In me, there is a nudge. Some call it intuition, some call it the voice of God. Once, a long time ago I ignored a nudge.
After weeks in Africa, we were docked in the Canary Islands. We had bought fresh cheesy pizza. It was tucked away in its cardboard box. We laughed as we strolled towards the docks, back to the ship we were living on. I could already taste the delicious cheesiness after weeks of foods foreign to me.
My mouth was watering in anticipation. Then I saw him. He sat on a bench, showing all the signs of someone who did not have regular access to a home, a shower, or perhaps even food, at least not fresh, cheesy, pizza. He smiled at me, I smiled back.
The nudge was strong. I clutched the box to my chest, my companions unaware of my confliction. I spend the rest of the walk defending my choice to walk on by. Not my country. I haven’t had pizza in weeks. I have no money either. The nudge grew stronger. So did my defense. Next time. I’m not going to walk all the way back now. He’s probably not even there anymore.
We ate our pizza. I don’t remember it being as good as I thought it would be. The conflict continued. How could I feel so guilty not giving a homeless man my pizza when I had just given weeks of my life to caring for the sick and orphaned?
Over time I realized it wasn’t meant to be about guilt or even the pizza. I cannot feed the world. Giving out of compulsion rather than desire doesn’t hold the same meaning anyway.
What I couldn’t shake was the feeling that I had turned down an invitation. An invitation to love to join the divine dance of when I was hungry you fed me.
This call, this nudge, whether I call it God, the divine in me, or the whisper on the wind, doesn’t come often but when it does, it is an undeniable sense of knowing. I feel a pressure in my heart of something that needs to be done, usually followed with a barrage of reasons why it’s meaningless, and I don’t have time, or that the person receiving it won’t understand.
However, when I listen it’s worth every bit of angst I feel that I’m being stupid or that I shouldn’t have to do it.
Sitting in church in my back corner, colouring away week after week, I felt the nudge. As each advent candle was lit it became stronger. It touched on one of the very sorest points of my life.
My beliefs in God and thoughts about church are deeply wrapped up in not only in my childhood but a deep sense of rejection I felt after my first baby was born. Somehow the most spiritual experience of life, giving birth, pushed me the farthest I’ve even been or felt from any sort of church experience.
Every Sunday a couple rows up there are twin baby boys. They look at me sometimes smiling, sometimes like they are looking right into my soul. It’s the ministry of baby looks. When they make noise nobody bats an eyelash. They are not only tolerated but welcomed.
I remember the deep pain of feeling like a disruption with my baby. Of being asked to leave the service. The feeling of desperately needing community, but not being able to be separate from my baby. The resentment and anxiety I let build until I could no longer set foot in a church without panicking. The constant worry that my children were an unwelcome disruption.
I finally conceded to the nudge. Through a thick veil of tears, I ripped a note page and wrote. I wrote everything to that mom I needed to hear when I had my baby. I realized that I had not forgiven those who had unintentionally hurt me deeply. As I wrote I realized that any encouragement this note would give the twin’s mother was just a bonus. That the true nudge was a push in my heart to deeper healing, to letting go.
I tucked the note in her hand with a quick smile. I went about my week, squashing the feeling that she would think I was a totally freak, worried it would creep her out that I sit behind her and stare at her beautiful babies, but I just needed her to know that their presence was more meaningful to me than any words spoken from the pulpit.
That the God I need to meet on Sundays is the God of messiness and noise. A God who knows the deep trench of parenting, the exhaustion and the bone aching love and heart freezing anxiety. Just like some people find God in nature, I find him babies. In their first breath, theirs cries their cuddles. My own kicking inside me or gazing up at me from
Just like some people find God in nature, I find him babies. In their first breath, theirs cries their cuddles. My own, kicking inside me or gazing up at me from the breast. In the babies at work. In soothing their cries. In the slow hard work of healing them. Their frailty and their strength.
This is love.
Yesterday was the fourth candle of advent. The candle of love. Advent is about the waiting, the longing. I find God in waiting and the longing. He is more answers than questions. A deep sense of something more and something missing from this world. The pain and suffering cry out to be healed just as the delicate intricate snowflakes speak of being created, of love and attention to detail and beauty.
The mom I gave the letter to, with her husband and babies got up. They were asked to speak on what love is. Love is a community. Love is a safe place.
Love is a letter.
My children get their flair for the dramatic from me. I like grand gestures. Love is the big things. I forget that it is also in the small. That we give and receive love in so many ways every day. Even when we don’t love the person in the sense of loving a spouse or a child, we give love in every kind word, every action that says we see the value of another person, that makes them feel worthy of being loved.
So as we light our love candle tonight we will contemplate.
We are love.
We give love and receive love.
We are worthy of love and love is something to be shared.
It does not exist until it is given and received. Although the dictionary limits its definition to a feeling, it will always be so much more.