I don’t see the mouth of the volcano behind me, nor do I remember the eruptible lava within me.
The clock ticks. The morning pace frenzies. And between cutting off bread crusts, and the spelling review, and the search for the missing sock, these tectonic, volcanic plates within me diverge.
Unchecked, I erupt. With little warning, I spew lava and poison tones. I leave a home under mounds of ash and pumice — this little Pompeii here on an Iowa farm. Wasn’t it just a moment ago that I delivered the peaceful wake-up call?
Somewhere between the rousing of sleepy girls and the harried steps to the back door — I lost it. Words rose up, burning the throat and letting go — covering wee ones in ash and lava.
“Shoes on, girls! Come on, come on!” And the lava rose.
She’s crying because she doesn’t want to wear the charcoal-colored coat. She wants the pink one instead, because the “gray one is ugly.” Someone can’t find their folder … The bus is almost here!
I back the van out of the garage, and then she tells me she’s forgotten her bear. It’s “Letter ‘B’ Day” at school, and she needs that bear! I heave one last exaggerated sigh, stop the van and run back inside. Hands of this bristling mama grab soft yellow bear paws, and I run back outside.
I look in the rear-view mirror at reticent faces … and I know they know it, too:
I blew it.
Would it have been the end of the world if we’d missed the bus? Was it worth the ash I left them in?
The bus is late. I see it slowing to pick up kids a quarter-mile up the road. There’s still time to pray, to ask them and Him for forgiveness.
I had shown them how little I was made of — this volcanic flesh erupting in me.
And now I had a chance to show them how much I’m made of — not I, but Christ that is within me. He’s given me this grace of time and space to blow the ashes off this mess.
They drop to their knees behind me, and I reach a hand into the back seat to join the jumble of 20 little fingers.
“Can I start this time?” I ask them.
“Dear God, This mommy is sorry. I didn’t need to yell.”
I beg Him for forgiveness … and I beg them, too. They open their eyes, and throw arms around my neck.
“We forgive you, Mommy,” the oldest one says says. And the lava cools in this Grace Embrace. New heat rises, springing from tear ducts, running a warm-river reminder down my cheeks: I have been forgiven.