We took Grampie out to dinner last night. E, J and I had a hankering of Thai food so we thought it was worth trying. We wouldn't have tried it a few months ago when Thyrza was still living here. She didn't like anything spicy and claimed that Grampie didn't either. But Beve has always maintained that this is a recent development. Perhaps a projected development, because the dad he grew up with loved spice and hot and was game to try just about anything--as long as there were no olives involved.
So we went off to "On Rice," one of 10 Thai restaurants in town, which we chose not for the quality of food but for its accessibility for wheelchairs. This is our number one criteria for dining these days, though I have a hunch there will be others in the days to come--if in fact, there can even be another restaurant experience again. On Rice, to our great sadness, did not meet certain other unforeseen criteria. Grampie was exceedingly bewildered by the whole experience. I'd begun the meal sitting on the other side of J from him but as he asked me question after question, I leap-frogged over J so I'd be across from him-- which we hoped would calm him...but only increased his ability to voice his confusion. He was perplexed about where the water (we'd be served) would come from from (we surmise that he thought they were flying the water in from Thailand,) to what was on the ceiling (pressed tin tiles), to the age of the waitresses and why they got the jobs, to how to eat the soup (a fork or a spoon and whether dip the salad in the soup), and why he had so many things in front of him. He even wondered if we could just get up and leave after eating, and who would get our money. Yep, we're going to have to think of some other kind of outings, sadly.
At the end of the meal he almost enjoyed his coconut ice-cream-- oh, what a muddle that was! He wasn't happy that he was the only one with a dessert (we were all full!) and was determined to share it, though he was the only one with a spoon. "I'll just lick it off and pass it on," he said. Oh, yum! (He'd also offered to lick off his straw for me earlier even though we both had the same drink) Finally, Beve simply raised his voice to the stern "Daddy voice" he used with our obstinate children to say, "Dad, eat your ice-cream!" and his father calmed down and ate his ice-cream.
Meanwhile, it was the first time since Jackson's death we've left Jamaica home by herself. The first time in her whole life she's been left home alone, actually. It had to happen sometime, will happen plenty the rest of her life. But by the time we got home, our little (to us) Springer Spaniel was frantic. She let us know that it was the most terrifying experience of her life. She jumped at me, put her mouth (gently) around my hand, trembled and wove around our legs, didn't even want to run after tennis balls, presumably afraid we might run off and leave her again while she wasn't looking. Then she burrowed into one lap after another, mine, Beve's, E's, just reminding herself--just reassuring herself--that we were REALLY present, really back and hers and available for whatever she needed us to be. Then she fell asleep, finally secure that we were back, and she was safe. And we decided that she'd probably spent the entire time we were gone sitting straight up in terror pressed against the back of her kennel, her heart pounding.
This morning I was thinking about this. We're so often like Jamaica. There are times when we feel like we've been left all alone in this world--abandoned. Our brains are little pin-heads in proportion to God so when He seems to go away for a bit, we panic. We walk around our lives, trying everything we can to make ourselves feel safe, padding our kennels (so to speak) with things we can control so that we can survive that absence. But we continue to dwell on the emptiness--worry about it. Question it, think about it constantly. Assume the worst. We just don't know all His purposes, we can't possibly see every bit of His plans and His grand design.
He hasn't really left us. That's the reality. He doesn't leave us any more than we left Jamaica last night. He might have work to do that makes it appear that He's not answering us the first moment we ask (and often His silence IS the work most necessary for our growth). But He's always paying attention. Always aware of what's going on with us. Always present.
Then there's the confusion of Grampie and the way it was finally not my constant answering of his questions but Beve's strong, Daddy voice that calmed his confusion--even though that Daddy voice was telling him something different than what he was after. This is exactly what we need from God. His strong Daddy voice, just speaking to us. Sometimes we want certain answers--the specific ONE answer--to our prayers (prayers we usually ask redundantly, just the way Grampie asked me the same question on a loop last night at dinner). But our Father cuts through all of this, slices through it exactly as we ask-- to speak our name. His voice calms our fears. His voice--our Daddy's voice--that's what we need to calm our confusion and give us the peace we need in every situation.
"For He Himself is our peace..." Ephesians 2: 14
"Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you." 2 Thessalonians 3: 16
Wait for it. Trust in it. Even if you don't quite know it, He's coming back for you. He said so.
"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." John 14: 3