This working-from-home-with-your-husband thing is rife with both blessings and challenges. We enjoy the chance to eat lunch together, to discuss household “administration” when necessary, to schedule appointments around each other’s plans.
But our work styles are vastly different. The minute the kids are on the bus, I’m clearing my desk, laying out binders, lighting my “writing candles” (I cannot summon all my available productivity unless the ambiance is just right) and getting down to it. Sometimes this happens before I’ve even had my first cup of coffee.
Matt, on the other hand, likes to ramp up slowly. There is coffee, and some MSNBC, and a little breakfast at the table while he peruses the headlines, or sends messages to some friends. He does this after taking the kids to school on certain days of the week (a mighty blessing to me whose arthritis mutinies before 10:30 a.m.).
This morning, after these rituals, Matt came into my office.
I didn’t turn my back but, as I am adept at doing, continued to type while talking, thinking (a) the bed is already made, (b) the kids are gone so it’s finally quiet enough to work, and (c) if I live to be 102 I still won’t get everything done that needs to be done. Then they will have to dig me up and sit me right back at my computer.
“Can’t. Too much to do.”
He was undeterred.
“Listen, the kids are out of the house very rarely, and when summer comes, they’ll be here all the time. I know you’re stressed. Let me pet your head.”
This, I love more than just about anything. I blame “Little Women.” Therein, the sisters remark about how nice it is to have their hair petted. My Grannie did the same to me when I was young, and I do it for Grace. And Matt does it for me. When I can extricate myself from my work.
He was grinning with his arms open.
“Fine,” I snorted.
He grabbed me in that bear embrace of his and wrapped those athlete’s arms around me, making me feel small, which I love. Especially when I’m still grief-eating and I can’t fit into my regular jeans. He ran his fingers through my hair, and must have felt me exhale, because he laughed.
“This is your kryptonite! You’re not stressed anymore!”
And I wasn’t. As long as my mind stayed in the moment. As long as it was obedient to a concept my father recently mentioned to me: that of the “eternal now.”
A book by theologian Paul Tillich in 1963 by the same title explored this concept. Tillich wrote:
“‘I am the beginning and the end.’” This is said to us who live in the bondage of time, who have to face the end, who cannot escape the past, who need a present to stand upon. Each of the modes of time has its peculiar mystery, each of them carries its peculiar anxiety. Each of them drives us to an ultimate question. There is one answer to these questions — the eternal. There is one power that surpasses the all-consuming power of time — the eternal: He Who was and is and is to come, the beginning and the end. He gives us forgiveness for what has passed. He gives us courage for what is to come. He gives us rest in His eternal Presence.”
God, who understands my fears and my ever-growing list of “must do’s;” who knows tomorrow will be imbued with its own worries in a meeting with Noah’s new special education coordinator, and later, with his neurologist, and subsequently, with his teacher who has told us she can “no longer control him,” that same God who understands also gave us that moment.
I chose, despite the worries of tomorrow and the mistakes of yesterday, to be present in the now; to mirror, as best I could, God’s presence as much in that minute as it had appeared before it, and would, thereafter.
It was a respite, that “eternal now.” We were fully present.
And all it required was five minutes of cuddling.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” Revelation 21:6