My eyes well up with tears, as I stare at his photo. I can hardly think about him without tears these days.
There’s nothing quite so tender as a momma’s heart for her child. Whether he’s twenty months or twenty years, the thought of her beloved takes a mom to a sweet, yet vulnerable place. Place her child under some sort of trial or distress, and a mother’s vulnerability and tenderness multiplies exponentially. How is it a mother feels everything her child feels but stronger?
My “child" is far away from me right now. Out of touch indefinitely. I spin my globe and ponder the vast oceans. My hands pass over searching and praying, a caress. My eldest son is in a submarine.
I asked him where they would go.
“I don’t know.”
“Will you know when you’re there?”
“Will they tell you where you went when you get back?”
“So you’re floating around somewhere in some ocean, but you don’t know where?!”
This feels like the epitome of estrangement. He could’ve gone to the moon, and I would look up each evening and say goodnight. Instead, I find my mind frantically grasping for something familiar to settle its uncertainty.
I imagine it’s dark, there’s a lot of metal, and I can see him doing . . I have no idea. Nothing is familiar about my son’s circumstances. This momma could rest with the unknown for a week even two. But months?! In this foreign place, I keep searching for the familiar, the known.
I see Josh in his uniform. It makes him plain like his peers. I can’t imagine him seeing new sights like I did when he traveled to Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and Russia. I would plead for pictures, and as each arrived I vicariously lived his excitement even as my heart and mind were comforted to see him safe and smiling again. Now he can’t even see the sunrise! But I know his mind; it’s rich. So I pray for his inner man.
The castle of the mind is a vast place. I know there’s a universe of thought and adventure just above his shoulders. I pray for new ideas, epiphanies, truths, questions, understanding, appreciations.
I’m reminded of how when someone loses a sense, they’re compensated with the intensifying of the other senses. In the darkness and world of metal . . no sunrise, no moon, no weather (no grey days, rain, clouds, wind, cold or hot) . . his static environment must be like losing the sense of smell or becoming color blind. Might his taste, touch, and hearing increase?
In the days before his departure, I pondered what I could give him to refresh himself on his journey. With limited baggage and no options of sending a care package, homemade cookies were out. Books were too bulky. Games too. Music! I’ve loved Handel’s Water Music since I discovered it as a teen. Sending it to Josh via iTunes was simple. It wasn’t until I’d sent it that I realized the irony.
Now I imagine Josh surrounded by an ocean, refreshing his soul with classical music inspired by water. Perfect. I listen to it daily and pray for him as I do. It’s a connection. Each suite evokes varied emotion which evokes varied requests. I know in the Spirit they could correspond. Or not. Either way, I’m comforted by the thought of his possible restoration and comfort.
The Spirit. I’ve never leaned so hard on the reality of our unity in Christ. In this estranged place, it is a lifeline of peace. When Josh chose to be a submarine officer, my whole connotation of this mysterious world changed. It remained mysterious, but the mystery wasn’t as entertaining as I’d found it before. A mom wants to know where her child is going, who’s going to be there, what life will look like in that place, and how can she reach him in an emergency!
Once again, I grasped for the familiar. Should I watch undersea documentaries? No, he’d never see any of that. Submarine movies were out. They’d only scare me. Josh wasn’t a helpful source of information, top-secret clearance and all. Who knew? Where could I go to find what I needed to know?
Then I remembered someone who is infinitely familiar with my son’s destination. He created it and commands it. I went to scripture, and in its pages I found the ultimate comfort.
Before there was time, the Spirit of the God I know so well, He hovered over the waters my son and his comrades "swim" in today. Timeless (before time) truths from Genesis, the Psalms, and Proverbs spoke solid reassurance to my soul.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will take hold of me.
My heart finds refuge, rest, and perfect peace in Him. This momma may be totally out of control of her beloved son, but her Father isn’t.
And that's everything I need to know.