There is a thick layer of dust on the bookshelves, smoke in the air from late summer fires, and laundry piled high on our dining room table. This is the summer of no air conditioning and this week in August it has been well into the 100's. At night the windows are flung open and the house hums with the white noise of fans. But the air is heavy with heat and sleep is difficult. Everyone seems on edge in our home. My words snip like scissors, the big kids bicker and the baby practices two year old tantrums. I feel like a family of yellow jackets who have feasted on all of summer's picnics, watermelon rinds, crumbs of cake and sticky goodness, and are now lazy, slow, and quick to sting.
In the evenings, I retreat outside to water the garden and flowers. It is my space of selah, the pause or rest between dinner and dishes, baths and bed time. I can tune the noise of family life out for a few moments and think and pray. As I watch the water from my hose soak into the parched dirt around my flowers I think of the old French tale of Peter and his magic ball of yarn. Whenever the boy was overwhelmed, discouraged or impatient he could give the golden string a quick tug and all of his present frustration would melt away in a blur as he was jolted forward in time. Of course the moral of the story is that Peter comes to the end of his life quickly and with hardly any memories of his life or the people in it. And yet, my fingers itch to pull that mythical string. Words from the Psalm I had read in the morning drift across my mind:
"But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me."
What did that even mean? I just weaned my youngest in June and rather than freedom, I feel as though one of the most useful tools in my toolbox has been swiped. My baby has become the polar opposite of "a calmed and quiet spirit." He continually needs to be perched on my hip, or his screams resemble those of a dying seagull.
The analogy snagged a bit as I turned it over in my thoughts. But I desperately wanted it to be true of my heart. The next day I did a little digging into some commentaries, hoping to smooth out my thoughts and bring understanding. Two things stood out, the first was a quote from James Boice,
"Before he was weaned, David wanted God only for what he could get from God. After he was weaned, having learned that God loved him and would care for him even if it was not exactly the way he anticipated or most wanted, he came to love God for God himself."
The second was from Spurgeon,
"You will never be weaned from Him if you are His; but if you are weaned from the world, so as to have all your hope in the Lord, thrice happy are you. Now, too, you will grow; now you will come to the fullness of the stature of a man ( or woman) in Christ Jesus, which you could never have done if you had not been weaned. I remember that when Sarah weaned Isaac there was a great feast at the weaning, and I believe that God's children often have a great feast at their weaning from the world. All the while we are but babes, and suck their comforts from the world, they get but little real joy; but when, by divine grace, they outgrow that state of things, then is there a great feast made for them."
I thought about the weaning process because it was so fresh in my mind. It wasn't terribly long and yet, in the middle of it, it seemed to stretch on for ages. And through it all, I did not withhold myself from my baby. He didn't have to step into this new stage alone. And though we are past the most difficult part, he is still growing and adjusting in this new season. Growth and change are not easy, but essential for maturity.
I thought about what the Lord might be trying to wean me from. My fear, insecurity, distrust of His faithfulness? And in the midst He is present, planning a future feast of celebration.
For now, in this moment, as I water the flowers and garden again, I breath in the scent of wet earth and whisper a prayer for a calmed and quiet spirit, a surrender to growth, and a desire to love God for himself.
"You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me." Psalm 139:5