The earliest of autumn’s crispness set into the evening air. Most likely, this was a one-night phenomenon, with many long, hot days to come in-between here and the shorter, colder days of fall.
Still, mama knew.
Change was coming. Change had already come.
And uncertainty was most certainly all around.
Mama just heard of a great actor and comedian’s passing. Suicide they suspected. And she couldn’t get over it. She couldn’t let it go. Because this great artist, this human being of a different kind made mama laugh, made mama cry. His portrayal of a great physician in Awakenings awakened her to life not once, but many times over. It was one of her favorites, a gentle-spirited movie about waking up to your life, capturing moments while they’re still in your grasp.
She was a little distraught about this passing. But she bathed her babe anyway.
The days since babe’s last bath had passed in a flash. After one glance at babe’s dirt-filled fingernails and brown-stained feet, mama knew it was time for that bath.
“My got my diaper off! My ready!” shouted babe as she waited for mama to fill the tub.
Mama turned on the water. Not too cold, not too hot. She threw in the bath toys – puppy dogs and fish-catching nets, wobbly-weebly people made for miniature yellow boats.
She watched as babe lathered up soap on a washcloth and scrubbed her body, her baby doll, her wobbly-weebly people, and even the bath ledge clean again.
Don’t we all walk ledges – longing for better days, opportunities to start over, desperate for someone to see us for who we are instead of the mask we’ve been? Don’t we all sit on ledges – waiting to feel clean, whole, restored to brand-new condition, free again?
Mama thought hard as babe scrubbed the bath ledge. She wondered how it could be that a celebrity, a comedian, a great artist of our time could be so desperate, so filled with pain, so wanting to leave this world.
The pain fell like a curtain. She felt all the pain of the world in that moment. And she wondered why moms and dads take their lives, why babes suffer beheading, why kids cross borders alone, why Ebola strikes ebony and threatens to spread like a deadly wildfire.
Babe continued to wash the bath ledge new.
Dad and son watched the Matrix in the other room.
And mama thought of Jesus. Jesus on the cross. His pain. His suffering. His crossing every border because of us. His name that spread. Like wildfire.
So mama decided. She couldn’t push away the joy because of the pain. And she couldn’t push away the pain because of the joy.
Babes take baths. And babes are beheaded. Children frolic in sprinklers. And children watch parents fall ill and pass in a matter of hours. Children are safe and sound in the comforts of home, and children are sent afar, alone, to cross borders in search of freedom. Children experience lifetimes with mommies and daddies, and children live orphaned because mommy and daddy couldn’t bear the weight of this world anymore. All under the same sky. All under the great canopy provided by God himself.
She didn’t understand. She didn’t grasp the purpose of this pain. She couldn’t fathom the point of it all, couldn’t reconcile this good and evil under the same blue sky.
So she asked, yet again, one of the greatest questions she’s ever asked God. Why must babes, innocent children suffer? And why is it that some humans sneak by with mere inconveniences, while others are bathed in blood, pain, trauma, poverty and the like?
Mama had to let it go. She had to release it to Jesus who suffered the greatest pain of all, to God who created it all. For us. For all of us.
So mama washed babe’s hair and smiled at her big. Because babes need encouragement if they’re to live upright in a culture that can feel completely hopeless. If we’re going to fight this fight, we musn’t give up. We must prepare our generation, the next generation, as armies of brave warriors. Warriors armed with belts of truth, breastplates of righteousness, and swords of the Spirit. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
She bundled her babe in a plush pink towel, and pulled out those pink pajamas with the frog on front. She read babe a book about the animals of the world. And she brought babe a glass of water before turning on the white noise.
Downstairs she went. She felt directionless, like her cares were nothing compared to the weight of this heavy, heavy globe called Earth.
Mama got out the vacuum. The floor was a disaster. Then she got out the mop. Because the vacuum hadn’t cut the grime. This mopping wasn’t as easy as it looked. She pushed hard, and while the floor was still dirty, she couldn’t bring herself to finish. Because it still seemed pointless compared to the world’s greater state of disaster.
It was then that she really heard, really noticed the girls out on the front porch. There were six of them, to be exact. Binders and bows, brushes and blow dryers laid on the table. A big bucket of clean water served as their source for making all things new in regards to their hair. They’d created a hair salon and were busy bees prepping and primping one another.
Mama addressed the first thing any mama would think of when it comes to homemade hair salons. Don’t share brushes. The girls already had that taken care of. They’d already gone home to get their own.
As mama lingered with the girls for a few quiet moments, she continued to have a hard time reconciling all this innocence with all the world’s tragedy.
She asked the hard questions. Again.
Why do these beauties have the privilege of creating a hair salon on a porch, while others equally as beautiful sit on a mountain top afraid for their lives?
Why do these beauties get to primp and play, while others equally as beautiful walk miles to cross borders into the unknown?
Why do these beauties have a clean bill of health, while others equally as beautiful suffer death?
Why do these beauties wonder whether their daddies will arrive back home at 5:00 or 6:00 tonight, while others equally as beautiful discover their daddy’s decided it’s the last night he can hack this world?
It’s hard to understand why God would allow all of this.
Hard questions don’t have easy answers.
But by the supernatural grace of God, powerful words came to mama’s mind.
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4
Then, mama decided she simply had to trust. That He’d take care of it all. That the world’s weight wasn’t hers to bear, but His.
So she let it go. As much as she could. She gave it up. To the One and only One who knows the purpose of all our pain, who knows the story He’s writing.
Two girls danced in the driveway with caps on their heads to protect the beauty they’d made. And one little girl came to mama needing help with her headband. Mama helped the little girl put on hope in the form of a butterfly, and sent the six beautiful warriors on their way.
The bikes swished and swooshed down the street.
Mama stood alone with the bowl of clean water.
Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. Mark 9:41
Mama couldn’t help the world, but she could help those she was called to help. For tonight, the gift had been water. The washing of water over a warrior babe in a bathtub. A glass of water before bedtime. A bowl full of water for warrior girls who know that it’s glimpses of beauty, glimpses of gratitude, glimpses of the Divine in the daily that make the world go round.