My four and a half year old loves to sleep in my bed. I think he was probably two and a half when he figured out that he could sneak into my bed at night. He was a great crib sleeper - he loved his crib, and would willingly let me place him into the crib every night. Once I moved him to a bed though, he began to slip into my room at night. At first I fought his presence in my bed. I wanted him to be independent and sleep in his own bed. After a time, I realized that fighting him was actually adding to fuel to the fire - it was some sort of an elusive privilege to get in my bed. Over the past year, I've stopped fighting him. I figure eventually he will grow out of this phase of life, and want his own space. For now, I'm joined most nights by my son at some point through the night.
My son is not just content to be sleeping in the same space with me, he needs to touch me. Sometimes it's his foot or his bottom or his hand...but some part of him needs to be in contact with some part of me. This doesn't usually please me. My preference is that he would stay in a corner of the bed, and leave me in some peace. But, I can't really get too angry with him, he doesn't even know he's reaching out most of the time. He just does this instinctively.
A few days ago, as I was trying to fall asleep and had a hand on arm, I was reminded of a time he was in the hospital right before Christmas. My baby was a year old. He was there for five days. Because he was so small, I was afraid to leave him, even for a moment. I was fearful that he would wake up and not see anyone he knew, and panic. I lived in his hospital room those days, and spent hours and hours holding and touching this child. Even in his sleep. I would hold his hand or touch his feet.
As I thought more and more about my experiences with my child, I was reminded of the coming of the Christ child. What does this time of year remind me of? What am I preparing for? What am I most hoping for?
And in reality, it is for that one touch. Like Thomas, I'm not at all satisfied with just hearing about the Good News - no, I want to experience it for myself. I want the emotion of it and the love made manifest. An intellectual faith stopped making sense to me awhile ago. I want the wild and holy love of God.
The only place I know to look for this is in every relationship I have. It's in every interaction, every moment. Whether I recognize it or not, it is there. It is in the small things that seem insignificant and the grand things that seem overdone. In the laughter with good friends, and the tears of the kids I work with. I simply have to become more and more adept at recognizing all the times I come into contact with it. It really remains my job to open my hands and heart to the gift.
Like my child and his ability to locate my hand or foot in his sleep, I recognize the touch of God in life - my life and the lives around me. I deny it at times, I run from it at other times, and sometimes I just plain miss the big picture, but deep in my heart, the recognition is still there.
Last night I had dinner with friends. As we talked about my new "thing" - gatherings of people to talk about faith, life, love...I was excited and that excitement was evident. At some point in the conversation, one of them looked at me, and said, "I'm in. Just tell me when and where to show up." There is great wisdom in that statement - particularly as it relates to the Divine. My hope this year in this time of great expectation and joy is just that simple - God, I'm in. Just tell me when and where to show up. And maybe, as an added help - help me to recognize the divine everywhere in everything. Amen.