Treasuring and Pondering

If I could master one skill in the blink of an eye, it would be taking a really good photograph.  Aperture and exposure. Focus.  Pictures that reveal random slices of time where you catch your breath.  Moments that attach themselves to your heart and penetrate, making a collage of the miraculous and the mundane.  A portrait of something bigger than we could ever understand.  I’m convinced that each picture, the ones that strike a chord, are small deposits of truth and goodness and God.

My littlest was walking into school a few weeks ago and I watched from a distance to make sure he made his way.  While there was a 0% possibility of him getting lost (no exits and teachers stationed every 10 feet all the way to his classroom), I considered these few seconds in my morning to be a privilege.  I liked to watch so I could see his little blond curly head enter the building (read: responsible mama). And truth be told, I just liked watching that little blond curly head (read: just mama).

As he walked along, I smiled when I saw him falling into step with our pastor.  Littles looked up and they started shooting the breeze as only good friends separated by three feet and 60 years can.  Littles regularly supplies this man with enough three-year-old artwork to travel to the moon and back (about the same amount of love our boy has for its recipient).  So, the boy might have been talking about his latest art project.  Or the pastor’s sweet wife (another beloved soul to this child). Or about how he prays for the tall man next to him, multiple times a day, storming the gates of heaven asking God to heal him of his cancer.  Whatever it was, simple or profound, it was between the two of them.  I was not meant to hear.

Then it happened.  A small deposit of goodness.  Right before they went out of my line of vision, I saw our pastor lean down and kiss the curly haired boy on the top of his head.  Click.  It was a moment that took merely seconds.  And that was it.  They walked into the building together and their day went on.

But it took my breath away.  I sat watching, that sweet moment in time just lingering in the solitude of my car.  Neither the tall nor the short one knew I was there but I felt as if God had tapped me on the shoulder.  “Watch this. Treasure this.”  He granted me the perfect picture to capture in my mind of a boy and a godly man we love.  It was a picture in a family album that I treasure.  It attached itself to my heart.

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

I suddenly started understanding what Mary kept doing, long ago, with all the treasuring and the pondering as holy life happened around her.  For Mary, it usually involved people doing, saying, revealing truth about our Lord, her son.  God gave her beautiful pictures, probably even more clear than my own.  Small snippets, so sweet and so poignant, the only thing she could do was to treasure them.  Ponder them.  Each one bringing her closer to the Artist who designed them.

The curly haired boy has traveled down that same walkway countless times since.  Each time it makes me smile because he does not know I’m watching his little body make its way forward into the day.  It pushes me forward a little too, reminding me that God can surprise me with a priceless image at any moment as long as my eyes are open to it.  And so I will treasure and ponder on, just like Mary.  I’ll be the one in the carpool line, flipping through the photos, catching glimpses of the holy life happening around me.


He’s In the Room

I wasn’t focused on a whole lot other than checking our middle son into Children’s Hospital.  Middles has a medical condition that affects his lungs and he was battling a tough pneumonia bug.  His lung function was bad, he had been sick for two weeks—I was glad to be in a place where the professionals could take over my heavy burden.

They were hooking him up to IV’s and getting him x-rayed when they told us what room we’d be in—Room 316.  My husband looked at me and said, “That’s significant, don’t you think?”  316.  John 3:16.  “Yeah,” I smiled.  It never hurts to have the most popular Bible verse of all time as your room number.

Now if you’ve spent any time at Children’s Hospital, you know that it is a remarkable place—one that is equal parts wonderful and horrifying.  You can just as easily meet a clown or a Golden Retriever named Shadow walking down the hallway as a father, collapsed on the floor, sobbing.  There’s relief and laughter sharing thin walls with despair and fear.  So when I stood outside Luke’s room one night, raw from seeing so much real life under one roof, I could only pray, “God, my son is in that room.”  And He brought me back to 3:16.  And whispered, “Yes, I know.  My Son is in that room too.”

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son.  And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life” (The Message).

It’s good to be reminded that regardless of what is going on in the world (most immediately, my son), it’s all about the Son.  Trouble in this life?  There’s a little miraculous thing called eternal life.  Your heart loves a person in there?  Let me tell you about a radical love that rocked the universe in the form of one man.  And He came for that kid in room 316.  And for his mama outside the door.

I’m convinced it’s times like these that God holds me close, opens my eyes a little wider.  He fills my heart with moments that make my spiritual bones stronger and less likely to fracture under the burdens of this life.  Amongst many other things that happened during that time in the hospital, God made sure to put us in room 316 for a reason.  He wanted me to know that He was, most definitely, in the room.