steady.
Love keeps showing up for this awkward dance of two steps forward, then one step back, and for today, it is more than enough.
Love keeps showing up for this awkward dance of two steps forward, then one step back, and for today, it is more than enough. -@tashajunb: Click To Tweet