The picture above is an anchor for me. A documented remembrance like that of scales falling off my eyes for the first time and knowing that I’d be foolish to move forward indifferent.
One of my daughters had fled the scene of a disagreement in tears and lay weeping on the floor of her closet. After a considerable amount of time had passed and the lamenting had not abated, I took a deep breath and approached her room. When my heart is not in a ready posture for listening and understanding, it is very quick to encourage the move toward a solution with very little forbearance toward uncontrollable emotions.
But we’ll call it the strength of the Lord on this day, for in this particular moment I just went in with absolutely no expectation for resolve, clarity or tidying of emotions. I don’t think I even said anything. I inaudibly sighed, and laid down next to her. Right there on the closet floor.
When she realized I was not there to project my “solutions” on her, and I wasn’t there to make her feel less than for having big feelings, or undermine why she was hurt, the screaming lessened to cries and then minimized to whimpers. And we lay there together in the silence. Every now and then a sniffle breaking the space.
And then we looked up and saw the kaleidoscope of color made from her hanging dresses swirling around each other. I literally gasped at it’s redemptive beauty.
I find it no coincidence that when this picture was taken I was going through a photography course (highly recommend!) and the assignment for us to capture was one that showed “proof of presence.” Of all things.
I never did find out what was troubling her. But understanding her multi-layered sorrow was not the point. At least not then. It was the permission to feel and the will for me to stay near.
The image of those dancing dresses keeps floating in my mind these days. How often do we only have mercy for that which makes sense to us? How often are we trying to listen while busying our minds with a response? How willing are we to understand there is value in pursuing a relationship with someone knowing we will never understand them fully? Or how willing are we to move toward restorative practices that are difficult to measure?
I need to ask myself these questions again and again. You too?