It's that last thirty minutes before the final dash.
Husband returns to the parsonage from next door where he's turned on the air conditioning and read over his sermon, so I slip away to the bedroom to pull on fancy clothes, she calls them. Mama, what fancy clothes are you going to wear today?
And I pretend to be coy and say, Oh, you'll see!, toss it over my shoulder as the door breezes shut behind me, but really the last two hours have just caught up to me and I think I need a few moments to myself before entering into worship.
For the stacked cereal bowls had toppled, leaving soggy granola bits all over the dining room carpet. Big boys had needed reminders to smooth cowlicks, and even still, second-born's unruly cowlick hovers over his song list at the table as he makes some last minute changes. Ties wouldn't tie, the communion bread turned out too dry, and I'd snapped when the braids I'd plaited into her long golden waves had been ruined in a flash by a tackle from Little Man. Tears, and we've just begun the day.
I pull on a skirt, then try two different blouses, tossing the rejected onto the bed. Dig around a little underneath, finding only one lonely shoe of the pair I was seeking. Pull out curlers as I dash to the bathroom, and I know I've heard at least three small-fisted knocks at the door since entering only minutes before.
I pause and place a hand over my racing heart. Lord, what good is it to lie in bed before rising and pray over a day, only to be overtaken by it so soon?
But now she's given up on tapping at the bedroom door and moved around to the outside of this one. It's her time, and she knows it. I know it. I turn the knob and she stands there in fancy clothes, eyes still red-rimmed from little brother's tackle, and I smile her into my space.
We move in our Sunday rhythm. We speak our Sunday words.
You look beautiful, Eliana! What glory you will bring to the Lord today as you sing praises to him. She smiles and clambers atop the toilet lid to open the mirrored cabinet. Her fingers glide over the bottles of perfume and come to rest on her favorite, Chantilly Lace. We set it aside. My racing heart beings to slow.
Mama, I love your curls! Daddy will sure like to look at you when he's standing up front. We share the blush brush, and she slowly applies the lightest of pinks to her cheekbones, just the way I taught her. Mesmerized, she watches me in the mirror as I brush on mascara; she's so close, I can smell her sweet breath on my shoulder. I take a deep one of my own and begin to sing.
Nor for ease that prayer shall be,
But for strength, that we may ever
Live our lives courageously.
It's on the second line that she joins in, and we two, there in that cozy, stuffy space, we sing out our prayer over spilt milk, pulled braids, unruly cowlicks. Heartbeat rests.
She holds out her hands, wrists together, and Chantilly Lace mists over them. She giggles, as always, and rubs her wrists behind her ears and at the base of her throat, just the way I've taught her.
And when she skips away, and I turn once more to the mirror, there's a smile there. And peace.
I find two shoes that match and step out in Sunday Rhythm.
And my heart has caught right on up.