Columnists > Voices

Mornings

We wait for the expected miracle, the final morning

Issue: "Rich man, poor man," May 5, 2007

My boys (ages 7, 5, and 2) are morning people. I am decidedly not. The little-boy noises begin early in their bedrooms, but soon their authors seek me out, begging me to be the Tickle Monster. They think this is how normal people spend their mornings.

I used to believe they got this from their mother. But perhaps mornings are expected miracles to all children. They wake up with a hopefulness that the world hasn't yet stolen, and remember that their parents (or maybe it is just mother, or just father) are sleeping or reading or making breakfast nearby.

They come to us to hear of what their wiggly little hearts need reminding, which is that we love them more than we can say, especially when we are always saying things like, "Apologize to your brother," and "Sit still," and (in my house), "Let Daddy write for 15 more minutes, and then I'll make you oatmeal with brown sugar on top."

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Their sleepy eyes tell us: I was hoping to find you here. And we reply, in our various ways: There are no words to tell how much I love you. We are always saying "I love you," but I hope my children sense that these words are only raindrops, the kind that tippy-tap on their heads to say a storm is swirling above them somewhere, beyond what they can see, big and wild and powerful. That is how I love them, though there aren't words to explain it.

Mornings are when we remember. We remember that there is no school today, or that we are married now, or that someone we love has died. We remember the work that awaits. Luke wrote that the women came "very early in the morning" to Christ's tomb on that third day, prepared to preserve His corpse. How lovely it must have been to learn that the work was canceled, to feel those tippy-tapping raindrops of grace on their skin, whispering that the world has changed forever.

Sometimes the morning brings restoration-the fever has broken, or we have slept deeply after a long illness. Sometimes it brings a deeper restoration; we awake to find ourselves entwined with the person from whom we've grown distant, as if sleep can cure even the heart's sickness. "Who is she who looks forth as the morning/Fair as the moon/Clear as the sun"-this is what the Beloved says of his Bride in the Song of Solomon. I don't think in verse, so when the early morning light spills onto my wife's face, the words that go through my mind again and again, like a simple psalm, are: Thank You.

But sometimes mornings are treacherous. I remember the months of sickness in which our daughter lingered before death, and staying awake through the night waiting for lab results, or because the tumor was doing some evil work underneath her skin, denying her sleep. In those grim hours the morning seemed to share the soul of night, creeping up to spill its light on the stark reality that the world is broken, and that not even that glorious morning outside the Savior's tomb has ended our suffering.

On those mornings (and we all have lived them, haven't we?) one learns that sometimes God is silent, or perhaps that sometimes we cannot hear Him. It is difficult to believe, on those mornings, that the same sun under which we once rejoiced is now the sun that illuminates our despair. We are reminded that morning's homonym is mourning.

I'm trying to see mornings like my children, as expected miracles. This is our faith, isn't it?-we persist in believing the unbelievable. We expect the impossible and grieve joyously, irrationally hoping that grief ends. We wait for that final morning, for "the Bright and Morning Star," the One whose promise whispers to us like those gentle raindrops.

And what does He whisper to us, His children, as we drag out of bed with our weary, hopeful, wiggly little hearts? It is the very thing we tell our own children: There are no words to tell how much I love you. And we, in our turn, say to Him who will one day set all things aright, I was hoping to find You here.

-Tony Woodlief lives in Wichita, Kansas, with his wife and three sons

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