Yesterday my house was full of family. It was full of adults laughing and talking. It was full of kids running and chasing.. and laughing. In fact, my house was so busy and full.. that at times I couldn’t hear the person standing next to me .. at all. But the noise didn’t bother me. Because even though my house was crowded and loud? It was also full of happiness and love. Everywhere you look? You can see that happiness and love shining… Shining from the eyes of the birthday kids. Shining from the eyes of the adults as they are visiting. Shining from the little toddler throwing a balloon to his dad.
Laughter… Happiness… Food… Cake.. Party games… Treasure Hunts… Sledding.. Babies being passed all around…
When the party ended, we all were so content.. and exhausted.. that we crashed on the couch as soon as the food was taken care of. Leaving the cleaning for later…
This morning, I took my kids to school. When I returned home, I stepped over the baby toys and headed to the kitchen to do my morning clean up. I smiled to myself as I pulled baby spoons and bowls from my dishwasher. I laughed as I threw cups away. Amused to see the silly names and designs written on the sides. (We use Solo cups and sharpies at family parties to keep track of our cups… We tend to use silly made up names instead of our own.) When I sweep the floors, I find lost treat bag treasures and noisy blow outs. And… I usually find a sticky spot on the floor.. where someone spilled something and did a quick clean up job.
When I was satisfied my kitchen was clean, I headed to start my Monday laundry. I filled the washer and then grab the clothes from the dryer.. As I fold the baby burp clothes, I find myself smile again.
But I don’t take care of the burp clothes.. I leave them folded on the dryer.. I will put them away tomorrow. I will put them away right AFTER I pick up the baby toys. Right after, I organize the toy corner in the living room. But I will probably put them away before I take down the crib in my bedroom.
Because it’s the morning after.
The morning after a fun family party is always a little depressing for me. Or the morning after someone comes to visit. The morning after your vacation is over. The morning after a wedding. The morning after a holiday. It’s always the same for me.. The morning after is always sad. My house feels lonely.. and quiet. There is all this evidence left behind of the lively activities we had. Toys and chaos left everywhere. But the only sound is silence.
So that morning after?? I do something that doesn’t involve cleaning up that evidence. I play music to fill the silence.. and do something else. Anything that will keep me busy.
Today I cleaned the chicken coop.
As I chipped away at the frozen … (for polite purposes) “muck”.. I talked to my chickens. They squawked at me as I worked. They followed me through the melting snow drifts as I dumped the muck in the compost pile. And then followed me back again. When I had burned enough calories that I lost a little of the gloom .. the gloom of that morning after feeling… I took a good look at my chickens. They were a little skinnier than last fall… Kind of dirty.. and most of them were missing feathers (thanks to the duck with cabin fever). They have definitely looked better.. and they have definitely looked happier.
Then I realized..
They were having a Morning After too..
You see.. my chickens and ducks have spent the last 8-ish weeks caged up in the sub zero weather. This morning is the first time the doors and gates have been opened wide for their freedom. It is the first morning of 40 and sunshine. For them? For them.. it is the morning after a very bad winter. And even though a couple of them were telling me how bad the winter was.. Yes my chickens talk.. Actually they drawl.. in a very southern accent… While a couple of them were drawling their misery.. the rest were running around enjoying their freedom or basking in that warm (40 degree) sunshine.
I know how they feel.. That morning after a traumatic event. The morning after a bad winter. The morning after an illness. The morning after your special needs child has a bad day (or week). The morning after your daughter has her tonsils out.. or your son has emergency surgery to put screws in his hips.. or you break your arm. The morning after you crash your car. Or the morning after a funeral. I have felt this feeling more than a few times in my life… and I imagine I will be feeling it again in June.. when I put my adopted daughter (my exchange student) on a plane home to Egypt. That next morning.. Yup.. it will be a hard morning after.
Everyone deals with these Morning After emotions differently. Some people are like my chickens. They need to talk through their feelings to anyone who will listen. Knowing that no one can fix their emotions.. but just needing to be heard. Others need to be still.. Be still and bask in the sunlight. Bask in the sunlight of God’s love.. God’s promise that spring will come.. and with it Hope.
I am like that 3rd chicken. I need to move. I need to do anything that will keep my hands busy and my mind busy. Because that morning after?? That morning after my emotions are too strong for me to deal with. Too strong to breathe through.. And I am missing WAY too many feathers. So that morning after? I just breathe.. Breathe and move. Knowing that as soon as I focus on my Yesterday? As soon as I do.. I will cry.
Sometimes.. sometimes I can’t move fast enough and I am forced to deal with my emotions when they are still strong. That’s when I crash..
Then I started thinking..
The morning after Jesus was crucified.. the Bible does not tell us how Mary Magdalene dealt with her trauma.. It does not tell us how she dealt with all the emotions she felt at watching her teacher.. her friend.. hung on a cross. It does not tell us how she dealt with her sorrow at watching a close friend die. It does not tell us how she spent that morning after. But it does tell us what she didn’t do. She did not go to the tomb where Jesus was laid.
Now I understand that the morning after Jesus died for us on the cross .. it was a Sabbath. The Jewish custom was to rest on the Sabbath.. So Mary was not allowed to do any work.. she was not allowed to go to the tomb with her oils and spices. But still I wonder… How would Mary have spent that morning after if it hadn’t been the Sabbath Day? What would she have done? Would she have gone to the tomb that next morning? Would she have stayed with her sister? Stayed and talked through her hurt? Or would she have been Still? Would she have been Still and basked in God’s Love for comfort?
We will never know really.
But what we do know? We know that when Mary Magdalene went to that tomb .. she found the stone rolled away. She found that tomb empty. Jesus was alive again.. JUST as God had promised.
So in truth.. Mary went to the tomb and found Hope. Hope for her future.
When I go to my tomb? When I deal with the source of my emotions? I do not expect to find a resurrection of my guests returning. I do not expect to find a resurrection of my sorrows. When I go to my tomb and deal with my emotions.. I always find hope.
That same hope that Mary found?
Not exactly. The hope of seeing my family again soon does not compare to seeing one of God’s promises. The hope of laughing with friends again does NOT compare with seeing the Holy Jesus coming back to life after a gruesome death. The hope of holding a baby again soon .. it doesn’t compare with the promise of going to Heaven.
What about the morning after sadness? How do I find Hope there? When hope seems to disappear.. like a cloud blocking out the sun?
Hope is still there.. It is on the other side of your emotions.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:4
So those screws in my son’s hips? They will be beautiful in their time.. God let those screws be needed in my son’s bone FOR a reason. So my son’s bad week? It will be beautiful in its time. Saying good-bye to my Egyptian daughter? Yes.. that too will be beautiful in its time. God has a reason He lets all of these things happen… And when we see those reasons? I think it WILL be beautiful. When we see the Beauty behind the reason these “hard” things happen? That’s when we see the Promise that God gives us.
For me? For me I see the Hope. When I have let the waves of emotions wash through me? When I have let go of the sadness of missing family.. when I recover from the let-down after a fun time.. when I have cried enough tears to dull the pain of missing a loved one who has gone to Heaven? Then I look for the Hope.
If Every thing is beautiful in its time… then that means that something good will come from every hard time.. (and every good time). There is a reason for everything… so everything carries the God’s promise of Hope..
And once I feel that Hope?
Then I can take care of those burp rags. Then I can put away the toys and the crib. And just like those chickens.. Yup.. I can start to grow back my missing feathers.