Thursday, March 27, 2008

Struggling to be Grateful

It's been a really hard few weeks, with Shannon being so sick with this pregnancy, we're both exhausted and in need of some quiet and calm hours that don't involve nausea and vomiting and saltine crackers. I saw a chance this afternoon when my phone stopped ringing and I'd caught up on email -- and I came home early, thinking that it'd be a good afternoon to sit on the deck and enjoy the small bit of sunshine peeking through the clouds. After Sunday, there won't be as much opportunity to have an afternoon off. One of my colleagues leaves for a 4 1/2 month sabbatical, so my workload and responsibilities increase accordingly while he's away. So I went by the store to buy some beer, even, so I could have one or two while watching basketball tonight.

I walk in the door and Austin (our dog) greets me with a little more anxiety than normal. He's had just as hard a time with Shannon being really sick, worried about her and wondering what is going on. I also know that his greeting means he's done something he knows I'm not going to be happy with. As I walk toward the kitchen to put the beer in the frig, I see broken glass everywhere...and think maybe I should open the beer immediately. Somehow, he's gotten enough of himself up on the kitchen counter to bring down an entire glass dish onto the floor. And then he's taken pieces of it into the living room to lick whatever remnants of food he'd found on it. I don't know how, but he seems unhurt, at least I cannot find any blood on him or on the floor.

I am sitting on the deck, and am glad the sun is shining. I'm drinking a beer, sighing deeply, and praying for a heart of gratitude: this baby has turned all of our lives upside-down, already. Austin's through-the-roof anxiety is only one example. We prayed so hard for this pregnancy to happen. We want so much to be able to raise a family that will add a little more of God's love to the world. Right now, though, I'm thinking a lot about the disciples in Luke's Gospel -- the ones who were walking on the road to Emmaus after Jesus was killed and they'd found the empty tomb, in the completely opposite direction of Jerusalem. They were trying to get away from it all - they were exhausted, confused and bewildered as to what to do next, wondering if all that time had been at all worth it.

Somewhere, deep in me, I know it's worth it: all the disruption of routine, the sickness, the exhaustion. If there's anything I know for sure, it's that new life is messy and always hard to birth. Today I'm struggling to be thankful for it, and praying for grace to find me, to remind me that this little bit of sunshine and an afternoon off can sustain me a long way.

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