The weekend’s hours have gone slowly, marching through feverish tinies with barking coughs, sleepless nights and never-ending weepy exhaustion. I woke up to Joe between us in the bed, feverish and clinging while his sister barked horribly in her own little bed across the hall.
It had been a long night for all of us.
But morning dawned and with it, coffee-as-grace for the weary. Still jammied, I’m curled into my chair, Brian is lounging on the couch, Anne at his side curled into his chest and Joe on his lap while they watch “Shaun the Sheep” on his work laptop.
I finally get to rest, finally get to eat my breakfast, finally get to drink my coffee and sit alone without anyone touching me at all. (Sometimes, I can be rather touched out.)
I’m reading Mark 2, about the time that the religious elite confronted Jesus about how his disciples didn’t fast enough. He replies, “When you’re celebrating a wedding, you don’t skimp on the cake and the wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt but not now. As long as the bride and groom are with you, you have a good time. No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire. This is Kingdom Come!”
Joe is a snuggly boy at the best of times and when he is sick or tired, he is a clinging monkey desperate to be held, twisting my hair around his baseball mitt of a hand. His eyes are ringed with purple shadows, his voice hoarse from coughing and he looks so forlorn, so sick, so little. And, despite my clear signals, my folded legs, my coffee in hand, even the enticement of his favourite show on the computer, his arms are outstretched beside me, asking for his Mumma.
For a moment, I want to send him back to the couch because, can’t he see? I’m reading The Bible after all. Isn’t this more important? Isn’t this the more holy thing? The better choice for me – for my own self-care, for my own spiritual growth, for my family?
But he’s standing here by my chair, holding out his poor wee arms and his nose is running and, I nearly missed it, the table is laid for a feast. These days when they are home, when there are crumbs on the floor and bleary eyes, when all of his troubles are easily soothed by my own weak arms, this is my feast. When they are gone, I will have all the time in the world to drink coffee in the morning. I’ll have hours to devote to study and novels and saving the world and Twitter. My floors will stay clean and laundry will be reduced to two loads a week again, my house will be quiet, my money my own and nothing to stop us from going out for coffee at midnight.
My mother once told me that, at this time of my life, the days can be long but the years will be short.
This wedding won’t last forever. (And it’s a stretch I know, not entirely theologically correct, because the feast and famine of scripture is about Jesus’ presence and I’m just me and they’re just them and, let’s be honest, sometimes it’s right and good to just take a break.) But right now in my life, Mark 2 has jumped off the page and into this small boy with the word “Mumma” on his lips, inviting me to the feast laid out, to the wedding dancing around the bonfire in my own home.
This is the presence of God, this is the holy moment, the cathedral, the great moment of surrender and selflessness happening not in the leper colony of India but for me in my own living room in Canada, the breaking of bread and daily manna of communion through a messy home with messy people, learning to love and take joy even when the toast is getting cold.
And when they want to be held, mama, just hold them.
This is my feast and wedding around the bonfire, the days I’ll long for when these three tinies think it’s weird that I want to kiss every inch of them paying special attention to their collarbones, for those days when my floors are clean and my days my own but it’s because they aren’t here.
When that day comes, I’ll be so glad that I put down that Bible, let my coffee get cold and pressed closer to the bonfire while it burns.
I hold him close while he curls around the ever-growing baby bump, his lips pressed to my throat so that I can kiss that spot just behind his ear and mean with my whole heart when I croon, “Mumma’s here, luv. Mumma’s all here. I’ve got you, baby.” His body relaxes into that baby-boneless peace, his snot pooling on my shoulder.
Kingdom come, I’m pulling up a chair to the feast of love at the table laid for me.