We’ve been waiting. And finally, it’s here.
Everyday (for the last two weeks), Sparrow, still in her pajamas and with sleep still clinging to her wispy hair, has tromped down the hill to the creek in search of marsh marigolds. The first of spring’s yellow-eyed wonders, these whimsical flowers litter the lowlands of our property. Drawing from the river that borders one side and the dappling creek on the other, the marigolds manage to hug the ground yet touch the sun. They are delightful and an object of Sparrow’s constant attention.
And a few days ago, they arrived. She’s picked them by the hordes, every flat surface of our house adorned with a vase. I relish in her obsession.
And today, we took a much anticipated walk across the river in search of fiddle-head ferns. Until today, the river was too high to cross. Certain that she would miss the glory of the fern’s unfolding, Sparrow fretted over the water level and even resorted to bargaining and pleading with us to ‘just carry her across’. Somehow, she survived the perilous wait and somehow, the water level receded. Today, we crossed and found, in abundance, the emerald heads of ferns tilting up and out to greet us.
She was obsessed and so was I. I didn’t need to relish in her delight; I had my own. A fiddle-head fern in its art of awakening is like a profound poem being scrawled on a page.
So spring has come. And we are in rejoicing. We aren’t just rejoicing. We are in the rejoicing. It has somehow become us and we it. So that we cannot separate our bones from its song, our way from its way.
And through this, we are drawn ever closer to the heart of the Creator, who made it all for His delight and instructed us to rejoice in it. How simple a command: rejoice in what I’ve made. How simple to obey.
And yet, I find myself tripping over an aspect of this. The Bible is riddled with verses reminding us to rejoice. Always, in all things, in suffering, in the Lord, in today, in truth, in His word, in our salvation. I could go on but will stop short and conclude that it appears as if we are to rejoice continually, because of and in spite of everything.
Fiddle-head ferns? Easy. Marsh marigolds? Obviously. Spring? Effortless. Sparrow & her effervescent zest for all things flora and fauna? Like breathing.
But praying for one thing and getting another? I admit I’m still on the yellow-brick road to the Emerald City of Rejoicing on this one.
I do believe I ought to divulge to the reader what prayer and answer I’m referring to. I hinted at it here but unless you are in my face-to-face community of friends and family, likely you didn’t know what I was referring to. So I will tell you: I am pregnant.
Now, before you judge me and say under your breath, How can she find it difficult to rejoice in such perfectly wonderful news? A baby! New life! allow me to share the back-story of my emotion.
Andy and I had been open to but not pleading for a second child for nearly five years. In honesty, we always felt our family was complete as a unit of three but we felt uneasy about shutting off the possibility altogether. That seemed too hasty and too short-sighted. So we said to ourselves if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, fine.
Those nearly five years passed by and lead to a conversation in which both Andy & I admitted to each other that we were ready to be closed to the idea. After so much time never becoming pregnant, we felt it wasn’t in the cards for us to have a second child. And frankly, we had great peace about that. I dare say we even rejoiced in it. We were blissfully happy, madly in love with our daughter and ready to move on to the next chapter of our lives (aka, the chapter in which we were parents of an independent, sharp-witted 5-year old as opposed to the chapter in which we were
indentured servants parents to an infant/baby/toddler.)
So, (and I apologize if this is too much information), we agreed to use vigilant protection during intercourse while we looked into permanent solutions.
During this, we also determined that I had an abundance of free-time that would only grow as Sparrow did. Believing whole-heartedly that time is a resource to be tithed just like money, we thought it prudent to ask God how He would like me to use my time. So we prayed and prayed. We fasted for many days. We sought and asked for discernment. I met with a dear missionary friend and talked about the needs in the over-seas mission field. I researched various graduate programs awarding degrees in everything from Global Public Health to Seminary to Creative Non-Fiction and Poetry. I reconsidered starting a wood-fired bread bakery. I considered writing a book. Writing songs. Volunteering at the food shelf. Starting a non-profit. Pretty much anything. And all the while, I day-dreamed about what the answer would be.
Well, friends. God was faithful in answering our fervent pleas for direction on how to tithe my time. Thing is, His answer wasn’t at all what I expected. Nor was it what any where close to what I had day-dreamed. And, to be dreadfully honest, I almost found His answer offensive.
After 5 years of nothing and 6 weeks of intentional avoidance, we were going to have a baby.
I can’t really express why this was so distressing to me. But it was. After holding out almost every option I could think of and saying pick one for me, God, the sovereign Creator of the universe chose the one thing I had left off the table and handed it to me. And forgive me for saying this, but I didn’t want what He had to offer.
I realize I can still do any of the afore mentioned things with a baby, albeit ever so much more challenging. But, it was the principal of the thing that I struggled with. I felt as though I had said: I can be anything, Lord! What do you want me to be? And He (in His infinite wisdom) said I want you to suffer under the weight of pregnancy, the despondency of labor and the arduous, unforgiving and seemingly endless fatigue of parenting an infant….
when He was really saying I want you to be the mother of one of my precious, immortal souls.
But I couldn’t see that at the time. And, to be honest yet again, I am just beginning to see that. It’s just in these days of spring, as I witness the world erupting with life and newness and the intended change of season, that my heart is able to understand that whatever my God ordains is right.
He draws the fiddle-head from its slumber at just the right moment. The marsh marigold opens at His beckoning call. He has given the symphony of seasons a tempo and they have willingly followed since the beginning of time. I have come to trust this. Sparrow is learning this and trusting it, too. Spring will always come after winter. Always. Even if it appears hopeless. Because He has ordained it, so it will be.
So, little heart of mine. If He is the Gentle Creator and you are but dust, does it not seem that what you too will awaken from slumber at just the right moment? Does it not seem that He knows what you need and when? Can you not trust the symphony He is making of your life?
Friends, pray this for me. Pray that I will trust, in abundance, the workings of His mighty hand. Pray that I will rejoice in His perfect ways. Pray that, since I had the nerve to ask, I would have the grace to accept His answer. Pray this for me, please. And I will pray it for you. We are all learning, in various degrees, what the fiddle-head already knows.
“You visit the earth and cause it to overflow; You greatly enrich it; The stream of God is full of water; You prepare their grain, for thus You prepare the earth. You water its furrows abundantly, You settle its ridges, You soften it with showers, You bless its growth. You have crowned the year with Your bounty, And Your paths drip with fatness. The pastures of the wilderness drip, And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing. The meadows are clothed with flocks And the valleys are covered with grain; They shout for joy, yes, they rejoice & sing.” Psalm 65: 9-13