to touch the bottom


The long-dreaded trial is scheduled for the same week our friend lay dying from her swift and ruthless cancer.    In the night, unguarded, I grind my teeth in futility.  A routine checkup reveals a fracture in one of my molars, and so the day before our court appearance I lay tilted in the dentist’s chair, waiting for the drill, tensed against potential pain.

It comes, like an arrow racing through my jaw and down my neck.  I gasp and grip the vinyl arms of my chair, while somewhere inside me a dam breaks.   The light shining in my eyes, the tubes, the drill, the noise, the invasion of hands and faces so near my own, the shooting pain, the fear of the trial, the sadness of losing a friend…I have to swallow to keep a sob down.  

Half an hour later, I have leaked all my sadness out silently while the dentist and his assistant drilled down deep, deep all the way to my roots.  

Before we finish there’s an emergency phone call.  I take myself, numb and swollen, to the phone in the staff lunch room.  Mark tells me the DA is on the other line.  There’s a plea bargain; they need my approval for some formality.  

 “And honey…there’s no trial tomorrow.  It’s over.”   I lean my head against the wall and breathe deeply.

At home finally, I throw down my keys and purse, sink into the wide armchair by the door.    The stack of mail I’d picked up at the post office yesterday is still in a pile where I left it.   I peer through the bills and the junk, jaw aching, not interested until I find a small package with my name handwritten on the front.  

Inside, folded neatly, is a pair of mittens - handmade.  They are wool, the exact blue-green color that I love.   Sarah, whom I’ve never seen and never spoken to, has knit these for me.  

I sit in the armchair with her letter, embracing the fellowship she offers and letting the quiet love touch all the way down, down to my roots.  I slip the mittens on, feel the real texture of kindness.   In my life I have been strong, and now, for some time, I have been weak.   In weakness I have uncovered a mystery that once eluded me:  the Holy Spirit doesn’t need our words, our hallowed halls, our magnificent accomplishments.  He is present in the temple of these bodies and He makes great grace of our small and earnest efforts. 

The living God is ever at work, drawing us toward mercy, urging us to love.  Here in my house, I glimpse  the ocean of God's tenderness and I want to go deep, deep, all the way down and touch the bottom.