I felt like I was watching the birth of a metaphor. It was familiar, haunting, and in the end, one knows the ending before it begin. A young mother was distracted. Given the chaos, I had a hard time believing that she could juggle the competing forces while still paying attention to the task at hand. I counted five or six distractions, with two at the center. She needed to complete a transaction. Her son required her attention. As the moment reached a peak – a request to review a bill, provide a signature, acknowledge transaction closure, her young son was trying to be heard. While I could not see the cause, he was visibly and audibly distressed!
Every parent has experienced this at one time or another. Everything is real. Nothing can be ignored. There are no obvious answers. Very few can help which translates into a scene where those watching are powerless.
As I watched the scene unplay, everything slowed. I could see the mother’s facial expressions change as her focused moved from point to point. The child’s distress seemed to be driven by uncertainty and fear more than pain. As his mom laid down her pen, said thank-you and turned, the moment seemed to freeze. I knew he knew he had her full attention. She was present in a way that nothing was missing. I wondered what she would say or do.
In the silence of that instance, her eyes were filled with a look of compassion. She reached down, embraced her son with an enveloping hug, and let him go.
You could feel fear leaving. His demeanor went from anxiety to calmness. His eyes said that he was deep in thought. When I looked back we were in a different place. As the boy smiled, and did a little jig for anyone willing to watch, my imagination heard his words to his mom; “I’m leaping and singing in the circle of your love; you saw my pain, you disarmed my tormentors,” (Psalm 31.7) The sweetest dance comes from the depths of our lament.