It’s almost eleven pm. Already, my daughter has cried out at least four times. She has these nights infrequently – usually when she is getting sick or when she’s had a long day. We run in, and her eyes stay closed, her mouth drawn into a frown as she cries out. I kneel by her bed, try to whisper her away from whatever scares her. Sometimes I sit on her bed and sweep her into my lap, hoping to wake her fully so I can find out what is wrong. She doesn’t respond, buries her head in the meat of my shoulder and tries to fall back asleep. When I lay her down, she tosses a bit before her body quiets and her fists spill open on her pillow. I say softly: “Shhhhh. I’m here. It’s OK. You’re in your room in our house. I am protecting you. You’re safe…you’re safe…you’re safe.” I know she isn’t fully conscious, but I speak the words anyway, truth like a blanket tucking her in. I hope that on some level she hears me, rests.
We spent last weekend at a cabin on the Alleghany River. It was ten minutes off a real paved road, a rustic little place backed up against the mountains with a dock along the shore. The dock was our favorite spot, poking out into the river like a finger testing the water. My daughter loved to walk the length of it, take tiny steps from one wobbly platform to another. My son tossed sticks into the water and watched them float away until they were out of sight. At night, after the kids were asleep, my husband and I lay on the dock with our hands behind our heads, Milky Way ribboned overhead. I forgot how many stars there are, stars upon stars upon stars. I felt like the sky, clear and calm and full, and we stayed there until our eyes grew heavy and the river started to rock us to sleep.
I know God’s language is clouds and fire, mountains and stars. He spoke them into being like my fingers type words, syntax set with the waters’ divide and the rising of the sun. He embedded his promises in all of them, promises upon promises, but I forget. I worry. I get overwhelmed. Daily distractions pop up like parking-lot lampposts and obscure the stars and the promises. He speaks them anyway, truth like a blanket, his love bannered over me like the Milky Way. He leads me besides quiet waters. He restores my soul. And sometimes, even through the distractions, I hear. I rest.