In a dimly lit room, I sit in a plastic chair across from a young woman wearing a black hijab. With eyes focused on a computer screen, she asks several standard questions before performing my eye exam.
No, I don’t have a history of diabetes. No, I don’t have glaucoma. Uncharacteristically, I scheduled this free eye test on a Sunday, before the coupon expires. On Mother’s Day to avoid my inevitable disappointment.
That last sentence wasn’t audible but swimming inside my head.
Until two years ago, for my entire life, I’ve associated May as the month for Mother’s Day. But in the UK, Mother’s Day is in March. As an expat, this creates a conundrum in my household that leaves me feeling meh about what should be a celebratory occasion.
Like turning clocks forward on the same day we honor mothers who are often sleep deprived, two choices about when to celebrate Mother’s Day initially seem good, but in actuality, create an impairment.
Do we celebrate in March or wait until May? Half-hearted on both dates has become my new reality.
As a clergy wife, Mother’s Day falls on our busiest day of the week. And my least favorite activity is eating out on Sunday, the day I choose to rest.
What do you want me to do for you? It’s a question Jesus asks his disciples James and John and the same one he asks Bartimaeus, a blind man sitting on the side of the road. It’s the question my people ask every Mother’s Day and I often acquiesce. I fear imposing on the people I love.
“It’s straightforward; it’s simple, isn’t it? It’s obvious how a blind man would answer that question, but Jesus wants to hear him say it with specificity and without reservation. He’s asking you and me the same question when it comes to making rest a rhythm. How will you answer?” Rhythms of Rest, page 43
“Move your chair forward, rest your chin on the white plastic, and lean your forehead into the metal bar,” the doctor instructs.
As I stare at white letters illuminated on a screen, I hear a woman’s angry voice in the next room. “I got a text from her. Not a card, phone call, flowers or a gift, just a text. She’s nineteen and knows better than that.”
What I hear during a pause in a quiet room convicts my heart.
Unmet expectations sound entitled, ungrateful, and selfish from where I sit.
They sound a lot like me.
Forgive me Lord.
“James writes, ‘Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak,’ but often I get his warning backward: Be slow to listen and quick to speak and communicate a great love story with yourself. Communicate you don’t matter to the ones you love the very most.” A Sabbath Journey for Lent
I’m often slow to speak of what I need and want with specificity. Instead, I analyze what I hear and rehearse how I will respond in a futile attempt to shield myself from vulnerability.
The death of expectations can be painful but not as painful as living a disappointed life; disappointment from what could’ve been instead of thankfulness for what is.
“Is it clearer in one . . .or two? Clearer in three . . . or four?” asks the doctor as rows of letters blur and focus, fog and clear up.
Clearly, value and worth are not determined by sentimentality on a day but in the death of a Savior on my behalf. When the room is fully lit, I lean back in the chair and wait to hear results from calculations.
“Your eyes have declined to the next level,” she says. And I carry home a prescription for new lenses.
Sometimes what we hear isn’t what we expect. And Sabbath is God’s way of parenting us, his children. As we lean into the quiet and listen, clarity breaks through the paper thin walls of the heart with love and belonging.
Back home, I lie down in a swath of Sabbath sunlight, drench my face in warmth, and listen to bees buzzing around the open window and birds chirp from the treetops until I become drowsy.
When I awaken to the sound of a male voice, I realize H and Harrison are standing over me holding Mother’s Day cards.
“May we, on this fourth week of Lent, rise from auditory slumber and echo Samuel’s words: “Speak, your servant is listening.” May we be like the blind man and tell Jesus what we want with specificity.” A Sabbath Journey for Lent
As we rest our ears from unnecessary noise this week and practice sitting in silence, what are you hearing that is normally missed in busyness? Share with the community in the comments.