comfort

Feel that sting?

Little Samuel points to the “boo boo” on his forearm, scrunches up his face and says: It stings, Mom.  Feel it.

I don't understand as he presses his wound against my forearm, holds it there.

His eyes fix upward on mine, searching: “Can you feel that sting, Mom?”

Oh.  I realize.  He believes he can transfer the physical pain, share it by touching skin to skin…

And I so want to say: Yes!  I do feel it exactly!

But even though I know what he is talking about, even though I deeply love and care, even though we share blood…I can only share his suffering so far.

I wish we could fuse minds and hearts…experience each other’s joy, pain, memories.  Sometimes life feels so…solitary.

So much of our lives are experienced apart from other human beings, even the ones in our homes, beds.

Only God knows the exquisitely unique joy you felt when you realized you’d fallen in love for real...or the burn inside your heart, throat, when you were betrayed...the falling feeling when you heard the doctor's prognosis...your insides alight when the lightbulb went on in your mind and heart...my loneliness that day I ate my lunch hiding in the bathroom stall in high school.

God knows...

And yet…it is enough.  Creator and Created are in sync.  We are never actually alone, even in our thoughts.  The Created are fully known.  The Created are fully loved.

The Created can touch wounds to our Maker’s heart: Feel that sting?

And He says: Yes. I feel it exactly.

This Old Dress

My favorites are 6-year-old skirts from TJ Maxx, one of which has a gaping hole in the top layer, soft t-shirts, and a dress from Old Navy whose elastic is stretched to the point of irrelevance.

I’d wear them every day if I could get away with it.  (I nearly do.)

The idea is to not feel seams or fabric or cinched waists.  Freedom Fashion.

Aren’t you, like me, tempted to make a whole life out of seamless, worn out threads? Free from irritants, or challenge,  or the discomfort of the untried?

Just think of what we could have avoided already…

trembling, red-faced auditions, failures, and rejections,

friendships that demand  that extra bit of patience or effort,

churches that challenge us to turn our theology, our souls, inside out,

painful conversations, confrontations, confessions…

There are songs we would not have writtem.  And dreams we’d not dream of dreaming.

Because the beauty of stretched skin demands a cost, yes.

But the beauty of stretched skin is a roomy radius of motion that makes the old comfort feel like a paralysis.

We thought we were free when we felt no rub.

But freedom is found in the ability to stretch limbs, reach high,

move joyously without (or through?) fear.

To dance life.

It involves some boundaries and many blisters.

But blisters soften.

And even an old dress was new once.