In my last writing, I said I wanted to widen my lens, to wander, to be open, to see what I could see during these weeks of Advent. I knew that would come as I read and prayed and pondered each day.
However, I was a little disappointed. The words I tried to read just seemed like a schooled assignment. I expected I would be challenged by the insight that would appear on the page. Maybe, I was trying too hard to pay attention to the wrong thing. It is easy to say I am going to be open to whatever comes, but most often, what happens catches me unaware.
And that is what happened on Tuesday. In the middle of the day, the unexpected unfolded. In the midst of the ordinariness, I guess I did open up just enough to receive the lesson of trust, but it did not come from my own trusting.
Driving home, I answered my phone because it was my daughter and she doesn’t usually call me often. After she asked the question she had called to ask, she followed with, “Do you have a few minutes?”
Usually, that question means “I have something important to discuss.” So, of course, I said yes and I parked so I could listen. I am not good at attentively listening and attentively driving at the same time.
“Would you pray for me tomorrow?”
“Yes, I pray for you every day, but I’ll pray extra tomorrow.”
“I’m on overnight call for the first time since before Stella was born.”
Ahhh, her mind goes to the “what if’s,” just like me. She continued to describe her mind’s race, She concluded that she knew her husband would care for their daughter and her brother and it was more than that.
She was sad. Every morning and every evening for all of her life, Stella wakes up and goes to bed breastfeeding. This would be the first time that wouldn’t be possible. I thought about the sacredness of that bond. I thought about how hard it is for a mother to let go, even when her children aren’t even children any more. I hope I listened.
My daughter trusted me with her sadness. She didn’t want my advice or the stories of my days with young children. She didn’t want me to fix her problem or assuage her feelings. It wasn’t easy for me to not give solutions or worse, to say it will be all right. I just hope I listened.
My daughter wanted me to hear her sorrow, to share her grief. She trusted me to do that. She trusted that her husband would soothe Stella in his own way, in those moments before sleep the next night. She trusted Stella to be satisfied with the cup of cold milk she’d be offered the next morning. Being able to trust, even for one moment, changes the way we see one another.
Being trusted is a gift we do not earn, despite the popular notion that many mothers repeat. Trust is a gift we give because that is what has been given to us. Mostly, the gift has to be given over and over until we learn to give it back ourselves.