Tonight I was washing dishes, and I reached to set a dish on the towel where the other dishes were drying, and I knocked my French press right onto the floor, where it shattered into a thousand tiny shards. This is unusual because after several years of waitressing I got pretty good at catching falling dishes. Above average catching skills, I would go as far as to say. Preternatural ability, even. Normally I could have caught it. Somehow. Or normally I wouldn’t have knocked it in the first place. But somehow it toppled right down, and I stood there and started sobbing. (Julia and April, if you’re reading this, I am so sorry I broke it, and even though John is ordering a replacement glass to go in it, it will never be the same, and part of why I was crying was because you gave it to me.)
And this Saturday I was putting on sunglasses while making a left turn and my fingernail or the tip of the glasses nicked my eyeball. My cornea wasn’t scratched, thank goodness, but my eyeball was, and so ensued a doctor visit and $70 worth of eyeball medication.
And I’ve gotten mean– I mean, mean— with some of the kids at school this week. One little girl– one of the kindergardeners, the worst one, bless her heart– was eating her granola bar by pulling off small pieces and sucking on them or licking them or something, getting crumbs everywhere and granola bar slime all over her hands and face, and I let loose on her. In front of everyone.
So tonight I smashed my beautiful French press. It’s as though everything I touch or look at gets shattered into tiny pieces. Now, I don’t know why I am writing this out for all the world to see. But after the glass broke I sat there on the kitchen floor and cried. For the broken glass and my scratched eye and most of all for the invisible fragments of little children that I have scraped away with my harsh words.
And I had to think to myself: do I believe the (badly written and incoherent) words I wrote this morning? Is there any real life to be wrung from Romans 4 for me on this kitchen floor? So I picked my way through the glass (which John swept up, and tossed the pieces of my beautiful friends’ gift into the trash) and started thinking of barren Sarah, barren and old (the 4 year olds guessed my age was 80 yesterday during our lunch conversation about my age– which, if I had eyes to see and ears to hear, every moment with them is so precious, like little Grant who hardly talks ever at all but the last few days has been coming up to me and singing about 6 words from some incomprehensible song and then turning and walking away abruptly. Precious and beautiful. But 80 is about how I feel, 80 and barren, and not melodramatic at all).
So I pulled out old dried up Romans 4 and read past where I read this morning: “He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver considering the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he promised” (Romans 4:19-21)
And God has promised (well, not in these exact words, but he has), that “the healing has begun.” Or that he will be (is?) “Like a sweet bird of youth, like a sweet bird of youth/ In my soul, in my soul, in my soul.” The wrinkled body and dried out womb, the ones who must have scratched their heads and wondered where they went wrong, what happened to the promise of sons as many as stars, the promise to all appearances shattered like glass on the floor. But Abraham believed, and it was counted to him as righteousness. And I have to believe, not that my flesh and bones are capable or some marvelous humanistic feat of supreme excellence in the face of trial, but that God did birth from this barren world some good thing, and through that good thing, our Lord Jesus Christ, God is bringing to life the brittle bones that clatter, the helpless fragments and the empty wombs.