The rain is falling softly, steadily and I am sitting next to the window just watching it. The kids are out of school and running wild and loud somewhere upstairs. They should be reeled in and I have so much work to do, but for a moment I need to just be. The puppy curls up in my lap and I hold a large mug of green tea which radiates heat into my cold hands. I slip my feet out of wet shoes and find a perfect resting spot for frigid toes on the heater vent in the floor.
I love Christmas but I despise the consumerism of our culture during the season. I complete most of my shopping on-line, and do everything in my power to be completely finished long before those few weeks in December, only venturing out into the insanity when I have no other option.
Last night was one of those times. Just as I finished my errand and made my way to the cashier, I heard an agitated woman say something about “Spiderman”. I asked her what she needed and told her there were several Spiderman items in the $1.00 bins in front of us.
“There is a nice notepad down on the right,” I said.
She then looked at me and responded with a doom more fitting for someone who had just swallowed a deadly poison and could find no antidote than someone shopping for stocking stuffers, “A watch,” she said. “I need a Spiderman watch.”
“Oh,” I replied. “I bought one of those…”
“You are kidding!” She exclaimed.
Then she said…
“I will pay you anything for that watch!”
Now at this point, you need to understand my personality. Desperate, dramatic people make me very uncomfortable. If it is a situation of true desperation such as famine, poverty, illness, accident, injury or death, I am moved by compassion and empathy. If it is a plastic Spiderman watch at stake, I want to run away.
“I don’t have it with me,” I lamely replied.
“I will come to your house, or meet you somewhere,” she begged.
“It was just cheap,” I countered.
“I don’t care!” she said.
At this point, I realized I needed to do something to extract myself from the situation that did not include the woman following me to my car, my house….all in pursuit of a Spiderman watch.
“I tell you what,” I said. “If you will give me a moment, I will try to think of where I purchased it.”
At this, she just waited, staring at me. Frankly, this was not helping me remember. I turned away from her and began to look at some other items when it hit me:
“The Dollar Tree,” I said. “I bought it at The Dollar Tree.”
For those of you who don’t know, The Dollar Tree is a store where everything in the store is the same price: one dollar.
“The Dollar Tree! The Dollar Tree!!” she exclaimed. “Where is it?”
I gave her directions and warned her her that I had purchased the watch a month before and it might not be there any more.
As she was rushing from the store she said, “It doesn’t matter. If it is not there I will get on the phone and call other Dollar Trees no matter how long it takes. I will drive to them if necessary!”
Then, she was gone and I was left laughing.
I laughed all the way home. I laughed because it was ridiculous but I also laughed at the wonder of the power of God to provide peace in my life.
It occurred to me that although I had received the report from a recent MRI earlier in the day that the disks in my lower back are deteriorating in addition to the ones in my neck and that one of them is herniated, I have peace. The pain colors my life some days more than others, and limits my ability to keep up with the responsibilities of rearing five kids but I have peace. One of my kids, who is absolutely working as hard as she can work, is failing in school and will be held back. She is heartbroken and frustrated. I grieve with her but I have hope and can in turn sow that hope into her life. Not long ago, a man ambushed me at knife point but I am not afraid. We moved into this house and my husband’s business immediately began to struggle and our finances dropped through the floor but I sleep just fine at night. I am not saying that I never get frustrated, or tired, or sad but underneath it all…there is peace, far more peace than the woman on her quest for a Spiderman watch.
The kids are running about in a frenzied sugar high from class parties this morning, and dirty laundry is spilling out of the laundry room eventhough I have worked on it all week. A kid wet the bed again last night…The puppy chewed the head off a disposable razor last Saturday and had to have x-rays. She also ate the arms off two Barbie dolls and left puppy teeth prints all over the little shepherd boy from the Haitian Nativity Scene. My oldest son lost his retainer and is sulking because he is grounded.
My back hurts.
But the rain is falling, my feet are warm and I know without a doubt that tea is one of God’s best gifts. My kids are all well. My husband is healthy. The puppy did not die.
God is my refuge and strength and He draws me under His wing and sings over me. Me.
And so my heart bows before the Hope in the manger once again. Emanuel. God with us. Jesus Christ, the hope of glory in me…
And I am blessed.