Friday, July 19, 2013

We've got tonight

I woke this morning
much too early,
to an eager little boy
wanting to eat.
And like I do most mornings,
I stumbled back to bed with him
to nurse.
As he finished,
I hoped he fall back to sleep,
but he didn't.

Through sleep slanted eyes,
I put him in his high chair,
and scattered cheerios on the tray.
When the Planter Guy said:
I had bad news this morning.

An email from Romania,
and a boy we'd worked with was dead.

(His name was George (george-ay).)

Swimming in the Danube with his brother and uncle,
He'd come to a point where he just couldn't tread water anymore,
and called for help.
His brother went to rescue him,
grabbed him,
but couldn't hold on.
And so the current of the Danube did.

They still haven't found George's body.

(His brother's name is Elvis.)

We didn't see George and Elvis when we visited in May.
Neither of them attend the drop-in center where we worked anymore.
We heard Elvis was stealing to make a living.
George was living with his girlfriend; married, the Roma call it.

In May, when I heard this news about how the brothers were living, my heart sank.
These boys had come to the center for years and years,
and my response,
in my sunken, broken heart,
my cry,
was: what the hell, God?

Knowing that the culture of a family and a people
can be stronger than any amount of years
spent at a drop-in center.
And that the culture and cycle and pull and fear of poverty
can be stronger than the years of meals and tutoring and showers and friendship.
The brokenness of poverty exchanged for the brokenness of stealing.
One brokenness for another brokenness.

There is much to say about brokenness at the end of this week,
when we've learned the fate of a man who killed a child.

(The child's name was Trayvon Martin).

I'm not attempting to make any political statements,
and I don't pretend to understand the justice system in the United States,
all I know is
a child is dead,
a mother lost her son.
to a system of fear and prejudice and violence called brokenness
that no court can ever replace.

And this week, too,
the sad passing of a young, talented addict.

(His name was Cory Monteith).

I saw him sing
'We've got tonight',
and my heart...
oh my heart
was swept into a deadly current of ache.

The brokenness of life exchanged for the brokenness of addiction.
All that torments and haunts and skirts around the edges of our aching bulging hearts that can hardly hold anymore that this world has to offer,
trying to fix fear and pain and poverty and prejudice and racial profiling and death with just more brokenness. .

And I've been singing that song all. day. long,
We've got Tonight,
While holding that ache of all that's broken,
and holding my Sophie-girl,
trying to reconcile that oh-so-sweet-tender-ache of her little life with this enormous ache of brokenness.

The girl who just looked at me,
pulled her pacifier out of her mouth,
covered her mouth to cough,
and then put the pacifier back in to resume playing.

She likes to lay in the grass and gaze at the sky.
seriously, she does.
It's almost unreal how she knows to put her arms behind her back and cross her legs and just look at the deep blue.
Once in awhile she points and says: sun!

She likes playing with her shadow.
Really, she does.
she talks to it, doesn't hear me come into the room she's so engrossed in conversation with it.
When I say I'm sorry to her, she puts her hand on my shoulder and says: it's okay, mama.

She's only two.
I'm telling you this girl is good...
she puts trash in the trash
and dirty clothes in the dirty clothes hamper
without being asked.

She's broken.

I'm whirling in all of this today,
thinking about how we'd
rather exchange one brokenness for another brokenness
rather than just ache with what makes us broken...
because what if we're swept up in an ache that takes hold
and never lets go
and our bodies are never found?

Today i'm wondering
if the ache
is part of our glory.
And to sit in it
is a glory,
a privilege,
of living.
I think someone once wrote: The Weight of Glory.

(His name was C.S. Lewis).

I'm not going to quote him.
Instead, I'm going to quote (stay with me) Bob Seger:

I know it's late, I know you're weary 
I know your plans don't include me 
Still here we are, both of us lonely 
Longing for shelter from all that we see 
Why should we worry, no one will care, girl 
Look at the stars so far away 
We've got tonight, who needs tomorrow? 
We've got tonight babe 
Why don' you stay? 

Deep in my soul, I've been so lonely 
All of my hopes, fading away 
I've longed for love, like everyone else does 
I know I'll keep searching, even after today 
So there it is girl, I've said it all now 
And here we are babe, what do you say? 
We've got tonight, who needs tomorrow? 
We've got tonight babe 
Why don't you stay? 

I know it's late, I know you're weary 
I know your plans don't include me 
Still here we are, both of us lonely 
Both of us lonely 

We've got tonight, who needs tomorrow? 
Let's make it last, let's find a way 
Turn out the light, come take my hand now 
We've got tonight babe 
Why don't you stay? 
Why don't you stay?

I'm sure what I'm about to say,
could be dissected a thousand ways,
and all kinds of wrong could be found in it.


What if,
we gave into the ache,
for one night?
What if He,
(His name is Jesus),

I know it's late, I know you're weary 
I know your plans don't include me 
Still here we are...We've got tonight,

Why don't you stay? 

And. What if He said:

Deep in (your) soul, (you've) been so lonely 
All of (your) hopes, fading away 
(You've) longed for love, like everyone else does...

We've got tonight,
Why don't you stay? 

If you're still reading,
maybe you're rolling your eyes...
All I'm saying is:
if for one night,
or day
or hour
or week
or month
or year
we were present to our ache,
to our brokenness,
we might know the weight of our glory,
of living,
of laying in the grass and gazing at the sky 
and we'd point and say:
Because for the first time
we would truly see
and be seen
and the Light would expose 
and we'd be fragile and need to be held carefully.
But instead of being swept into a current of only more brokenness,
we'd be held solid in peace.

And poverty wouldn't end in theivery.
And prujuidice wouldn't end in murder.
And pain wouldn't end in addiction.
And death? Oh death, where is your sting?

It's coming
that night
that day
that life.

But this night,
this day,
I stay
in this
and hold my girl,
and all the good this Life has brought.
(His name is Jesus).
And grieve George,
who I knew,
and those others,
who I didn't know
and hope that as I'm present in the pain
I also become more present to the glory,
Laying back in the grass,
pointing to the Light.

This post is dedicated to Emily Wierenga, who was present in brokenness.

And, I lie: 
From The Weight of Glory:

“At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.” 


  1. oh, dear. Part of me hoped I wouldnt know the child you were talking about. But I do. I am grieving with you guys and Elvis and their family.

  2. oh friend. this is just so breathtakingly beautiful... haunting... i hope you linked it up to imperfect prose this week on the blog so others can read it... it deserves to be read by everyone. love you. thank you.

  3. April,

    Nice to meet you. I'm hopping over from Emily's IP link up. I could hear your heart for Romania and for the Roma gypsies, and for teens you had worked with in the past. I'm so sorry for the death of George, and Trevon...

    We know children who have been adopted from Romania, Ukraine, and Russia. The children they know from back there still linger in their minds too, and the desire to save them all, rescue them all is high.

    Jennifer Dougan

    1. Jennifer:
      Nice to meet you! And thanks for your words...sometimes what we love haunts us.