Words are a comfort to me. They press in around me while I am lying awake in bed. I can feel the word mercy wrap me up like a weighted blanket. I have heard the heavy clank and felt the ground shake under the weight of that word as it anchored my soul to the bottom of a raging ocean. It held me there until a great storm had passed.
I hold onto words like hope the way I wrap my arms around my two-year-old daughter, who journeys down the long, dark staircase every night around midnight to find me. I squeeze that word in close and breathe in the fragrance of it. And I feel the warmth and glow that surrounds it. It is the same color as the shimmer of red hair in sunlight.
Momentum is a word that keeps knocking on my front door. I shut the door quickly, because I have too much laundry, too many house projects, too many people on my mind to sit and chat with her about how the baby will be here in six weeks and I have yet to look in the attic and see if I still have baby boy clothes. I know what is going to happen. I will be in the middle of a regular day of schooling, dishes, read-alouds, rearranging, trying to savor life, and I will stop with a sudden jerk and realize I am in labor. And that will start a new momentum that will change the history of the world. But I don’t have time to discuss this with her. So I block her calls and send her letters back, unopened.
Some words I have to chase away in dreams. I bat them off with pillows. Words like time–which never seems to be moving at the right speed. It is always trying to sweep me up too fast and carry me too high above the ground–on balloons or kites or in the clutches of a great bird of prey–, or it is begging me to let everything else go and just sit with it, bask in it, ask for more of the golden sunshine of it. I am spending it too fast. I am not making the most of it. I am going to lose the precious bit of it I have. God forbid, I am wasting it. Or I am going to run out of it.
The word comfort sits with me. She sings to me like my Mother did when I was a child. My beautiful mother by moonlight. She strokes my hair and tells me to think of happy things when I have a bad dream that is actually not a dream at all but something that could very well really happen. Or something that is happening right now. She tells me that I am loved, that my life has meaning, that there is no need to be afraid. I believe her. And under the influence of her lilting voice, I finally drift off to sleep.
It is seasons like the one I am now living that I am grateful for these marks that represent letters that combine to make words that ignite thought and can carry me through the unrelenting momentum of time passing with the hope and comfort of God’s unending mercy.
In every storm.