• Dana L. Butler

How Love Makes Space {for the moms. and for every last one of us.}


Why is it, these quarantine days, that Jesus so often seems to meet me in my six-year-old's bedroom at tuck-in time?


Perhaps because the kids' bedtime is when I'm desperately itching to finally get to whatever it is I need to do. And my girl has a way—sometimes sweet, sometimes frustrating, often both in one package—of slowing me down.

Regardless, I find God in this bedroom, its floor littered with little girl shoes, tiny Hatchimals, and one heck of a gigantoid pink Care Bear.

Maia struggles to fall asleep tonight, strong ballerina calves feeling crampish in the wake of her afternoon Zoom ballet class. I offer to massage them and she agrees, so I perch on the side of her bed for the second time this evening. I take one leg in my hands, then the other, gently-but-firmly pressing my fingertips into her muscles, trying to loosen them up.


She begins to relax, but pain shoots up and down my right arm.

I have a shoulder injury. Been dealing with it for the last year or so. It's an overuse issue—don’t know how I did it, really, just a lot of reaching, grabbing, scrubbing, typing, typing, and more typing. Livin' that mom/writer/editor/speaker life. I'm in tele-physical-therapy these days and it is slowly-but-surely improving. Who knew pre-Covid all the things we could make work over these glowing screens?

I feel my injury kind of a lot, though, when my sweet husband asks me to work the knots out of his upper back, like he did earlier today, or when my girl needs her growing legs worked on, like tonight.

And as the pain reminds me of my frailty, compels me to go easy, I feel my attention drawn, too, to the sight and feel of my fingers against my girl's lower legs. Then her feet.


I slow my movements even more.

Relax. I'm here. You be here, too. Feel these seconds for all they're worth. It's more of an internal nudge than an actual articulated whisper, but those are the best words I can wrap it in now, placing fingers to keys.


The moments move into slow motion.

*****

My mom has this ancient electric massager—she's had it since I was small. I have memories of my dad sprawled prone on the living room floor after work, her rubbing his back, with that thing buzzing loud as a lawnmower to my five-year-old ears.

Not even arthritis stops Mom from pulling that contraption out nowadays for mine and Stan's necks when we come to visit. I'm quite sure there's real discomfort for her now in using it, but her love always makes space for that.

*****

Love makes space for that.

Like it makes space to feel and care for its own injury, yet to be wholly there for a daughter's crampy, growing dancer legs.


Like it makes space to acknowledge the strain, the strain, the STRAIN of these unending coronavirus days and still be present to small, cooped-up humans. Day-in, and out, and in, and out, and in again.

Love can hold all of this. Love can be honest about its own pain and open its arms, making space to heal others' pain, too.

Like the pain of a fast-approaching Mother's Day that promises zero respite for most exhausted, anxious moms. Not in 2020.

Or: the grief of an impending holiday that seems created to lift others' hearts, but fashioned precisely to split yours wide.

Or: loss with a thousand other varieties of sharp edges.

Love doesn't always hold it all gracefully. It doesn't have to.


It stumbles and drops things, can be oh, so clumsy, can even get mad--but it apologizes and owns the hurt caused. It does better, and it's kind to itself--it knows Love covers.


And it opens its arms again, still making space, still choosing to feel and acknowledge its own weakness, even while allowing pain to be a point of connection with others' still-healing places.


Scarred love can heal the wounded, see?

Sustained in its frailty by the One whose wide open arms carried the pain of all humanity, and to this day make space, and make space, and make space again...


...to tenderly hold, and connect with, and heal ours, too.

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