something happened today. it was one of those times, those rare and precious times, when the layers of reality seemed to be peeled back and i could see what was happening. what was really happening. and because i had "eyes to see" i could respond appropriately. meaningfully. beautifully.
we were at a children's art/play studio and with just moments before we had to leave noah decided to paint a masterpiece. it was very fun to watch. he took great care, used lots of colors, and filled the brush to capacity with gloppy, bright, paint for each stroke. the result was something to be proud of and he beamed. as i tried to lift it from the easel the paper groaned under the weight of all that paint. i shuffled over to the drying rack but realized i didn't have any time to wait. i had to load up, get home, put the baby down for a nap, prepare snacks, and quickly straighten up the house before guests would arrive. people i didn't know well and who had never been to my house. i loaded up my diaper bag, cooler, the baby and the hefty work of art that was literally dripping as i walked out. i was instructed to be very careful by the artist and careful i was. things were going alright until, well, we opened the door. you see, we live in oklahoma. you know where "the wind comes rushing down the plain". well, the wheat wasn't waving, but the large paper canvas sure was.
i can't really convey the far reaching impact of this moment. the paint didn't just smear all over my favorite sweater or the diaper bag and cooler i was carrying. it stained noah's new shoes getting into cracks and crevices and laces where no soap or scrubbing could ever completely remove. the sidewalk, the door of our van, the windshield, hands, feet, carseats all forever marked. it was an explosion of non-toxic, yet very permanent, non-washable paint. it impacted everything, even things it didn't touch, the paint actually flew off the page and muddied everything in its path.
there was no putting this off. if there was any hope of some kind of restoration i had to start scrubbing now. but there was an explosion of another kind happening simultaneously. and it required immediate attention as well. and it was not a physical one. it was of the emotional kind and the effects last even longer than non-washable paint. i didn't want to clean up an emotional mess. i was already behind schedule and very frustrated with the physical mess before me. and the emotional mess was expressing itself in an ugly tantrum. when i see tantrum i want to correct, to discipline, to bring my child to compliance. but in that moment i saw beyond the paint, beyond the tantrum, and right into the pain of my child's heart. the glimpse i was given was a gift. it was not of this world. i heard noah's words...
it's not how i did it!!
it isn't fair!
i worked so hard to make it perfect!!
i used all the colors and did the sun just right and added birds!
i'm never coming out of here the rest of my life!
it's all your fault!!!
why did you do that!?!?!?!
you messed it up!!
now what am i going to do?!"
and then i heard what he was really saying.
"why didn't they love me?
why didn't they keep me?
why didn't things go the way they were supposed to?
who can i blame because if it's my fault it's too painful!"
because i could hear him, truly hear him, i could put aside the impending stains and the time constraints and tend to his exposed wounds. to let him be hurt. to let him express his anger. because it's big. and it deserves attention. even at the worst possible time. grief doesn't make an appointment. so, when she shows up, my schedule must be cleared. may God give me eyes to see every time she knocks on our door and let me invite her in and be a gracious host.