After snapping the necessary first-day-of-school photo, my daughter and I hop into our light blue minivan. Her brothers started high school two weeks ago and since their school day begins much earlier than hers, they aren’t with us for this short ride. It’s the first time I haven’t taken a trio of kids to school in the morning, so this drive feels lonelier than usual. In the carpool line my daughter chatters and I pray over her first day, but there is a palpable empty space where her two brothers’ voices and frames were before.
The space aches.
After sending Faith off, I make the same drive in reverse. In one way the drive feels very familiar – just me and the tune sauntering from the radio. But in another way, the drive is unfamiliar as the space left fills with my burdened heart. Already hunched over from the heavy news of the world’s suffering, I remember afresh the death of a beloved actor. By the time my garage door closes and swallows my parked minivan, I am taken over by tears.
Of course I didn’t know Robin Williams, but I knew (and loved) his work. And not having his presence on this earth leaves an open space, an open space that aches.
It piles on top of other aches for losses felt in this world.
As I carry my tired self into the house, I realize the ache is a gift. It’s an arrow showing I don’t have my head buried in the sand as it points toward the importance of keeping my heart buried in prayer. So I pray for families desperate for relief from persecution. I pray for the families who loved Robin up close and personal. I pray for my family and for my growing kids.
I continue to think about this later in the day as I head to Target for a few groceries. When I’m done shopping, I roll my cart a little too quickly into the checkout lane, and my pint of blueberries backflips out of the cart. A hundred blueberries roll hither and yon. Awesome, I whisper with sagging shoulders. As I scoop up runaway blurry blueberries into my cupped hands, I can’t help wishing a heart in pieces could be cleaned up so quickly.
Then a Target employee with long brown hair glides up from nowhere with a broom and a bag, and she helps me clean up the mess before fetching me a new carton of blueberries. One soul can do that for another, help you through the mess. She can reflect Jesus Who is a helper, not a hinderer, Who is a burden-easer and shame-defyer. And what’s more, our Savior does this for all of us. He puts everything right again.
Long ago, one woman touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak and instantly He felt her silent plea for deliverance. Long ago, disciples tried to keep small children on the fringes of Jesus’ circles, but Jesus brought them close and told the disciples don’t you ever come between me and them. He listened and brought everyone’s everything into the center by cupping His heart around their own. He saw, spoke life, and made that life whole.
He does this today for you and me, too. Jesus feels and sees our aches and cups them close. Until that time when He comes again, may we see with eyes of faith and speak life to those around us. And may we allow our ache to move us toward the One Who makes all things whole and right.