My heart is like everybody else's. It's human. And, figuratively speaking, it is protected by a stone wall most of the time. I'll catch myself avoiding the actual feeling of being alive some days because it just seems like it will leave everything too open.
The disciples had this problem, too.
It took miracle after miracle . . . and encounters with children to change their understanding. Even then, I imagine they continued to struggle off and on.
Every day when I drive to work I pass through a section of an old road that is transformed by the morning light. It's seriously breath taking. Nothing short of miraculous, really. The hedges and underbrush grow high on both sides, the road is winding and narrow, and the moisture in the air from the creek system nearby creates a haze that hangs low across the ground. Then the sun comes over the ridge. You can't see the ridge because of the trees and the way the road is curving. But if you knew the road, you would know to expect the ridge. And as the sun comes over it, a golden hue strikes all of that low lying haze and everything is on fire - a burning bush . . . and altar to God right there on my drive to work.
On the other side there will be a dollar general store. There will be a gas station and a stop sign where people go to and from work in a hurry. I will pass school buses and wave to the same drivers I always wave to. Business as usual. But when the sun strikes the mist and the trees are on fire all around me, I forget the dollar general and the people going to work. I forget business as usual. And I naturally am compelled to give thanks to God for my life.
Then I come out on the other side . . . I see the cars and the people and the store and the stop sign. I remember where I'm going and what I'm doing. I "come back down to earth" and the stone wall goes back up.
When my son was very new he almost never slept during the night. I mean that in a literal way. He spent his days sleeping and his nights crying. He was all turned around. This went on for months. I don't recommend sleeplessness for a body's health. It's not good for a person. But I did notice something. Every once in a while my heart would rise up out of the fog in my sleep deprived mind and it would whisper, "Look at this - it's 4 a.m. and you're holding this miraculous creature in your arms. When have you ever seen something so beautiful at 4 a.m.?" Never before, of course, is the answer. I had never seen anything so beautiful at 4 a.m. before. An altar in the world - Praise God for the sleepless nights and the growing child. But the discomfort of my routine being thrown off was so strong that 9 times out of 10 I missed it. I brushed by the glory and felt the frustration and the exhaustion resting heavy on my whole self.
It's here and then it's gone.
My son's life right now is that golden stretch of highway in the morning. The trees are so tall on either side. And even though I understand that there's a ridge waiting up ahead of him, all I can pay attention to is the blinding, golden light of his early morning days. My mind fights my heart constantly - "Think about the work you have to do, Sarah. Think about how successful you're meant to be, Sarah. Think about all the opportunities you've turned down this year alone, Sarah." - It's my responsibility to throw a stop sign up in front of my mind and bring it back to the moment at hand. Because this miracle? This golden morning? It will be gone too soon. Too soon my son will cruise into the town and pass all the stores begging for his business. He will begin noticing the people going to work and the way our ambition beckons us. He will start to forget the miraculous nature of water and sunlight on trees and eating an apple in an orchard. It will be my job to remind him!
I can't afford the stone wall around my heart. Can you?