The shower is just a little too hot. I’m weak-kneed still from the work of bringing Jack into the world. I steady myself against the walls. I feel each minute pass. I feel the weight of the water, the easy way that I breathe. How I long for Jackson to know how easy it is to breathe. How I long for that miracle of breath, that gift, to have been given differently. How grateful I am, in the tangled way of things, that it is a gift God will not rest until He has given it.
Jesus and I have never before had so much and so little to say. I keep entering the throne room, watching and waiting, and I can’t see anything. And the throne room becomes the ocean and I am unsteady on my feet. My boat is gone, the night is thick and starless. And the ocean becomes the desert and I am the Israelites wandering their 40 years, every sky an impossible hope for manna. And the desert becomes the ark, and there is the steadiness of that water from the shower – the rain that falls, keeps falling.
The throne room is the ocean.
How many weeks did we walk on water, Jesus? How many hours did I lean late into the night, walk the space of Jackson’s room, the kitchen, the living room, praying the prayers I had never known to be possible? How many nights did You come towards me, those words repeated? Take heart. It is I. Do not be afraid. How long did we kneel together, Lord, the three of us somehow dwelling together in this feeble self of mine, in this feeble house? And it is here in the midst of the ocean that You declared Yourself King over the lights, the lives.
The throne room is the ocean, and the ocean is the desert.
The NICU measures the world in three hour increments. The lights do not tell time, and minute by minute, feeding by feeding, we watch the joy of our hearts grow, become more himself, reveal his personality: strong arms, strong legs. He sleeps like me, hands curled up by his face. I wonder every morning in the shower whether we might yet get a phone call, a miracle reported, whether we might walk in to discover everything changed. Morning by morning, no report comes back. I wake up each day desperate for manna. Jack grows, we rejoice. How many sets of three hours have I lived?
The throne room is the ocean, and the ocean is the desert, and the desert is the ark.
We have lived days and nights of rain, the seas swelling far higher than our small boat. We have lived inside the smallest perimeter – hallway and bed and bits of highway in between. We have lived, and are still living. We sent out a dove – we wait in the ark for the promise of dry land, the olive branch.
The throne room the ocean the desert the ark. They are one. They are the places of God’s unthinkable nearness. They are the places of encounter. They are the places where I walk out with my son, with our family now made more whole than we knew it could be, day by day, minute by minute. Your living is your prayer, my mother tells me. You are alive, you are still living. This is the prayer of the throne room, the ocean, the desert, the ark. God is unthinkably close. The world is difficult, beautiful, and new.
He will not rest until every good gift has been given.