The world is a broken place. We need not look far to find evidence of this fact; it confronts us every day in our frailty, in our humanity, in the ways our own relationships falter and our own efforts fall short. Still, there are weeks when mankind’s desperate need for God seems to blazon itself across the sky, when the darkness has an especially potent feel to it. This past week was one of those weeks, a week in which we learned of the beheading of children on the other side of the globe, a week in which the killing of a young man caused a small town to tear itself apart, a week in which the bleakness of life became too much for a talented actor to face.
I consider these things as I rock my baby girl, as I lay her down in her crib for her morning nap, as I sing to her. I consider these things and others, too – the broken areas, areas of pain in my own life, the corner of my heart that knows (and will always and forever know, no matter how badly I may want to forget) that this date is an anniversary of sorts, that today marks one year from the day I said goodbye to my first daughter. I consider these things as I rock my baby girl.
The world can be such a big, scary, heartbreaking place and, try as I might, I will not be able to protect her from it forever.
* * * * *
I lay her down, such a small girl in such a big crib. I sing hymns of peace to her, soothing songs with words of comfort, and the incongruity of such a moment is not lost on me. How is it possible for this scene – this scene in this room in small-town America with the shades drawn and the Winnie-the-Pooh prints on the wall – how is it possible for this scene to exist in a world where wee ones are murdered for the faith of their parents? Why am I the mother given the grace to sing in peace and in security while other mothers grieve? How can I be the same woman who stood in this very nursery a year ago with the tears streaming down her face?
She is unsure of the crib. I’ve only just introduced it to her world and it is new and foreign and big, and she is so very small and alone in the middle of it. She looks up at me with big round eyes, and I smile down at her, stroke her head, sing calming songs. I think she senses I plan to leave her alone in this darkened room, and so she clings to me, wrapping five of her tiny fingers around one of mine. She fights sleep, fights it hard; every time her eyes begin to droop, every time her grip begins to relax, she starts, jerks her head and looks up at me as if to reassure herself that I am still there. She fears sleep if it means I am going to leave, fears being left by herself, fears facing the darkness alone.
Me too, sweet girl. Me too.
* * * * *
Eventually, finally, she can fight sleep no more and so she succumbs, gives herself over to it with the wild abandon of an infant. There’s something about a baby napping, some sort of peace that that is only found in the face of a slumbering child. Her eyes close and her breathing slows and she relaxes, completely and totally, knowing she is safe and loved and protected. She is so sweet, this sleeping child of mine, and I cannot help but smile as I watch her face, as I feel her small chest rise and fall with each breath.
The world is a broken place, but maybe this is what hope looks like on those days when it’s hard to see God working: to look into the face of a sleeping child and to know peace.