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For the love of a good story

Daughter,

You were just a hope last October.

You were curled up inside me, dancing unseen, and your hiccups were my favorite.

Last October your heart could have stopped beating, I know these things can happen because I have lived them.

A year ago you spoke to me through rhythmic taps, sharp turns, early morning wiggles to wake me up, sleepy afternoon naps as I chased your brothers, and tumbling evenings while I snuggled with your Dad. I saw you grainy on the ultrasound machine and placed my hand awestruck when a foot or knee appeared beneath my skin.

A year ago, you still needed to stay inside me another month and survive the adventure that is birth.

You were a wish, a dream, a prayer. I think I’m wise enough to know you weren’t a promise. Better mamas than I have felt more babies wash from their wombs or had to lay them in graves with aching arms.

You were not a promise – nothing is. No story is ever promised to us except life everlasting, and joy right now in all this crazy beautiful mess.

Somehow I held hands wide open and caught that joy. Grace pried my hands apart so I could scoop you up and savor every moment. Grace held my fearful soul until it stopped shaking. And still we waited uncertain, last October.

Eugene Peterson reminds us that we all share a “narrative hunger,” almost as strong as our hunger for physical nourishment, stronger even than the need for shelter and love, saying “Millions survive without love or home, almost none in silence; the opposite of silence leads quickly to narrative, and the sound of story is the dominant sound of our lives.

Together, we long for a good story, a story with dark and light and power to it. My darling girl, you are a very good story, one of the best I know.

So why do we distance ourselves from the rest narrative holds? Why are we always grasping for steps, plans, formulas and strategies? These are for winning and losing, and we are meant for living and loving. Why when the story holds pain do we not take a moment to sit and weep? Always  striving to understand and fix, we miss the song as it rises and falls, heartbreakingly beautiful. The story is what gives us strength to fight, to find the light.

As a new believer, poet Christian Wiman wondered, ” I begin to think that anything that abstracts us from the physical world is ‘of the devil’… Christ speaks in stories as a way of preparing his followers to stake their lives on a story, because existence is not a puzzle to be solved but a narrative to be inherited and undergone and transformed person by person.”

That is why my hands will find these keys and fumble for words whispering what you mean to me.

Telling you that you are gospel story.

Helping you on your way to living truth.

Showing you that you are ever only a beloved daughter even when this world will tell you otherwise.

I don’t know if anyone else will care, but if I could engrave your story for all the centuries I would, so I will type… to begin this October telling of what has been, and what is – and to dream with you. To recount age old stories of grace and joy, singing of the One who overcomes darkness.

– photos by my love, Jesse McKeeman with the Hasseblad

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