Behold, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
and every eye will see him,
Revelations 1:7 (ESV)My daughter is talking to me; we're on our way home from Post. She volunteered all day, compiling folders for in-processing troops, making copies, labeling CDs, shredding papers. I've been working with soldiers, interviewing, scheduling, explaining, emailing, polishing resumes, tracking progress, annotating records. Encouraging them in their transition from military to civilian life, listening to them. Ironically, my mind isn't fully on what my daughter saying.
"Janet. It's Jesus; He is coming."
Janet. There it is. She's had to repeat herself. She only uses my first name when she's exhausted any other options. Like 'Mom'. It's not disrespect. It's perseverance, and it makes me smile. I hear her this time. She has my complete attention.
"It's JEsus." (Emphasis on the first syllable...) He is coming." There is a hint of excitement in her voice, anticipation. I feel the hairs raise up on my arms.
"Are you ready?"
This is classic Sierra, my daughter with the extra chromosome, the extra dose of concrete understanding.
I'm driving through fields of future hay, probably waist high, green and gold with flecks of purple and yellow, native grasses and flowering weeds. They ripple and move with each gentle breeze, with each breath of air, like sea anemones in ocean currents, brilliant, sinuous, alive. The fields are alive; the wind is alive. It is a God moment.
Am I ready?
It is not the last time she mentions this casual Jesus to me, this real and very present Jesus, the one who is coming, my daughter of outrageous statements and questions. My daughter who lives in the here and now, like an old reel-to-reel film of never-ending ever-moments.
She walks down the stairs, right hand brushing the wall, left hand hugging the rail. Maximum stability.
"Mom, Jesus, He was here."
I'm in the family room and I feel a goose-bump prickle, skin raising along the back of my neck. My thoughts crowd my brain, clamor inside my head. Here? In my house? I look around at the dust gathered along the baseboards, at the wisps of dog hair crouched in the corners of the floor, at the papers and books on the coffee table, at the unfolded pile of clothes on the sofa.
"Maybe we should clean the house," voice purposely flat and expressionless, eyes acknowledging my girl. "Do you think he noticed this dirty house?" Oh, shades of Martha in my reaction!
I sneak a look. She's processing. Eyes forward, hint of a smile; her hands like birds by her waist, lift up, turn at the wrists, down on the lap, up again. This is a habit, probably related to one of the neural pathways in her brain. The movement is my cue that she's concentrating on her words, on her communication, on being understood. It is unconscious and hypnotizing.
"He is coming. Are you ready?"
I don't know that she understands when she uses tenses. It is one of the language things we work on: yesterday, today, tomorrow. In Signed English, hand positioning designates tense. Throw the hand behind, over the shoulder, means an action occurred in the past. Behind equals the here and now. Push the hand toward the front, the action will occur in the future. In front equals before the here and now. It is a concrete way to perceive time, and we use it.
"Jesus WAS here? (hand over shoulder), or Jesus IS coming? (push to front).
Laughter, giggles. She wraps her sleep-warm arms around me in a good-morning hug. It is our routine. She doesn't answer the 'which'. It may be one of the most difficult thought processes for her. She has to evaluate the better answer.
I let it go.
But the thought haunts me. I share the exchange with my mother, with my husband, with my sister. We have all agreed that Sierra knows God, that she manifests an unusual and direct connection to all things spiritual. Is this prophecy?
I want to be ready.
We sit together at the breakfast table. The kitchen door is open, propped by a ceramic vase, screen door stopping the summertime flies. Sierra takes a sip of her coffee and points to the fan of dawn, beginning in the eastern sky.
"Look, Mom. It is Jesus. He is here."
I see the lighted horizon, rays of sunlight stretching toward clouds with reluctant gray underbellies. Color has begun to bleed into the sky; it promises to be a beautiful sunrise.
"Here?" I ask. "Here in the sky?"
"Yes, Mom. Jesus. He is the sky."
I think about heaven, how I've tried to explain heaven to this daughter, heaven that I don't even entirely understand. The concept of heaven is convenient. God is in heaven. Look to the sky. God is in the sky.
But she said Jesus IS the sky, not that He is IN the sky.
I wonder if she's missed a word, or if I've missed a point. I think I may need her to explain heaven to me. He IS the sky. God IS the field, and the wind. Jesus lives. In us. With us. Heaven.
He is coming.
He is here.
Are you ready?
Thank you for Sierra and her unique outlook. Thank you for teaching me through her. You are here, always, with us. You will never leave us, nor forsake us; we are yours. I am yours. Thank you for helping me to realize the difference between my convenient explanations, and the very real and present gift of Jesus.