My kids don’t wake me up at night anymore for milk. Or to get a diaper changed. When they wake me now it’s because they’ve had a nightmare and the darkness is suffocating them.
And at 2 in the morning a small, timid voice will appear at the head of my bed whispering in strangled tones, “Mama, I had a bad dweam.”
And I’ll roll over and open the covers and they’ll tuck their long, gangly limbs in between me and Peter and I’ll hear the slow exhale of frightened breath and tuck the duvet tighter around them. I’ll stretch out a tired arm and pet the hair back from their sticky forehead and whisper, “It’s OK. Mama’s here.”
And the small body will relax, wrapped in the certain faith that fear can’t find a way into the family bed and nightmares don’t live in the spaces where love sleeps.
But grown ups have bad dreams too.
Sometimes the worst ones happen when we are awake.
On days like that when we find ourselves walking around in nightmares, I want to find my way back to my parent’s bed and climb in.
I want to bury my head in piles of spring cherry blossoms and just bathe in the brand new sunshine. I want to curl up in our king size bed between two softly snoring boys and let their peace wash over me. I want to eat chocolate frosting right out of the tub and call my brothers in South Africa and catch up for hours.
I want to find the everything that is true and noble and right and pure and lovely and admirable, excellent and praiseworthy and just wallow in those things.
And I don’t think they need to be especially religious things to fall into that category. A favorite book that traces the character of courage; a favorite sweater that wraps me around with memories; a song that comes onto the radio and serenades the afternoon with a tribute to the ordinary –
a carrot top who can barely walk
With a sippy cup of milk
A little blue eyed blonde with shoes on wrong
‘Cause she likes to dress herself. ~ LoneStar
A Doppler heart beat and kids who hug so hard we all land in a laughing heap on the ground. Chocolate covered raisins and frothy cups of sweet, pink lemonade. Friends Stateside who speak Afrikaans. I want to drink in the good and remember that even in the middle of wide awake bad dreams that the Light of the world is not set on a dimmer switch. He blazes. Always.
The Light of the World blazes a trail across bad dreams and He cannot be put out.
Give me eyes that I might see.
The tenderness, the compassion the mercy.
The friends who come over with stew.
The nine year old who reminds me not to worry about the small things because he doesn’t want me to miss out on the big things.
The tribe of people who are loving their neighbors a world away.
The blazing comet of every day kindness that lights up lives on otherwise ordinary Tuesdays.
We might have nightmares, thrash around in the dark and grope towards a night light. But we are the destined-for-morning people.
We are the sunshine creeping over the edge of a dark rock rolled away people. We are the gaping hole in the side of a hill defied by the Light people. We are the dew early rise with the Gardner people.
We are the Sunday morning people.
We are the promises of new mercies every morning people. And these promises are our flaming torch in the midnight hour. They blaze a trail for our confused hearts and blind feet. They carve a way out of the darkness when there seems to be none. And they lead us towards the horizon.
And the whole universe testifies that morning will come.
As surely as the earth turns on its axel and rotates around the sun. As surely as the sun burns at a temperature of 13,600,000 kelvins at its core. As surely as its light travels to Earth in 8 minutes and 19 seconds to crack through the clouds and paint my son’s eyelashes golden.
Morning will come.
We must not become so accustomed to the dark, so confined by our nightmares, that we doubt the morning. But even if we do, even if we lose our sight and our will to keep walking forward, the morning sends a messenger back to find us – to bring us out into the light.
He will lead us tenderly, blindly forward, one foot at a time, until we feel the first flush of warmth on our cheeks. And eyelids swollen shut with weeping will be bathed in sunshine. And we will be the reflected glory of the Son who saved us.
The Son who walked into the dark heart of our worst nightmares and offered Himself as a living ransom for us.
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a
a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2.
The promise that even grown up nightmares won’t last forever.
That weeping might last for a night.
But that joy will come in the morning.