Echoes of David

by Nicole Austin
For years I have been summoned from sleep mid-dream
to tend to imaginary monsters and soaked sheets,
to stroke sweaty heads and whisper soft prayers for sweet slumber
before crawling back to bed myself.
I have held a weeping toddler after a stubbed toe
and a heartbroken schoolgirl after a friend’s betrayal.
I know what it is to soothe,
to tend to one longing for comfort and seeking rest.
In David’s psalms I hear a child,
reaching out with words instead of sticky palms,
consumed by fear and drowning in doubt.
His words are messy and ragged, bubbling over like volcanic ash,
emotions fierce as flint, brutal as a gut punch,
harrowing as a tightrope walk over a bottomless canyon,
and I recognize the ache.

In summer my daughters’ squeals proliferate,
delighting in the fiery tendrils of a sparkler,
or rejoicing over a perfect dandelion,
discovered and released in downy wishes cast into the breeze.
My son explodes with excitement at the same stanza of a favorite song, every time.
And I hear echoes of David again, this time rejoicing,
blossoming with praise,
reverberating with joy like hummingbird wings.
Celebrating every good thing over and over, his peace is resounding,
billowing above the storm of life like a parachute of clouds.
In the deep he knows safety; in the gulch, contentment.

But somewhere in the muddle of adulthood
I have lost both the joy and pain of a child,
and David haunts me as I confront my own anemic heart.
The psalms I weave are too often grown-up nonsense, air kisses and pleasantries,
the checking off of a list, a duty performed.
I am eviscerated by my own shallow devotion,
an intimacy of convenience and routine, neat and tidy.
And so I pray, make me a child again, help me recapture a heart like David.
Lord, find the creases in my soul and fill them,
seek me where I hide and strip away my false maturity and my excuses.
Unfold me and enfold me,
tender and ferocious as a mother calming a newborn soul.
Help me to call upon You full-throated, in joy and pain,
to claim the beautiful inheritance and delight in every blessing.