“Simon’s up the stairs!” is the current war cry of our house. It first started a few weeks ago on a night when my family and I were caught in a rainstorm. The skies opened right at school pickup time. So, my husband, Kyle, and I trudged out with umbrellas to pick up Susannah (3 ½) and Simon (10 months) from daycare. Yet even with 2 umbrellas, we got completely soaked. That’s not actually true: 2 family members made it home dry: Simon and Minnie Mouse. The rest of us sacrificed to keep the baby and mouse dry.
As we rushed into the house, I put Simon down to crawl on the floor while I pulled off Susannah’s dripping wet clothes. Kyle went back out into the fray to grab the backpacks from the car. 20 seconds later, I looked up and screamed out: Where’s Simon?!
Susannah and I ran in different directions. I ran through all the downstairs rooms in a panic. But Susannah went right to where he was. “SIMON’S UP THE STAIRS!” she called. I ran to where she was yelling and pointing, but I didn’t see him. I ran up the stairs, passed the first landing. No Simon. Up the second part. No Simon. Passed the 2nd landing. No Simon. To the top. There, I found him at the very top of the stairs smiling, giggling, and mighty proud of himself.
I picked him up and let out a breath. I hadn’t breathed for a whole minute at least. Simon was safe. Breath. All was well. Breath. He could’ve been really hurt. Breath. But he wasn’t. Breath. All was well. Deep Breath.
This entire year has felt like this one scary moment, repeated over and over and over again. Right in the middle of our already chaotic lives, something scary happens that sends us running and left to figure out a new way to function. Another crisis hits, and we immediately respond. We climb the stairs in fear that it won’t be okay and in hopes that we’ll make it safely to the top.
Sometimes when we’re winded from climbing through another crisis, we harken back to the pre-COVID days when things were “easier.” Kyle and I love to jokingly reminisce back to Leap Day weekend 2020. It was a week filled with joy and sadness: I had been back from maternity leave for two weeks, Lent began, and our church celebrated a beautiful wedding within our church family. Then on Friday, I received a call that one of our beloved church members passed away. On Saturday, we received a call that my husband’s grandmother passed away. But that wasn’t enough, apparently. Our daughter, who had who had been potty trained for six months, had several accidents that weekend, which produced a terrible rash, sending her to the doctor. (We didn’t know it at the time, but it would begin what we call now the Poop Pandemic of 2020 – more on that in an upcoming blog post). THEN just after dinner on Sunday night, we looked at our son’s eyes. They were red and goopy – PINK EYE! As I got into the car to take Simon to the pediatric urgent care, Kyle said “Well what else could happen?”
It was March 1.
We didn’t know it then, but we hadn’t even yet climbed the stairs. We were still stuck in the rainstorm – the crisis hadn’t even begun.
It’s almost hard to remember how many times in the last seven months we’ve climbed the stairs in fear and uncertainty. Worldwide pandemic. Climb. Everything closed. Climb. Online worship. Climb. Working from home. Climb. Daycare closed. Climb. Full-time Pastor, full-time Parent. Climb. Isolated from family and friends. Climb. Vacation, birthdays, baptism, and celebrations canceled. Climb. Hospitalizations and deaths for which I could not be present. Climb. Wearing a mask everywhere. Climb. Sanitizing everything. Climb. Sleep regressions. Climb. Tantrums. Climb. Coughs. Climb. COVID Tests. Climb. Negative results. Breathe. Safely sending kids to daycare. Climb. Safely re-opening church? Climb. 210,000 beloved people lost. Climb. Racial Injustice. Climb. Jobs and businesses lost. Climb. Virtual, Hybrid, and In-person School. Climb. Presidential Election. Climb. Death of RBG. Climb. Wildfires. Climb. Hurricanes. Climb. Every single news day in October. Climb. Accidentally putting my hand through a window. Climb. 24 stitches. Climb. Surgery. Climb. Physical Therapy. Climb. Not being able to use my right hand for over a month and counting. Climb.
“Well what else could happen?” … It’s only October 10th after all…
So breathe, friends. Breathe again. Release your shoulders from your ears and take another breath.
That list is overwhelming, and I’m sure I left out some important things. Still, look back at that list. Add your own personal climbs. Look at what we’ve made it through. Look at what we’ve overcome. Each one difficult, but we’ve survived each one. We’ve climbed in panic and fear. Yet, at the top and along the way, we’ve found hope and joy and laughter (because how can you not laugh at all of this?)
We may be climbing in panic, but with each flight we’re gaining resilience and strength. With each climb, we learn a little more; we create a little more; we adjust a lot more. We’re working and worshipping and teaching online. I don’t know about you, but before March, I had never before Zoomed or Live-streamed. I am continually impressed at the creativity, innovation, and compassion of my church family in response to all these crises.
I am continually impressed at my children’s resilience, strength, and adaptability in response to all these crises. When all this started, Susannah was not yet 3 years old, and Simon was 4 months old. They are now 3 ½ years and 11 months old. They are loving and kind and funny and playful and full of energy. Time will tell the effect that these crises might have on their young lives. For now, they are healthy, smart, growing, safe, and well-loved. They are ready and willing to climb the stairs once more, knowing that their parents (tired, weary, confused, and down 1 hand) will always be there to climb with them, running to save them in case they fall.
In Psalm 37, the Bible assures us: “A person’s steps are made secure by the Lord when they delight in God’s way. Though they trip up, they won’t be thrown down, because the Lord holds their hand” (v.23-24). Friends, we are climbing and climbing and climbing and climbing the 2020 staircase. But we do not climb alone. God is with us with each step, climbing with us, running to save us in case we fall, holding our hands.
“Simon’s up the stairs!” is a cry that Susannah has now yelled many more times. Whenever anyone (usually the town crier herself), leaves the gate open or doesn’t shut it quickly enough, Simon pounces. He’s ready and willing to climb whenever given the opportunity. No matter if I find him at the top of the stairs or at the very bottom, anytime he climbs, he has a glimmer in his eye. He’s resilient and strong and proud of himself.
Perhaps we have a lot to learn from this 11-month-old. For I hope that we too can be proud of ourselves for each time this year has sent us running up the stairs. For each climb makes us stronger and more resilient. “2020 Is Up The Stairs!” Run! Breathe! God climbs with us.