Monday, December 2, 2013

Press Repeat

This morning my son and I walked to school. He skipped around, swinging his lunch box, dodging half-frozen puddles in his boots and talking to me about life, love and first-grade happiness. I love these walks. Five minutes of calm in our morning- lunch is packed, clothes on, shoes tied, coats zipped (sometimes)...the frenzy of the getting ready gives way to the quiet of the journey. I would love to say that we talk about a vast array of topics, delving deep into culture and dreams. In reality, we talk about snow. Every morning. It goes something like this.

J: Mom, do you think it will snow today?
Me: Maybe. Not too much, I think.
J: But it will snow more than North Carolina, right?
Me: Yes, it will definitely snow more than in North Carolina.
J: Taller than me?
Me: Yes, buddy, taller than you. Though not in one storm. Total, you know, over the whole winter.
J: Wow. Are you sure?
Me: Yes, bud, totally sure. It ALWAYS snows more in Wisconsin than in North Carolina. I promise.
J: (satisfied smile and stare at the sky willing it to snow immediately)

I should probably clarify that we have been having this conversation ever since the second day of school. The first day, rightly, was preoccupied with the whole "we just moved here and I don't know anyone and do you think I will make friends and have fun" conversation that inevitably precedes the first day in any new community. But day two? Snow. Day three? Snow. Day 50? Yup, you got it. Snow.

Most days I quietly chuckle as I answer him, loving his raw enthusiasm and his need to KNOW that it is going to happen. Not just to hope, but to trust he will be getting the snow storms of which he has only dreamed. Some days I get annoyed. Any parent can tell you that a sweet question is nice the first ten times but after the 1000th? Well, it can take work to keep the frustration out of your voice when you've already answered a question 999 times. Sometimes I wish could record my answers and press repeat for him.

But today was different. I didn't chuckle. I didn't feel frustrated. I felt struck. Here was this innocent little boy. This person who I love more than I could've ever imagined. This amazing boy who loves snow and wants it to happen as soon and as often as possible. In fact, his only request when we were moving was that we would move somewhere with a better winter. Wisconsin has been happy to oblige. It's actually snowing again as I type this and I am watching all the Christmas lights twinkle through the flakes. Just beautiful.

Today was different because I finally realized that he asks the same question every day because he cannot believe that the answer he has been given is real. It seems too good to be true given his prior experience with frustrated hopes and thwarted snowstorms that turned into "rain events". Is there anything worse than hearing that phrase on the news when you were supposed to wake up to a winter wonderland? And so he continues to ask and I suspect that until we are all finally sick of the snow in April, the trend will continue. Until he has experienced the winter he wants, he won't believe it. Even then, I imagine that next September will bring a renewed conversation. We forget so easily, even the good.

Today was different because I suddenly have this vision in my head. God and I are taking a walk, as we often do. And he is listening to me prattle on about something or other in that patient way that he does. And I ask him a question. And if I watch his face carefully, I see that tension between amusement, frustration and love. Because he has given me the answer 999 times but I need to ask again. I cannot help myself. What he offers to me is too unbelievable, too good, too patient, too real to be truly comprehensible. And so I have to ask again. How can this God love me? How can I be forgiven? How in the world did God become flesh so that I could know Him better? How is it possible that someone so huge can walk so closely beside me in my suffering? How? Why? Who is he, really? When my experience in life often makes me feel cynical or frustrated or angry because of the hate and suffering and racism and bullying and infertility and lost dreams and all the other things that shout our brokenness from the rooftops, it's hard for me to truly believe in the Good, the Beautiful, the God who is himself Love. The God who doesn't just record his answers and press repeat but delights to engage with me for the 1000th time.

So I keep asking. I look up and I hope. And because he has answered the same way 999 times, when he answers again I believe it. At least for a day. And a day is enough.

My son and I will walk to school tomorrow on snow-covered streets and ponder that great question about "whether or not it will snow today" and he will believe me again that he will get the winter he wants. So, too, I will wake up tomorrow and ask my same questions of God and ponder anew the unrelenting grace and generosity of a God who Loves me more than I can possibly understand.

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