"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
- James 1:27
Every morning, I wake up to a new email with sections of writing from the books of Richard Rohr. I am almost afraid to open them because recently, they seem to hit me right between the eyes and I can't just go through my days in the ordinary ways, drinking coffee and watching Bryan Baumler or reading a novel, or killing time while supper cooks by answering some pointless fashion quiz on People.com. (uh, no WAY, I would not wear a bomber jacket with a DRESS!?) Instead, I have to remember that all of my life is spiritual that God enters it and asks me to NOTICE the ways in which he is present, even while the noodles boil for the spaghetti.
On Saturday, the long wait between Good Friday and Easter Day, this is what awaited me:
"'Limen' is the Latin word for threshold. A 'liminal space' is the crucial in between time- when everything actually happens and yet nothing appears to be happening. It is the waiting period when the cake bakes, the movement is made, the transformation takes place. One cannot just jump from Friday to Sunday in this case. There must be a Saturday! This, of course, was always the holy day for the Jewish tradition. The Sabbath rest was the pivotal day for the Jews, and even the dead body of Jesus rests on Saturday, waiting for God to do whatever God plans to do. It is our great act of trust and surrender, both together. A new 'creation ex nihilo' is about to happen, but first it must be desired."
As I read this, I thought of the days following the arrival of our boys to Canada, when they were still strangers to me, and the endless days of feeding and cleaning seemed like an exercise in futility. We were not GOING anywhere, we just got on the same old wheel everyday and ran. I felt alone and isolated and completely in over my head. Worst of all, many people told me what a wonderful person I was to have adopted.... and I knew it wasn't true. I was the same impatient, overwhelmed, often out of control mom that I had been before the boys came home. In fact, having the extra responsibility seemed to draw the worst out of me. I hoped that once the worst was drawn out, it would disperse and disappear into the ether; I prayed it would be completely and irrevocably exorcised. (A friend from church told me that Moshe (Moses in Hebrew) means 'to draw out'. No kidding.)
One day, I took the boys outside to play in the snow. I was beside myself dealing with four kids, a partner who was never home and the long prairie winter. When we got outside, I started to scream. I screamed and screamed and screamed. Finally under control, I looked down to see two big pairs of eyes staring at me in horror. Not my best show......
It was one long "Saturday" for me. But I'm sure it was even longer for my two little boys. They had lost their birth mom and dad: the worst thing had happened to them. They were wounded and overwhelmed and they didn't speak the language and there was SNOW!? Kidus had to learn to be a little brother to a sometimes extremely bossy big brother. He was so obedient and responsible. Moshe was afraid all the time, and tantrumed about nearly everything. Brad and I rejoiced the day Kidus broke a rule and the day Moshe obeyed. It meant they were at home. But it was a hard adjustment. It was a long threshold.
When living through Saturday, it is hard to believe that Sunday will come. But it always does. This is the great promise of Jesus' story: new life is always possible. "Ex nihilo" means " out of nothing". God created the world out of nothing, and He creates new families out of what seems like nothing. It is long, hard work. It is miraculous work! And it is an amazing lesson for not just us, but for our children. Now, when Kidus asks why bad things happen, I can tell him that although I don't know the answer to "why", I do know that new life, a new start is ALWAYS possible. And he knows this to be true. Because we lived through that long Saturday together.