Wednesday, July 4, 2012
A Pregnant Hope
Every day last week the temperatures edged into the triple digits. Intense heat. Moving outside felt like stepping into a stone bread oven—the heat waves danced, undulating like a mirage in the desert. Oppressive and heavy. This heat is a robber. It steals energy, it seems, from the very marrow of the bones.
We had just finished dinner and decided to move out to the porch. The heat was dissipating because rain was falling somewhere. The scent was moving in the air, and the breeze was fluttering over the tops of the tomatoes and across the expanse of the porch. And the heat began to move away, carried by the breeze and it left fresh, crisp air behind.
Three of my four daughters were here. One of the highlights of my days is when I manage to get all four of them in the same place at the same time. They are all grown now and so this doesn’t happen as often. Two of them are round with child—incubating two precious little boys who will change our lives completely, utterly.
And that is how the night felt. The waiting for the rain mirrored the waiting in pregnancy. This waiting is a beautiful and tiring anticipation of something good and wanted and needed. Something longed for.
Lighting flashed and sparked against the sky. Thunder grumbled and quarreled in the air. And a few drops began to fall. My third daughter was standing on the front porch steps, one level down, watching the display. I moved in behind her and put my arms around hers, and laid my chin on the top of her head. It had been a long, long time since she had fit in that place. Under my chin. In my arms.
For a brief time I stood behind her and rubbed her arms and kissed the top of her head as I used to do when she was a little girl. Contentment swelled in me and opened up the very cells of my being. I didn’t even want to twitch for fear she would move away and the moment would be gone. I hoped it would lengthen and spread like the wet places on the sidewalk.
Later I sat down on the front porch step and my husband came and sat in front of me—this giant of a man leaned back against me and we braced each other. (We do that—brace each other when we need fortification, carry each other when the other is weak or tired, hold each other when we are fearful or agitated and love each other even when we seem or feel unlovable.) We perched on the edge of those steps for a long time watching the stormy night sky. Both of us were listening, waiting, anticipating.
Doesn’t our culture’s definition of hope seem like a funny thing? Often it is flighty and frivolous—like wishes on tilted birthday candles or fluttering dandelion seeds. Hope seems unsubstantial—like elusive shadows or invisible longings. Ethereal and airy. Not the stuff of this earth.
We were hoping for rain. We watched the sky and listened to the storm, but there was little promise in it. But we hope-wished anyway.
I hope-wish for a lot of things. But this kind of hope is not enough.
I want the kind of hope my daughters have right now. Their hope is not seen; their sons are tucked away and are being knit together within them. My daughters are hoping that their sons are developing, growing and lengthening. There’s evidence for this hope. These tiny little boys kick and turn and shift much to their mothers’ discomfort. But my daughters can’t see them, but they hold within them a very real hope that these little boys will arrive. They do not have their sons yet, but they are waiting for them and anticipating them. It is not a wish. It is hope.
Pregnant hope. Swelling, growing, expanding , enlarging.
Someday I know that the rain we need will come. Eventually the conditions will be favorable and the wind currents and heavy clouds will bring the much anticipated rain.
Someday in the future my daughters will recognize birth pains. And they will begin to count the minutes between them. The time span will decrease and the pains will increase. They will need to hope no longer. It will be upon them. Their hope will be in their arms.
Someday the answers I pray for will come. The conditions will eventually be favorable. Right now I can’t see the answers. I can’t find the solutions. I can’t drum up the resolutions. And I start to get discouraged. I begin to be weighed down and burdened. Right now my wisdom seems folly, my strength seems puny, my intentions weak, my abilities inadequate.
But I have hope.
I am waiting for my God to answer. And this waiting is a beautiful and tiring anticipation of something good and wanted and needed. Something longed for.
A pregnant hope.
Romans 8:24 NIV
…but hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?