He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40.
A few months ago, I met a family in ER. The family had been in an accident that could have been tragic, but wasn’t. However, mom was in one room being checked on, dad was in another, a sister was in another, and the three-year-old boy was scared. Mom was still wearing a collar, so he couldn’t be in her room. His attempts to cling would have been potentially dangerous. So he was with dad, who needed to be examined.
And so this chaplain took the boy from a nurse. I stood and started the swaying rocking that parents learn with infants and never forget. I started the almost tuneless humming that creates a quiet contrast to sobs.
There was no place for reasoning, there was no place for calm discussion. There was simply the need to hold him.
It took a long time. But he quieted enough to fall asleep. I kept holding him until family reinforcements arrived.
That’s the image at the end of the reading for the Second Sunday of Advent, the portion of Isaiah 40 above. The image of a shepherd caring for sheep, holding bleating lambs to his heart. When we distill down the weeks of Advent to single words, the word for this week is PEACE.
And as we think about the story of me holding the little boy, and of the shepherd holding the lamb, I want to point to this truth:
Sometimes God’s peace comes in moments of panic when we are simply embraced by him.
For a 3-year-old, being on a vacation trip, being in an accident, being unable to cling to his parents, being in an ER a panicking time! For an adult, being in the ER while losing his Father can be a panicking time, too. And a breath at a time, with an embrace coming inexplicably inside, or from a person standing near, we often find an unreasonable peace.
Not that removes the cause of the pain, but that sustains us, a breath at a time.