Because Mercy has been sick and has been coughing so badly lately, Doug and I have been taking turns cuddling her in her bed at night while she falls asleep. Last night as I was lying with her, I heard a series of horrible yells and screams outside. It turned out to not be a crisis, just some new neighbors accross the street who regularly make a lot of noise.
Mercy has finally started to be affected by the noises here at night. I used to marvel at how she never seemed to be bothered by the chaos that often surrounds us here. But that seems to be changing. We were recently summoned to her room by frantic cries and when we got to her she told us that two men had come into her room. There were guys outside making noise and talking, and because they were right beneath her it did sound like they were actually in her room with her.
After the screaming subsided, I started to get up from her bed when some loud cars came ripping down our street, tires screeching. I felt Mercy’s little body flinch. I waited a bit longer and again was about to leave when the sirens began. A helicopter passed overhead and a fire truck or ambulance cruised down Jefferson at top volume. She tossed and turned and whimpered. Eventually, there was enough of a break in the noises outside for her to relax and settle and fall fast asleep.
I thought about the way this captures how life here can sometimes feel: the longing for enough of a stretch of peace to allow your mind and heart to rest; the tense waiting, when it actually is quiet, to see if the quiet will stay. And the disappointment when the next siren, gunshot, or scream comes.
Our church is growing. People’s lives are being changed by encounters with a living, loving God. And yet it seems that there is a steady stream of oppression, affliction, and setbacks that just don’t seem to stop. I need to learn how to dwell in the midst of this; to not be paralyzed by what is but to also not lose the ability to hope for what is not. I need a peace that surpasses understanding; a peace that defies and transcends what I hear and see. And like my daughter, I need the comfort of safe and steady arms that cover and hold me.
“Show me the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.”