21 Aug Give Us This Day
For this season of Ordinary Time, former Venn staff member, alumna, and artist Juanita Madden has reflected, through personal story and image, on juxtapositions of ordinariness and wonder.
In the dark, I sat as still as I could, trying to regather my breath, but instead feeling like the throbbing tumble of a washing machine, gasping for air. My consciousness caught on wonderment that I had made it through those doors–just in time. Having been deterred by a locked side door, I had had to run a significant detour in high heels and had literally groped in blindness into the box at Palais de Opera.
For a few limping seconds, in the blinding pitch black, time stood still and disorientation muddled until I remembered where I was. In that pregnant pause before the curtains revealed lithe dancing bodies, I was overcome by the thought that I could have missed this.
And can you believe, that in the dark there full of anticipation, a subtle embrace by two dancers the colour of mauve, and a flick of a wrist, completely took me. Exquisite musicality and a tone of humility, the beauty of its ‘maker’ in this created moment was unmissable. Tears welled, and my gaze softened temporarily, quivering with life. Is this how you reach me these days, Lord? Strange.
She wakes with an intensity. The miracle is that she is waking. Day sleeping has been a scarcity lately.
She’s only on the other side of two, and she daily packs an equivalent intensity. I am also now wide awake as I hold her. Today, her gaze is as clear as a still lake. She leans back and studies my face. She doesn’t move away. I live for these moments of hushed closeness. I barely breathe, wanting to hold onto this. Suddenly, the Lord whispers over her shoulders, “I too live for these moments; when you lean into me”.
I have been here before. The tide is out, but we are expecting change, anticipating the moment when Papa will walk through the door. Home. Until then, I try to be present here on the chaotic seas of our lounge floor. I am finding I am naturally inclined to lean away from the present. A bone-deep yearn for something other. But for what? If I’m honest, I often want to jump ship. I don’t want more crumbs, tidying, dishes, drama, helping, requesting, nappy changes, stickers on socks, slow time. The thing is, it’s not really slow time; rather, it’s full to the brim of demands.
I recently read a warning against ‘baptising’ Scripture just to make meaning from our own experiences. Irreligiously, I am in danger of baptising butter on toast, a shower alone, or the mouthfuls of coffee hurried from a special cup from Paris; but these days they pull me through.
They are comforts I cling to, but there are others too that I can cling to. On repeat, another current pulls me under. She is here. Abba is here too.
In the cracks of the dim I remember there is a simplicity: I am keeping her and her unborn sibling alive. We have waited for this time. It has been slow coming–a disorientation–but here we are. Bone-deep sighs in the waiting.
Sometimes we wait for things in the dark, things under the surface or on the horizon that we cannot see, and when they emerge, we are dull to them. We find we are clinging elsewhere. By all means I continue to cling to that warm cup of coffee. I also long for my hands to be found open and receptive.
“Drift, wait, and obey”, writes Rudyard Kipling.
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:12
I feel the burrow of Audrey’s body again and her warm breath against my neck. I feel the extension of my belly underneath her, and I know there are hours to go. In the half-light of this winter’s afternoon, I try to gather my breath, exhaling to make room for the courage to sit here well–in this now ordinary place.
(Images: Copyright to Juanita Madden)