He comes to find me in the dark. Eyes squinted against my bedside lamp, he whispers, “Mama. Mama I gotta be by you.”

Bad dreams and hot summer nights drive him out of his bed, down the hallway and into mine. And I, I who crave space like oxygen at the end of some days, open my arms to him. Because that’s what parents do.

We make room inside ourselves for our children.

It comforts me to know that the Christ himself knows how I feel. Weary after long days of being surrounded by others, of being tugged from every side, of being followed and bothered for food, for touch, for recognition, he withdrew.

After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. Matthew 14:23.

The need to be alone is a powerful one. A pull at the core of who we are and perhaps a reminder that only when we are alone are we able to hear clearly from the Spirit that resides in our hearts. Time alone, as every parent knows, is sacred ground. And when it’s in my grasp, I usually feel it trickle too fast through my fingers and I panic that it will be gone before I have figured out how best to spend it.

A good book, a hot bath, a meal eaten in peace. Caramel frappacinos enjoyed while reading a magazine. A slow walk down the grocery aisle. Music, loud music in the laundry room. I spend my alone time in the ordinary, every day ways familiar to parents. But even the most mundane tasks, when done alone, take on a special quality. There is reverence in the ordinary when I get to savor it with only my thoughts and the Spirit that loves me for company.

It is rarely grand. But it is always necessary.

Small, deliberate footsteps, however, ultimately find me out in the end. And in the midnight hour I reach out to my son and feel his long limbs, that just an afternoon before were full of fight and stubborn refusal to comply, fold into me. He is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones.

Small wonder that Jesus-brother-human-maker could never turn away anyone who interrupted him.

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Mark 6:30-33.

He understands.

He understands the feeling of claustrophobia that can set in after a long day at the center of many small, grabbing hands. And he shows me what compassion looks like in the very midst of that hungry need for space.

So I reach out and roll Micah into the sheet next to me. Because he wants to be with me. Just like I want to want to be with Jesus. And we rest in one another.

{Edited from the archives}
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