Questions like - Where are the other two screws? What has kept me from falling, from having the seat of my chair slide off and send me sprawling all this time? What keeps me upright every day? Who helps me find just the right book on just the right shelf at a branch of the library I don't usually visit, a book that is helping me understand myself as a mother to a child with needs I cannot fill? What about the other books and movies I discover on my library and bookstore and Blockbuster jaunts - the books and films that highlight my love for the Spanish language, Renaissance art, and solo travel adventures, aid me in my pursuit of being the best mother I can be to these two amazing, challenging, loving, angry, delightful, needy, self-centered, mama-loving teenagers I live with, and all the while not neglect to attend to my deepest soulful murmurings - all at just the right moment, all without me actually setting out to find any of those books or movies? Who directs the fingers of friends to send just the right words of humor, wisdom, grace, and encouragement my way at just the right time? Who guided these persistently present, insightful, patient, dazzlingly beautiful, inspirational, adventurous, daring, forgiving, wonder-filled co-travelers onto the path of my life journey all at the same time? And most baffling of all, why do they all still love me when I so often feel and act in ways that are so undeserving?
I realize this morning, sitting here on my perfectly sturdy, if inexplicably underendowed chair, that I have always been kept safe and strong, mostly in ways and at times and by means I have been completely unconscious of. I have been kept safe on countless late night walks down dark and empty streets in Rome and Madrid and Florence and Barcelona. I have been kept safe on late night walks down hospital corridors and across shopping plaza parking lots. When my tears have ruined my make up and stained my shirt, while bus and taxi drivers looked at me worryingly and helplessly through their rear view mirrors, even then, I have been held up. I have been kept safe late at night right here at home when my heart was fractured by fear and lacerated by loneliness. I have been held up by the prayers and love and friendship of others. I have always been held upright and held close and held together. I have always been held up by strong and invisible hands of love and grace and mercy.
Today as I sit here, right here, right now, I admit that I don't understand why. I don't understand how. I don't understand who. But I do know this: I am alive and well, happy and at peace right here, right now because I have always been held, during the countless times in my life when I was down to my last screw and it was loose.
I have often pretended otherwise. I have often declared otherwise.
And there have been many times when I proclaimed certainty and knowledge and proof.
But right here, right now, I've got nothing.
Except some pretty remarkable promises -
Be strong and courageous. Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you, wherever you go.
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble, but take heart, have courage; I have overcome the world.
Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
So off I go into another day of appointment and meetings, cooking and cleaning, laundry and packing, tennis matches and birthday parties. Another day of meeting deadlines and demands. Another day of holding myself down and back in order to hold her and him and her and him upright and together. Another day of preparing the speech when I will inform them that, contrary to their belief and all appearances to the contrary, their being held upright and together has absolutely nothing to do with me. Nothing at all.
I am still down to my last screw and it's still loose.
But help is on the way.
No, scratch that.
Help is here.
It has always been here. Always.