Woody Allen once said that 90 percent of life is just showing up. Many - or most - days, that feels like all I've got: I drag my body out the door. I do so -- with one kid over each arm...(and each leg); with one foot in front of the other; with lunch bags, diaper bags, grocery bags; with Elmo on one side of my brain and work spreadsheets on the other; with dinner time, bath time, bed time; and then - repeat. I know every drive-through Starbucks within a 30 mile radius.
In the midst of such movement, such constant nurturing and loving and sheltering and guiding...it can feel impossible to have a thought or conversation outside of the minivan.
A few weeks ago I had one of those weeks. I was working on two deadlines for two different contracts; the house was absolute chaos; and I had somehow volunteered to have a group of women from our new church to tea. This would have been delightful had I been inviting people over to someone else's house, which would clean, and organized, and not smell at all like burnt popcorn.
But they were coming, and I was hosting, and I had not yet convinced the toddler to change out of his pajamas. I glanced at the clock on our wall. One hour. I unwisely checked my work e-mail. More edits to the previous draft I had submitted, and "could I take care of this now?" I could feel my blood pressure rising.
And then, a remarkable thing happened. Nothing got done. I decided instead to open the door and engage with my children. It was cold and snowy outside. We baked. Nothing else got done. The house was vacuumed but that was it. The writing was left until the afternoon, and I stopped trying to squeeze the two year old out of his elephant footies. I poured a cup of coffee (wisely), sat down with the lincoln logs and toddler, and the smell of baking bagels, and waited. And the ladies came, and we talked, and it was wonderful.
Coincidentally, we talked about the feeding of the 5,000. Now, in hindsight, and in the light of these frenetic activities, I have been considering all those people -- those random, un-named "5,000 plus women and children" people who traipsed themselves out of bed one day, children in tow, across a lake, up a hill... to listen to Jesus and see what would happen next. These people hit the baseline denominator -- they were there -- and still, these people were fed. They were not next to Jesus, as Susana or Joanna were; they were not carrying the baskets of bread or witnessing the miracle; they might not even have known how it came about that they were fed. But that's just the point: regardless, they were fed. Many days I feel that this is also where I'm at: I am on the outskirts of the crowd, wanting to seek Jesus, hoping to press in, wanting to love my children and engage with them and play and meet their needs, but at the same time I'm tired, and distracted, and chasing little footsteps and listening to who hit whom and thinking about what type of toast we need and wondering WHERE we have put all the matching socks. It feels impossible to get up close, to do ministry like the apostles, or like the other women who are Right There. And yet, I see that this is okay, or even appropriate for this season of life. When I have left my own wants and needs behind to love someone else, I am following Him. I am making the attempt to cross the sea with the children, to leave my comfort behind, to not think about all the practical excuses not to do so, and to follow Him up the hillside. And there, admist all my other duties and requirements, it is when I am in His Presence -- even if I am in His presence with sippy cups, granola bars, and half a focused brain -- He feeds me. He gives me exactly what I need, even if I don't know it.
And so I resolve to keep showing up. One foot in front of the other, out the door, even it if it is just out the door of myself. And this week, I resolve that these some of these steps during the daytime will lead me into the Sanctuary. Yes, by myself, with the toddler, with the baby, maybe even with the Kindergardener and Pre-schooler, just to be there. I'll sit in a pew, it will be noisy, and I will say Thank You. And then I'll pick Thomas the Train Engine off the church floor, and carry on.