It’s morning, the first of a new year, and the kids are sleeping in.
I start in Jonathan’s room. I kneel at his bed and stroke his forehead and say “Hey little man,” and kiss him before he groggily comes to. And then I ask God to bless his day and the rest of his school holidays and his whole life, really.
“This is how it works,” I whisper. “God gave you to me and your mother to take care of for a short time.”
And he tells me something like yes, of course, he knows all this. But I’m not sure that he does, or that any of us do, not really, this strange throwing together of people, strangers somehow and loved ones certainly too, for a season of time.
Then it’s to the girls’ room, to Hannah on the top bunk. And as I stroke her forehead, it’s the same prayer – for God to bless this dear child’s life beyond anything either of us might imagine – and then a few other words. There’s the program she watched last night, the fact that it’s New Year’s morning.
Then in the bed below, it’s Liz – “God, would you bless this girl’s life? Would you bless this girl in a way that’s pushed down and shaken together and running over?” I stroke her long hair.
It’s all good right down to the bones, if only for the reason that mornings are when there ‘s enough quietness and peace in the house to think about any of this. And if only for the reason that this new year is also so uncluttered and fresh.
Soon the rest of the day will take over. Even as the year will, one day flowing into another. Then, eventually, more years, until these rooms in this house in Africa will be empty of these stories, each one of them in some other place and time.
But this is now. The first day of something. A time to look ahead.