This marks the beginning of an eight-week guest post series on motherhood, loss, and redemption. This week’s guest post is by Catherine McNiel, author of the recently released inspirational non-fiction book, Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline (NavPress, 2017). Check out her book!
“Courage to Take the Coin”
My child finds a nickel forgotten on the ground. He picks it up and with shining eyes tosses it haphazardly into the air. The coin crashes back to the ground and rolls away.
“Heads or tails, mom?” he shouts, racing after it.
There are two sides to every coin. Two sides to every door.
This is different from saying there are two coins, or two doors. This means that every coin has both sides. Every door has coming and going, open and closing.
Life is not like the game show with two doors – good in one, bad in another. Can you pick the best one? A 50/50 chance. All or nothing. No, life has only one door, and we must accept this. We must walk through it.
Joy and pain arrive bundled together. Loss and redemption come to us in one package. There are two sides, but only one coin.
The stories that reach my heart paint the heights of love and light with the depths of loss and darkness. Because truly, this is the only story.
Is there anywhere we see this more powerfully than in motherhood? Each month, life takes root in our bodies – or doesn’t – but we cannot fully dictate the terms. Hope and despair, life and death. These most fundamental essentials take place palpably inside our frames, the drama playing out month after month after month. Others may know in theory that life is brought about through sacrifice, but mothers know it in our bodies. Our physical, emotional, spiritual selves strain and tear bringing life into the world.
The other side of life is death, and there is no escaping this. Every living thing is sustained through the loss of another – and we ourselves will face both sides of this door. Our lives are fleeting and fragile, and there is no escaping this either. Death and life, loss and redemption, all converging into one.
We walk this path, as mothers.
The joys and the sorrows. The life and the loss. The hope and the despair.
As the ancient poet knew, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4).
Grasping the nickel once more, my son hands it to me. “Your turn mom!”
Is there enough courage to take the coin, knowing it has both sides? Not a chance of one or the other, but the certainty of both. There will be a time to die… yet it is time to live. There will be a need to uproot, to tear down…and yet today we must plant and build. We will, without a doubt, weep and mourn.
But today, may we find the courage to laugh and to dance.
Catherine McNiel writes to open eyes to God’s creative, redemptive work in each day. She is the author of Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline (NavPress, 2017). Connect at CatherineMcNiel.com