When I scooped her up, she nuzzled her face in my neck, and I rocked her back to a more pleasant dreamland. As I lingered in the rocker, gazing at her puffed cheeks, my mind slipped back to another November, another rocking chair.
My sister and I were roommates in 1999 when she adopted a five-year-old girl from an impoverished orphanage in Eastern Europe. Of all the images and emotions that linger from the two years I spent with them, it’s the rocking that still tugs at me:
Lilly has no use for the rocking chair,
a twisted wicker gift for a new mom who missed
the crying infant nights, who missed
the baby clinging to her breast as the
sun rose on shattered sleep.
Lilly did not know to miss the
soft motion that massages fears.
Come dusk, Lilly rocks herself,
forth and back, her small body whipping
faster than a mother’s pulse.
Come midnight, Lilly takes to the floor
letting the motion of her body
collapse her sleepless form.
We cannot touch this rocking.
On these nights, she is her own mother
Clinging to the raging in her breast.
Advent started early this year. It’s a season of expectation, of hoping for good things from small forms. Baby Jesus was lucky. He was adored, not just by angels and shepherds, but by a mother who wrapped him tight. A mother who searched desperately when he went missing and stood final vigil at his passing. When it seemed that even the Father withdrew, Mary’s presence must have told him that he was never truly alone. I believe the garden story, that Jesus somehow came to understand the pain of children (of all ages) who rock themselves to sleep. And if he is able to comfort us, we can also thank Mary for comforting him first.