Mother. I am Mother now. We’ve been tossing and turning a long time, perhaps more than an hour. He’ll fall asleep, then startle awake, waking me as he turns to his side. I hear him and feel him seeking my breast. When he is latched he drifts back, away, into sleep. Each time we adjust, my limbs, weighted down with a desire for sleep, pull me back into quiet, so that I know a strange half-waking, a twilight within my mind.
But it is too long, too long that we’ve been dancing this way under the covers. I am so tired, exhausted. There’s no word that describes the weariness that has hold of me. When he startles awake again, I force myself to crouch and swaddle him. Picking him up with his little cries of sleepiness and protest, I hold him against my chest and wrestle out of the tangle of covers.
There’s the moment my foot touches the floor, the sole molded into flatness, the solidity of the dark room with light outlining the windows, the cold of the air as we emerge from our warm nest. I tuck him against my chest, and he settles his face into my neck. Sighing, I begin to pace.
Wife. I hear my husband’s breath, louder when he turns to adjust position as I get up. It angers me that I am up while he sleeps, that there’s no other way I’d have it—no peace if I pawn the job off on him, no way I’d lose my little baby to his own room yet. I am so tired. I am so tired.
There is an inevitability to my pace, dictated by the path. Walk the end of the bed, step across the leg of the swing, dodge left to avoid the co-sleeper, stop at the changing table, then pivot away from the closet and retrace my steps back toward the window, the fan, and Josh.
I am so tired. My feet drag a little—this is how I keep my balance, walking on my heels. I am so tired. I can’t stop thinking it. I take in a breath, and another. It must be this now. I must accept. And I remember to begin. MA-RA-NA-THA MA-RA-NA-THA MA-RA-NA-THA. The sound, the word itself begins to draw a shawl of the eternal, the real, around me. I am still shuffling, still forcing muscle and brain to communicate in a sludge of weariness, but my soul is warming. This lacy shawl of light, sieved with bits of this dark room, is yet tensile and strong, tangible enough to warm my soul. MA-RA-NA-THA MA-RA-NA-THA MA-RA-NA-THA. I tread it out, able now to breathe in the air of eternity, drawing breath in this world and the next. God is near.
There is no containing this other world, which is The All, our God Himself. There is no hoarding or storing up for future needs. It is impossible, and it is unnecessary. The is-ness, God, that underpins and encompasses all that our senses provide—this is-ness IS. It is the Great I Am. This I Am is the Way. It is the Truth. It is the Life. There is no other.
My baby lies beside me, having awakened in his swing less than fifteen minutes after I settled him there. I am awake now, insomnia getting its grip, and he is sleeping. He is on his back, his little legs thrown upon my thigh, and I know without sensing it (indeed, how could I have sensory proof of it?) that he is breathing in this world and also, always, in the wider world of the real. He draws his breath in the presence of God. He does not need a word, a way back. His very being draws nourishment from both worlds. He is not fractured, but whole. Wholeness is one of the reasons I think we are drawn to babies. They do not need salvation—that is, healing and wholeness because they can breathe both ways. The breath of the soul is as native to them as air.
Light is a useful way to describe the is-ness, God, because if I tried to cup my hands around the light—to contain it, to possess it, to control it—then I lose the good of it, since I can no longer behold it. It cannot be grasped, but must be received into my soul, the is-ness within me. When I immerse myself in culture and media, I compress my soul, flattening it with particulars.
The eternal is not particular. When I seek it (God), when I walk the path with the feet of my body treading upon earth and the feet of my soul upon glory, I need only take a few steps. A few steps and then my soul flashes into incandescence, diffusing into brilliance, joining with the eternal. Maranatha is a way. The word, the sound, guides my feet as I tread the darkened room and my inner voice calling MA-RA-NA-THA awakens my soul. The eyes of my heart—that is, the core of my is-ness—open, and I can see what has been all around me. For in him we live and move and have our being.
Our world of the five senses is the overlay. It has been created to show the glory of God to dust. We are dust, given the breath of God. Thus it is not creation that gets in the way of our seeing rightly. It is culture, media, language, possessions. This is why simplicity is so important. Simplicity purifies the outer eye, thus keeping the way clear for our inner eye to perceive the eternal, is-ness, God.