The sun had yet to rise on your day when you spilled your heart into Ann Voskamp’s comment box. You were comment number 8.
Your words, written on the front edge of dawn, reached my eyes when noonday sun illuminated Iowa.
We had both walked through the door of Ann’s comment box, which is openly only now and then. We stopped there just in time and long enough to share a bit about finding grace in hard and hidden places.
On that day, Ann announced a book giveaway for Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places written by the gifted L.L. Barkat. A random drawing would determine who would get the book.
Thirsty for grace, you were. Me, too. Our thirst found us both there, in Ann’s comment box, eight hours apart.
When I dropped by, Elizabeth, your pain stopped me. Tears tumble as I recall the words you wrote, and the words you didn’t write.
You wrote: “Please include me – I would love this book. I just am hurting to much at this time to comment beyond this… “
Number 8, why were you awake so early? Did the pain wake you? Or maybe you always wake before the dawn …
Meanwhile, at 5:10 a.m., I rested peacefully as Earth spun on its axis.
Eight hours passed. That’s when I met you in a comment box. I am Jennifer, number 38. I was 30 comments away, and eight hours late, but closer to you than you know.
I know what it means to long for inclusion, to cry out: “Please include me ….”
Elizabeth, maybe your words — “Please include me” — were really just about the book drawing. But maybe your words asked for something more.
We weren’t meant to do this alone, you know. I think you do know. Perhaps that is why you tapped out 21 words — a string of 82 letters reaching toward the Giver of Grace and “Christ’s Love-Body,” as Ann calls it.
We all want to belong. Since the time we enter the world — gasping for our first breath — we want to belong. With reckless arms reaching for the sound of our mother, we cry out: “Please include me.”
We enter the elementary playground, and find that we’ve been picked last for the kickball team. Or perhaps we find ourselves alone by the swingset, when whispering girls circle up on the merry-go-round. We call out: “Please include me!”
Then we grow into womanhood, and drop back in the shadows as the light shines on the talented and pretty ones. We whisper: “Please include me.”
“Please include me …” you wrote.
I sat on my back deck tonight, Bible open, listening for God, praying for you.
I heard the bellowing of cattle, the raspy cry of the pheasant. I watched the sun go down over my church on the western horizon. On the edge of dusk, I opened the Gospels to John 11:41.
A Word for you:
“Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me…”
He hears you and me, Elizabeth. Even when we can’t hear Him, He hears us. And He knows our names.
You, number 8, Elizabeth.
And I, number 38, Jennifer.
Here, in the grip of His grace, we are included.
Photo: God’s grace breaking through humanity’s broken soil in my backyard — creeping up between the hard places.