But Joy Comes In The Morning

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B_Holly-750

I still shake my head every time our eyes meet.

His being here, moving and breathing among us? It is still so often magical and mystical that I sometimes believe that surely he must return to the land of the fay people with each waxing and waning of the moon. I sometimes hesitate to squeeze his chubby body for fear that he might very well disappear into the ether as a result of my embrace, leaving only the smell of sun and milk and sweet zephyrs in his wake.

But, thankfully, he is very much here. The middle of the night cries and the ceaseless exploration of every little thing prove such. He may very well still have one foot in a land that we cannot see but his heart has linked with each of ours, right here, in ways too innumerable to articulate.

And the joy! Oh the joy he brings. Of course, babies are always ripe with love and goodness and gifts untold, but this child? He right drips with gladness and to be in his orbit is to, daily, be awash in the gift of now.

He has been like this from the very beginning. It is no small thing that he is named Samuel, which means “God has heard” for he has been the answer, over and over again.

When my mother was undergoing chemotherapy this past year, he was her napping buddy, sidling up alongside her, gazing soulfully into her eyes, studying her every shape and line. I believe they exchanged holy whispers in those moments. He, still so fresh from God, tethered her to the here and now and reminded her of life’s cycle and how it is a blessing to walk its arc, hand in hand. She, dancing perilously close to the edge, surely murmured truths about the power of love and forgiveness and how they are really all that matter in the end. And between them both, flints of joy were ignited in the deep places.

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I have struggled with a long grief since my mom’s passing this Spring. Despite walking with her through her illness, I was woefully ill-prepared for the depth of sadness and muddling confusion that would ensue upon losing her, the one whom I first loved. More days have found me muted and brooding than awake and alive. And every day has found me looking for that which I have lost but cannot seem to find.

My better days, the ones in which I believe there are still gifts in the world, have often been because of Sam. God heard, and most certainly knew, what my heart would need in order to navigate this grief journey.

It needed joy. It needed love. It needed to be accepted, no matter my emotions.

So it was that, on a day last week, God “heard” again. Samuel and I were busy exchanging silly faces and funny sounds, laughing and giggling. For the first time in a very long time, I was truly present in the moment. And then, in a flash of whimsy, Samuel exploded with gleeful squeals and I threw back my head in laughter. My mom used to laugh the same way. I was surprised at both the measure of my enjoyment and the familiarity of the exercise but, even so, I handed myself over completely to the release.

When I finally caught my breath and looked sidelong at Samuel I found him laughing just as uproariously. He was watching my body sway and lilt, reading the angle and pitch of my person and he was laughing right alongside of me.

And suddenly I knew a truth with a surety that could not be denied. “He delights in you,” I thought to myself. “That child is laughing at your joy and he delights in you.”

In that very exchange of mirth I suddenly and profoundly understood: It is the same with God.

God, too, delights in me. God sees me. God hears me. God delights in me. 

Despite my sadness, my bad days, my not bouncing back as quickly as I would like, God still looks upon me with pleasure. I am not required to break through this grief and emerge whole on the other side before I find favor with the Lord. In fact, I don’t have to do anything. In this moment, with this blink, with this sigh, with this letting go–God delights in me.

And that is how the joy of the Lord has become my strength.

Selah.

“You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
And your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
But you shall be called My Delight Is In Her,
And your land Married;
For the Lord delights in you…”

Isaiah 62:4 NRSV

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Image of the adorable, smiling Samuel by Holly Grantham

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