The sun has now set on this Holy Saturday. The last darkness of Lent is upon us and when the sun rises tomorrow, the celebration will already be well underway. I can feel the anticipation building as I prepare for the Easter Vigil, which begins in just a few hours at church. The joy in my heart is building.
Twelve years ago today, I held my newest baby girl in my arms. She was born in the middle of the night at my home, in my bed, surrounded by more love than I can comprehend. Her daddy and her big sisters were there, both of her grandmas were there, one grandpa, and two dear friends of mine who remain my dear friends still (one of them even became her aunt!). The night that she was born, I truly carried the cross and bore the weight of sin and followed my Lord into the desert. And joy came in the morning. Oh, the joy when I was finally delivered from that pain. I knew pain with that third birth much more than the first two. But oh, the joy when I beheld her face. Oh, how we exclaimed over her precious dimples. Oh, how I remember waking up to that beautiful little blessing of love, nestled in between her father and me, just a few hours after falling asleep with her between us in the exact same place where she took her first breath.
Today, twelve years later, I feel like I am awakening to new life once again. This Lenten season has not been easy. I have followed my Lord into one of the most barren deserts I have ever known. And I have not carried this cross well. I have heard Lent described as a bright sadness. Tonight, I know it. For while I stumbled under my load and found that I could not go on, He continued on. While I entered into one of the most debilitating depressions I have ever known over these last couple months, the beauty and the blessings of a world that is being redeemed has continued upward and onward toward the Easter Feast. And I am thankful beyond words that I was able to seek help for my depression. And in my seeking, I found more than I even asked for.
Tonight, as I sit in my house surrounded by love, I listen to my middle daughter play a hauntingly beautiful piano concert. The notes fly around this house that has been blessed over and over and over. The music only continues to lift it heavenward and we wait. All of us, waiting. My oldest daughter cleans her room and hangs up colorful lights and sings as she rummages through drawers looking for extension cords. The birthday daughter puts her newest picture frame together, after a day of swimming in her new backyard blow-up pool. Even though the freckles aren’t as noticeable as they used to be, she definitely got a few new ones today. And those dimples are still just as precious as they were in those first few moments after she was born, twelve years ago today.
Tonight, we all feel satisfied after a birthday dinner at her favorite Italian restaurant. And tonight, in just a few hours we feast again.