The two older boys were at a soccer tournament. And it was just he and I, gathering a small puddle of blankets on the couch. He watching and me listening, wondering what the day might bring us. I had work to do. A project that has been stretching and growing, amassing large quantities of cut petals and green stems.
But I was happy for this quiet, for this space, for his small head to rest on my lap. He has been bruised, this small one. His week, made up of fever and rejection, missed steps and wrong words. In his six years of growing, he has planted worry in my heart. There is this sensitive place where a lock has been hanging on the tiny doors of his heart. A place that holds all his hurts and sometimes this lock breaks open, wildly, recklessly. And the world around him shuts down and it is all I can do to watch and hope for this place to grow softer, for the lock to loosen.
And this mama heart, this place that holds all of his tiny fractured pieces, collecting all of his wounds and storing them, naming them, numbering them. This mama heart hurts too. I wish I could grow small again, climb into my six year old shoes and hold his hand, be the one to walk with him, forgive him when he stumbles on his words.
The sun peaked out from behind the gray clouds and he lifted his head.
"Tell me the story of the bottle."
It was almost a month earlier, as I walked on the beach with a friend, that I came across the brown bottle lying on it's side. I could see two pieces of colored paper rolled up inside. And I knew in that moment that something sacred and holy had been delivered onto the shore. It seemed almost impossible, something conjured up as a narrative thread in some movie, yet here it was, a message, lost and then found.
He asked if we could go back to the beach so he could see just where it was I had found it. I nodded yes.
And we braved the cold wind and the gray skies for a chance to find a secret message, something sacred and holy.
And he didn't want to be seen. He remained hidden and small and I watched from a distance. Because some things you just can't fix. All you can do is sit in the dark with someone and wait for the light to come.
And I laid the bottle on it's side and covered it with sand.
And I thought about the moment this bottle left the hand of it's creator and entered the water, the waves pushing it, crashing over the glass, tumbling on it's journey. This bottle, these words, are an offering, a heart waiting for someone to open it up. A small voice waiting to be set free.
And as I watched him, my heart longed to make it all better. But his small heart was journeying alone, the consequences, the waves, had to be felt and all I could do was just hold the bottle and gently lift the lid.
And set the small voice free.
And when the bottle is opened, when the voice is given the space to find the light, and it asks for an ear to listen, a hand to hold, for arms to wrap around it and keep it safe, there is always this tug, this possibility that someone can say no. That someone can close the bottle and send it back out into the sea.
And sometimes this voice is spoken in a language no one else can hear. This love spoken with bent lines and broken hearts, this love will remain a question to be answered, a voice waiting to be heard. A bottle waiting to find it's shore.
But it's this story inside the heart that will always rise to the top and make it's way back to the shore again, this journey endured, the cold waves, the bitter winds, all so that this love can set it free.
So the voice kept locked inside the small heart will know it is never alone,
And it is not so small after all.