My dear Cambridge Community,
When I received Deborah’s text about a gift for Nora (that HAD to be delivered before December 1st) I must admit I was quite curious! Curiosity evolved into eager anticipation on a Saturday morning as Deborah and her family, arrived at our home. I was so excited to see them, I greeted them on the front lawn. As we were sharing hellos Deborah said something about unloading the gifts – as she gestured to the back of her car.
It was full. I froze. I’m sorry, what?
I watched as 3 giant boxes were unloaded into our living room; those 3 boxes gave way to a collection of smaller boxes, all equal in size. Each small box was adorned with a silk bow and a little white tag specifying the day it was to be opened.
It was just past Thanksgiving but it felt like Christmas morning.
I looked at Tyler as he arranged the boxes.
Throughout my time at Cambridge, Tyler was witness to the cards, flowers, gifts, Thai food leftovers, and of course baked goods from the Cambridge families. He was blown away by Deborah, Esther and Colleen and the absolutely enchanting baby shower they put on, and families from school who filled our living room with baby clothes, toys, gear and beautiful cards. Tyler’s typical response to these gifts was something like this:
“Stuff like this doesn’t happen, they must really love you.”
I would always counter with, no, they just really love.
Tyler continued to arrange the boxes; I began to suspect he was too overcome to catch my eye.
Deborah handed me an envelope, the front said “A gift for Nora, Days of December”.
“This explains it all.” She said
Later Tyler and I opened the card together:
I have to tell you dear friends, my heart was bursting. I paced around the room looking at the boxes, then at Tyler. We would stare at each other and almost at the same instant exclaimed, “Are you kidding me???” As we jumped around the room in a fit of pre-Christmas euphoria, I tried to explain to Tyler what I was feeling. It was hard to completely capture in words.
I knew I felt loved, unbelievably loved. But the word that surfaced was remembered.
I felt remembered.
Although we have received so much loving and prayerful support over the last few months, we felt and sometimes feel loneliness and isolation… Even well-meaning, and heartfelt words can build the, now familiar, isolation walls. “Wow, I couldn’t imagine….”, (yes, you can imagine) “ I don’t know how you do it…”(just like you would do it – like any parent would do it). Even just the desolate silence or the big bulging eyes of sympathy create a void between us and the world.
I’ll be honest and tell you that pre December brought us to a place where we were slowly crawling out of crisis mode, and trying to orient ourselves on our journey: we were taking pause and examining the contents of our emotional and spiritual suitcases – the very ones we’d been cramming our hurts into for the past months. Friends, pre December found us in the desert. Like a cactus filled, soul sucking, sun blazing desert. But if I have learned anything about the desert it is this:
There you will find angels.
My dad and I were chatting one night about the story of Jesus in the wilderness. He said, “Jesus lived there in the tension between human fleshy darkness and heavenly light. Completely man and wholly divine. He felt it, all of it. The loneliness, the darkness as well as heavenly grace and hands of the angels. It’s similar to your situation Jesse. You are bound by the physicality of our humanness – we all are, and with that comes wilderness, loneliness and our own temptations, but you are also in many ways experiencing the light of God’s grace, and in some ways, heaven has never been closer.”
I can tell you friends, on that morning, when I sat in front of 31 delicately bowed boxes, heaven never felt closer. It was the type of heaven that finds you just as you are about to fall face down in the desert sand. It’s a quiet whisper that says, “ I see you, I remember you, I love you.”
The next 31 days were filled with hopeful scripture, encouraging words, and beautiful ornaments for one special baby girl. Each day of December we were attended by our Cambridge angels. Our hearts were guarded by the loving and tender gifts and words each of you gave and wrote. Thank you for your lovely gifts and touching words; each gift brought tangible picture of God’s great love and grace. We are forever thankful and we will cherish your gifts year after year as we grow old with your loving words and precious ornaments.
With all our love,
Jesse, Tyler and baby Nora
Photo credit: Jessica Rice Photography