I’m participating in Gwen Bell’s The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge:
Day 8: Moment of peace. An hour or a day or a week of solitude. What was the quality of your breath? The state of your mind? How did you get there?
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a mother and a grandmother. I am a mother to two daughters, who are mothers to two sons and one daughter. My grandson is eight and his brother is 7 months. My granddaughter is 15 months.
My younger grandson was born in April of this year. The journey leading up to his birth was filled with moments of many emotions, but most noticeably trust, hope and yes, fear.
His brother, who is now eight, is a most amazing soul. He was born with a heart defect that went undiscovered until he was about twelve hours old. What unfolded after that discovery, was enough to make any human being wonder about the grace of God, or lack of any grace at all in the world. What this baby, and his parents, endured, made me question, at the deepest level, if there is a God. In the middle of the darkest moments of this baby’s first three months in the hospital, one full month in critical condition, I railed against God, not understanding at all how I could be at peace with what my beautiful first grandchild was having to endure in his first days and weeks of life; and, what his parents were having to experience. All I wanted to do was keep them safe. But, I couldn’t.
At one dark point, I took myself into the hospital chapel, shut the door, and swore I would not leave until I could ‘be with’ the way things were. I knew I wasn’t any good to anyone until I faced what it was I was unwilling to face. I prayed. I wept. I prayed. I begged. I wept some more. And then, exhausted with my own fighting against what was, I finally began to pray in earnest. No longer were my prayers about asking for what I wanted. In my exhaustion, my prayers were prayers of surrender. They were prayers of letting go. They were prayers of vulnerability, of complete opening to hear, really hear, what might be there all along, just waiting for my receptivity.
Finally, when I was quiet, open and receptive enough to hear, I heard a voice tell me that, in this moment, all was well. All was well. And with the voice, came a deep, undeniable, peace. The kind of peace that passeth all understanding. In the midst of one of the most painful moments of my life, I felt the kind of peace that moves beyond all measure of description. In this peace, I was able to go back out into the world, into the Intensive Care Unit, and really be there with, and for, those I loved.
Eight years later. My grandson is doing better than anyone could have imagined, considering the lifelong complications he faces. I won’t go into details, as those are sacred, private things that only he and his parents have the right to share. He is a most precious being, and such a teacher to us all. Life hasn’t been easy, but the peace comes when I don’t fight what is.
So, in the days leading up to this most amazing boy’s brother’s birth, I watched his parents prepare for the arrival. They were so excited and so courageous. The decision to have another child had been made with a great deal of conscious contemplation. The doctors all said the chances were good that this second child would be fine, yet they stressed there were no guarantees. There never was a definitive conclusion as to what had caused my first grandchild’s heart defect.
Early on a Tuesday morning in April, I sat in my grandson’s room as he slept. His mother and father were at the hospital, ready to give birth. My other daughter had just called to tell me that her sister was beginning to push, and that the baby, a boy as well, would be born at any time. As I waited, I sat again in prayer. For some unexplainable reason, I didn’t beg for all to be perfect, or just as I wanted it. I asked for all to be well. It’s not that I had somehow learned to be holy and accepting of all things difficult. I hadn’t, and haven’t. Yet, in this moment, when the chips were down, I was led back to the peace that defies description. I was led to open my heart to the eight-year old miracle sleeping in front of my eyes, to the miracle that he is.
As I sat in prayer, a presence, thick and deep, filled every atom of the bedroom. It filled every cell of my body. It was Grace, pure radiant Grace. It bathed us both in Its light. Grace stayed for the better part of what I believe to have been two minutes, although time left when Grace arrived.
I was pulled from this presence when my phone rang. It was my daughter calling to tell me her sister had givem bith to this new little boy. He had arrived and he was fine. His mother was fine. The birth was easy. All was well.
In this moment, I felt as if the weight of eight years had been lifted from my body. In this moment, there was such relief. In this moment, there was peace. Twelve hours later, when all was still well, I was holding this new little one in my arms, knowing that there is, indeed, Grace.
We can’t get to peace. We can’t get to Grace. Grace is always here. Grace is always holding us. It is when we let go of everything we demand of it, that we find ourselves filled with the peace of Grace that is beyond definition.