I am so honoured to host Holly Grantham here, whom I first encountered through her gorgeous post, My Broken Hallelujah.
So, I have this son who, from the moment he was born, pulled my heart out into the open and now I walk around hoping and praying that the strings that hold it together, now threadbare and fuzzy, don’t come completely unraveled before each day is done. Mothering will do that to your heart, you know—wear it out and in and all around.
We’ve walked a path, he and I … one rife with curves and twists, shadows and light, knowing and unknowing.
And so, it was no small thing, in recent days, to walk with him to the edge of the forest and uncurl our finger locked hands for the first time. I kissed his dewy head, damp with apprehension and fear and excitement, and I hugged his squishy body, the one that always gives into my embrace like lungs do to air, and I said goodbye.
In that moment, I felt the lifeblood flow right out of me, pooling on the ground, while the sun caught its crimson blush and the light danced like a joy dare.
The days that followed would be more than tests of space and time—they would be like a great awakening … an opening to and an awareness of something deep and long and wide.
In his absence, I continued to walk paths, whether out of habit or compulsion or need, I’m not sure. My walking and my pacing and my fretting wore grooves in the casts of sunlight and pulled taught on strings laced with moonlight. My side of the week became this great carving out, wherein my prayers and fears fashioned a mandala, of sorts, and all of my hopes and worries for my son were drawn in the dust of each day.
In this lengthy separation I couldn’t help but marvel at the way life can surprise us so. That, even as we take clay in our hands and warm it with our touch, as we shape and mold it and dream of the shapes it will take and the forms it will embody, there is something else very much at work.
There is not one artist at work when sculpting a life.
As I wholeheartedly pour myself into my child and as much as that informs many of the lines and perimeters of his person, there is also this great expanse of heart space that is being wrought deep within. There are hidden places that have my fingerprints upon them, yes, but they are still being worked and kneaded and forged.
There are other hands at work.
In the days that came between me and my son, those hands were busy.
They arrived the first night in the middle of a thunderstorm. As the sky burst open in a shower of sparks and the clouds answered with booming shouts, words of peace and comfort found their way to my son’s heart. A hundred miles away, I cowered in the shadows, imagining the fear that might be stomping across the tender ground of his heart, all the while, in a canvas tent supported only by poles and wires, my son nestled down in the comfort of his sleeping bag, his arms encircling his beloved stuffed monkey, valiantly riding out the storm.
Those hands would take other forms throughout the whole of that week.
In a test of strength and endurance, my son would swim with new skill and budding power and his sweet reward would be to score higher than even some of the adults.
His legs would lengthen and his middle slim as he walked, mile upon mile, day after day, into lessons and discoveries and friendships.
But, perhaps, the greatest shaping would be revealed on the night I visited him. Apprehension curled around the edges of my resolve as I anticipated our parting at the end of the evening and the drive between hither and yon was riddled with script writing and the practice of separation, once again.
No one was more surprised than me when, upon seeing the more chiseled features of his face and the inches he had grown, my joy leaked liquid down my cheeks. And that boy of mine? His face simply cracked open and love burst through like glory come down.
For in the days that passed between us, those spaces that I had always taken up in his heart? Well, they had found some breathing room. Time and distance had managed to open windows deep within that had too long been fastened. And now there were fresh breezes where once the air had been stuffy and stale. Evidently, there was enough space for more than one Sun to shine in my sweet boy’s heart.
Our parting that night was bridged by tangled arms and warm embraces, soft kisses and whispered blessings. No, I didn’t want to leave him but I released him to the warm summer night and the twinkling of fireflies and to the faith that just as the moon rose and swelled on that eve of the summer solstice, my son was being rocked in the bosom of One bigger and greater than I.
This motherhood journey has a way of expanding heart space in more than just our children. A mother’s heart breaks open when her children are born and then she spends the rest of eternity trying to stay the love hemorrhage that ensues.
This exercise in letting go of my son has revealed much. I can see more clearly now that this raising of children is very much like a dance. There are steps to be taught and rhythms to learn and many times, there are bruised toes to accompany wounded pride. But there is value in the practice and joy in the twirling and there are few places where I have been more open to the choreography of God.
So, my son and I, we will clasp hands and swing arms, always. I can’t imagine a day when such will not be the case. But perhaps it is now time to let someone else take the lead. There is music playing and the floor is wide open. And we can’t help but step into the light and spin.
Holly is a wife, very relaxed homeschooling mom of two boys (soon to be three), snapper of photos, coming of age writer and a soul drowning in grace. After years in Atlanta where she attended college, married the love of her life and lived in an intentional community, she found her way back to her home state of Missouri. She now lives in an antebellum stone house, raises chickens (sometimes) and pretends that she lives in the country.