You can read it here: http://wordhabit.com/2020/05/19/nightparenting/
“What do you want me to learn about you?”
This is a simple prayer I prayed tonight before settling down to write, cross-legged on my gray mid-century couch, laptop in tow. It would be horrible if I completed this Advent journey and missed something God was saying because my eyes were on my navel.
“I want you to learn about me as a father.”
Okay. Well, parenting is tough especially when we’re all tired. I think my ideal time to parent is 10am. The day has been in full swing for a couple of hours and now it’s snack time.
“What would you like to eat?” I ask the littles.
“Cheez-Its and grapes!” they holler back.
Against their pediatrician’s wishes, we have a ton of salty snacks on the top shelf of our pantry. No, our girls don’t snack on celery. Well, not often. And when they do, there is a smear of peanut butter and a few raisin “ants” for the “log”. That takes too long for me to make so Cheez-Its it is. But first, grapes. Rinse-rinse. Pat dry. Count equal portions into small IKEA bowls. Parenting is a breeze.
God, I don’t know how you do it and how you’ve done it for so long. And I’m guessing there is no perfect hour for you, no snack time routine that has us contentedly munching while watching an episode of our one of our favorite kid shows.
I’m sure this isn’t accurate but it’s kinda funny to picture you about to shapeshift into baby form and then saying, “Nah, let’s wait a little longer.” And when 4000 years have gone by, Gabriel confidently yet gently asks, “Um, what are you waiting for???” to which you reply, “Ok.” (Deeeep breath in and out) “Ok….let’s do this.”
And on that day, your heart broke into fifty million pieces because you knew what you were getting into. You knew that the final happy ending was still thousands of years down the road, a road riddled with potholes of desperation and arrogance and fear and hatred in the hearts of your creations who you once called “very good”. Are we still very good? Do you still see yourself in us? Do we have your eyes or the same dimples?
You knew that even after Jesus was here, we’d face the same pain humankind had been dealing with for centuries and that our lookback at history wouldn’t penetrate our selfish hearts enough for us to stop making the same mistakes.
You knew what you would feel as Jesus and then again you didn’t really because you’d never been human until now. This was new. Was it unnerving? Was a piece of you terrified? It’s hard to believe you weren’t because parenting at night is hard and while night isn’t always bad, there’s a general fatigue we humans experience at that time which spreads a cloudy layer across our eyes. There’s just enough light coming through to help us see but through a glass darkly.
So many of our days are cloudy. We feel the tension as uncertainty rushes across our skin and somehow bumps into anticipation. Yes, there’s something more!
I’m used to thinking of the birth of Jesus as this absolutely thrilling moment. The angels sing. The shepherds get goosebumps, after they stop being afraid. Mary and Joseph are gushing over their newborn, still in awe that this is Messiah and that you’ve trusted them.
I see Herod as the only one who’s upset about this new development. I see the wise men as high brow yet humble.
For the first time, I’m picturing a few tears gracing your cheeks. You’re happy, yes, and you’re also sad. This is your son and none of the other humans fully know what that means.
God, you’ve seen so much. You’ve felt so much.
I know I’ve already said this but I don’t know how you’re still doing this.
I don’t know how to love this much.