Pressing In

This essay was written back in February during a hard few weeks.  Health, stress, and winter blues were a challenge, but although the sun is out and the world a lot brighter, the message still rings true, no matter the season

It was a long, stressful day.  A day filled with the usual failures and the typical frustrations of parenting, housekeeping, and just being human.  I know this season of life is a challenge, but this season of year just makes it even tougher.  I was driving to the grocery store with my Firefly in tow, who was quietly watching the world as it passed by her window.  She’s an observant, sharp little thing.  I’m constantly amazed by her assessment and understanding of the world around her.  As we drove the familiar path, rain smearing the windows, I turned on music to pass the time.  An old favorite started pouring through the speakers.  I listened with fresh ears and was surprised to find tears pouring down my face and choking sobs rising up from my chest.

I remember a friend of mine describing a sacred, special moment she shared with her adopted son.  After bringing him home from three years in an orphanage, she would watch as he hurled himself off of furniture, crashing into the floor, the wall, anything he could to just feel something.  This is not uncommon behavior in children that have experienced neglect, abuse, or trauma.  There’s often a disconnection in the vestibular sense (ability to sense your body in relation to your surroundings) and proprioception (ability to discern the senses and motion of your own body.)  Lack of touch, lack of holding, and just sensory struggles in general can lead to a child feeling physically insecure in his environment and in his own skin.  One day, while observing this behavior, she scooped him into her arms and began gently squeezing him, pressing here and there as she caressed and held him.  “This is your arm,” she said.  “Here is your leg.  Feel your knee moving?”  As she continued, tears started streaming down his face as a release came over his little body.  In that moment, wounds that he didn’t even know he had were being named and healed.

I thought of this precious story as I sat in my car and wept.  You see, this song pressed on points and released fears I didn’t even see.  I’ve been too busy hurling myself through the world, trying so hard to understand myself and my surroundings. Trying to feel something.  I needed a Loving Father to scoop me up and press on the parts that hurt.  “Here are your fears.  Here are your sadnesses. Here are your gifts- see how they dovetail your weaknesses?”  As usual, He used honest lyrics and achingly beautiful music to press down deep and name the weights I’ve been carrying.  Sometimes it’s literature that excavates my feelings or art that illuminates the longings of my heart.  Whatever the means, I find that I’m often moved to tears or dancing at the sudden feeling of freedom that comes with understanding my place and posture in this world.  The freedom that comes with naming the frailties and acknowledging the hopes. 

At an annual arts event I recently attended, the pastor, in his opening remarks, mentioned the importance of art in communicating the Gospel.  He asserted that art often has the ability to bypass the mind and speak straight to the heart.  We are so good at mincing words and parsing phrases.  We are experts at selecting what facts and what philosophies to embrace.  But in encountering something profoundly inspired and beautifully crafted, we are knocked off our feet and forced to look deeply within and desperately up.  And in that looking up, that seeking, that longing, we find ourselves in the arms of a loving God, who gently holds and presses, reminding us all the while how very loved we are.