In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
This has been a hard year. My husband and I were talking recently about how this might go down in the annuls as the hardest year we’ve had in a long while. Relationship-wise, we’ve been fine, connecting and deepening in our marriage. We’re thankful for that. Stress has been pressing in though- stress about his work, my work, kids’ schools and health- nothing too serious but lots of “nothing too serious” piling up in the corners and on the countertops is bound to cause some stress.
I’m starting to feel as though stress needs its own seat at the dinner table, its own bedroom and bathroom, its own load of laundry. And it’s a lot of laundry.
Miles can’t sleep lately. He watches too many things he should not watch and though we try to restrict those things they still filter through. It’s hard to be the youngest child. He’s probably the least protected while being the most restricted. He sees everyone else doing and watching things and he wants to be a part of it all. Even so, he can’t sleep after he’s watched the video with the jump cut scares in it that his older siblings have seen.
He was laying in bed a few nights ago moaning. It’s been hard year for him too I guess. He moaned there until I came in. By then I was pretty grumpy (see opening paragraphs.) I was harsher with him than I had intended. I almost told him to “get over it” and I almost said that it was his own fault for not taking my advice or going against my wishes. I implied these things without saying them. I grumped and growled and stomped in there a few times. Toward the end I could only say with deep emphasis, “Go. To. Sleep!”
There was some crying then under his covers and a small voice filtering through, “I’m scared.”
On the desk near the door sat an icon of St Michael. It was a gift from a church friend a few weeks earlier. We just had not made time to get it on the wall anywhere and so it sat on the desk, facing the closet. Out of sight out of mind. I picked it up.
“He has a sword.” I said to Miles and he sat up. “St Michael, he has a sword.”
I climbed up into his bed. Though I’m convinced the top bunk isn’t meant to hold the weight of grown ups alongside the kid I climbed into the bed next to him with the icon in my hand. “See?” I said. He looked at it a long time, running his fingers over the smooth surface. “Will you pray?” he asked me. It took me by surprise. He doesn’t usually ask. He held the icon in his hands and I prayed- for peace, for a quieting of bad thoughts, for rest, for protection. I climbed out of the bed carefully and he handed me the icon. “Can you hang it here?” he asked, pointing to a spot on the wall by his bed. I nodded, bone tired and less than excited to seek out a nail and hammer at 10pm after the stress of the day. But I did it, pounding it softly into the wall to keep from waking his brothers. It hung a little crooked at first and Miles straightened it carefully.
“Just think when you’re scared about St Michael,” I said pointing to the icon. “Remember he has a sword. We got it covered here, okay?”
He nodded, threw covers over his head and laid back down. As I lay down a few minutes later I felt the stress of the day creep over me. There was still so much to do and not nearly enough time to work it all out. I made mental notes in my head. I checked my email a few more times and I felt the fear leaking out, reaching through. It’s been a rough year but we’re here, we’re connected and we’re doing what we can in the face of it all. I thought about St Michael then and remembered that he has a sword. We got it covered here.