Like a trickle, it begins. A droplet here, a rivulet there, and then the dam, it breaks. A milling, roiling flood of youth spill lively down cement steps. In the inner city, another town, they’re coming to be fed.
We’re in the ‘hood. Where poverty reigns. Where fathers leave. Where homes, they break and shatter.
The line is long. So many kids in this basement plain; in a church house small, austere. Spoons dip. Hands reach. Plates fill. Juice pours, and fingers snap up donuts.
I watch them come, these dark-skinned teens. Some smile. Some chatter. Some–slump. Life’s heavy. So heavy (yes, it is) and the weight of it’s pressing them down.
Surely, I think as they file slowly through, pain can be shaped like a kid. Wearing earbuds.
On a different day, my phone chirps and tweets. A text from a friend’s just come in. “She miscarried.”
And like that, I can see her, this far-away friend. Blonde hair, warm heart, bright smile.
On Tuesday last, they’d buried her sister, the age of my own firstborn son. Sweet Bubby, all fat cheeked and squishy and kissy, was going to be a big brother. To a sister.
Surely, pain (I think as I’m reading the message) can be shaped like a babe. Like a mommy, womb empty.
Pain can be shaped like a prodigal child. Like a parent who’s waiting and praying.
It can look like a spouse, cast aside, full deserted. Like a widow, single mother, an orphan. Pain can look like that, too.
When pain has a shape and it’s yours, then what? When suff’ring’s got a name that’s yours, too, what then?
What can we know when the sky’s fallen down? Where’s solid ground when earth quakes? When he breaks every bone, turns insides to jelly, and trusting seems too much to ask? Oh, what then?
Maybe this. What if the one who loved us all first, way before we all loved him back? That one? What if he knows our shape, knows our suffering, our frame? Knows each dream that has died, each bone shattered?
What if he knows where we’re at and knows just how to reach us? Knows how hard and how costly is trust?
What if he comes (for he, too, was pain shaped) to bind up our wounds, to bring healing? Loving first.
This Healer can straighten the bones that once crippled. And Healer, He does know your name.
One day, broken bones shall rejoice, and gladness and joy shall be heard. Ps. 51:8