We were swimming in large pool. I thought I was going to be teaching Cohen to swim, but as it turned out, he was already a great swimmer. He dove to the bottom of the pool effortlessly and swam down on the floor like no one I had ever seen. He looks like a guppy, I thought to myself with a smile. I then noticed that the pool had no deep end- it was all deep. My feet couldn’t touch the bottom. Co was under water longer than I thought he could be, but again he labored without noticeable effort. Then I saw him struggling as he rocketed to the surface of the water. He didn’t realize he was out of air until the last second. I held him and then he dove back under, I did my best to stay above him as he swam deep to the bottom of the pool, knowing it was likely he’d again not recognize when it was time to come up for air. He zig zagged from here to there; I struggled to keep up. Then he swam right into a volleyball game happening on the other side of the enormous pool. I panicked. He bumped into legs and feet, but kept on going. I could barely make my way through the sea of bodies. The volleyball smacked down beside me.
Saturday morning I woke up to this dream. The images were as vivid as a movie, thanks to the pregnancy hormones which often make dreaming seem as real as being awake.
Some years ago I attended a Sara Groves concert with my sister and my parents. She had just released her album, The Other Side of Something. I listened as she talked about the inspiration for the songs coming almost entirely from a struggle she’d had with the Lord over her two sons. Though she was herself ready to take on whatever God asked of her, the thought that her children might suffer was unsteadying. She talked about searching the Scriptures for assurance that her children would be protected, but time after time only discovered that it was most likely that they would be hurt and maimed by life, the sin of others, their own sin and times, possibly even God. Those gut wrenching 11 songs were written as she fought these realities, finally making peace with the sovereignty and goodness of God.
Though I wasn’t a parent at the time – or even a married woman- her words resonated with me and some seven years later are still with me.
Cohen turned four last Friday… unbelievable. When you have a baby everyone tells you to enjoy it because it goes fast, but they tell you this when you’re in newborn land and days run into each other, filled with sleeplessness and feedings and dirty diapers. It is hard to believe them then, but one day you turn around a six months or a year has passed and all the little things you thought you’d never forget are starting to get fuzzy in the files of your memory.
When he woke up in our caboose cabin that morning (I will post photos at some point- so cute! an old caboose converted to a cabin in Hocking Hills) he hopped into bed with us. I had only moments earlier hopped into bed with David (the caboose only had single beds), not sure I’d even fit with my burgeoning belly. With Cohen added to the mix, we were very snug little bugs. In keeping with my mom’s tradition, I told him about the day he was born… about waking up early in the morning not feeling “right”, about how I mopped the floor and then drove myself to the hospital… about that terrifying and wonderful moment when the nurse checked me and said, “well we’re having a baby today!”… and about the moment when I heard his cry, saw his face and learned he was (as I had suspected) a boy. He ate it up. I felt like it was so near I could almost relive it for a moment myself.
The Spring does something to Cohen. This is the first year I have been able to them together enough to understand some of it. Change is a hallmark of Spring… new buds, new life, new length of days, new warmth in the air. For us, the last few Aprils have meant even more change than what naturally occurs. Three years ago, Cohen was turning one. We had his birthday on a tour bus. Though the events of how and why and what exactly have been stripped from my remembrance, there was a feeling that the marriage was salvageable and that we might be a family. A week later, the veneer on that hope cracked and began its slow 8 month crumble. His second birthday rounded out a month of changes: papers filed, a move from our own place to live with my parents, a full time job for me. Last year, he turned three weeks after the divorce was final (not that it meant any real changes to his everyday life) and we entered a new season that foreshadowed what would soon be our new reality.
There are a lot of things Cohen doesn’t know. But there are a lot of things he does know that I wish to God he didn’t. He often surprises me with his words and insight and understanding. This is a double edged sword. A friend recently encouraged me to ask Cohen about a particular circumstance to explore what he was aware of. So I did. I asked. I sat and listened as he explained a series of contexts and implications. I felt shock and sadness. Shocked at the sheer vastness of what he had gleaned from whispered conversations and words that had never been explained to him. Sad that the words had ever touched his ears, sadder still that the contexts even exist.
This year on his birthday, things are as settled as they have ever been for us. There is some unfinished business on the near horizon but by and large there is peace and calm. Some days I think Co can feel the loose ends as much as I can, though he knows little of the situation that lies ahead. We pushed it out of all our guts for a few days of birthday camping and hiking and togetherness. Cohen seemed light as a feather, giddy and full of life. David and I spoke briefly about times that this isn’t true. We sat by the smoldering campfire with cups of coffee while Co launched his hot wheels off the picnic table ramp into the woods.
I thank God for the changes that this year has brought our family… for stability and a home and expansion, for the new life inside of me, for David. I look forward with expectation to the changes that are still unfolding and are finally soon coming.
Being a parent is not for the faint of heart. Though Sara’s words in that concert struck a chord with me so long ago, I am only now intimately acquainted with the experiences of which she spoke. I know now what it is to struggle with God over your child’s well being. And, thank you Jesus, I know now what it is to find that your child is the hands of One who knows and sees and cares and is ABLE.
Sunday morning as I woke up, I remembered the dream from the morning before. David was still breathing evenly beside me. I had joked about Cohen being a guppy and the oddity of the dream the day before, but in the calm Sunday morning light, I started to see it for what it was… a tiny fear that I cannot protect him all the time had blossomed and bloomed into the silly images, as my subconscious tried to find a way to work it out. I laid there for awhile with that thought stirring until the Lord reminded me of the other side of the equation.
Two of the biggest blows in my life have come in August. August 2007 I uncovered something that turned my world upside down. And two summers later in August 2009 I learned that a horrible blow had come to my son’s life. That weeks that followed were a blur of tears and helplessness and fear. I was away overnight to do a training and I was woken early in the morning by a text from Pastor Ricks, encouraging me to read through a portion of the Psalms. I got up and did so. In those early morning hours the Lord broke my heart and allowed what had been pent up behind the flood gates to all come out. I repeated the words of Psalmist, capturing them as my own. At one point the Lord said to me that Cohen would grow strong even in his youth and then the Lord gave me the picture from Psalm 1 of the tree planted by the streams of water, whose leaf never withered and whose every endeavor prospered. I read it aloud again and again, placing my son’s name into the text, believing in my heart that it was all true of my then toddler and his future.
Though fear may want to grip my heart in these next couple of weeks, I have determined to believe God. I am determined to instead let my heart cling to His unfailing words. May God arise and His every enemy be beaten!
Even before I pregnant, David and I had felt strongly about a particular name for a son. The middle name has been a whole other story… the list of could-be middle names is still quite long and very undecided. I was going over them this morning, thinking about their meanings. The first name we’ve chosen means “eagle”. I felt like the Lord was reminding me of Isaiah 40 and naming our child with that picture of overcoming just seems right. When I named Cohen, I just liked the name. Cohen Reid. I fit; it sounded right. David loves the meaning of names and when we were first reconnecting he said something powerful about Cohen’s. Cohen is Hebrew for priest and while Reid actually means “red”, David said that Cohen was a “priest among the reeds”, referring to Moses.
Moses had some wounds, flaws, set backs. He hadn’t been unscathed by life, but he was called of God to be a deliverer to his people. This morning and in the weeks that lie ahead of us, I am nurturing these images of my son…not only is to be solid, unwavering, steady, well fed, prosperous.. but he is also purposed to be a leader and deliverer.
Whether or not my subconscious can work it all out, I know my God is more than able to accomplish all that He has begun.
So thank you God for this rainy Monday that You have breathed life into and for a season to hold fast and believe You. We covet your prayers for our family and our faith as we eagerly await the unfolding of what God has called into being. Thank you, friends