I rocked Jude and prayed the warm misty air would soothe his lungs and offer some relief.
Why does croup always hit in the middle of the night? Why does it have to steal my sleeping babe and replace him with a barking seal imposter?
My 17 month old fussed and fidgeted on my lap. He held my hairbrush and his brother's lime green squirt bottle until he chucked them on the floor in protest of being sick and tired.
My heavy eyelids begged to close, but Jude needed a few more minutes of steamy therapy.
So I began to sing.
The usual soothing bedtime tunes...Jesus Loves Me gave way to Gentle Shepherd which ushered in a chorus of As the Deer.
Then without a conscious thought or decision, I found the words of Silent Night pouring from my lips.
Silent night. Holy night. All is calm. All is bright.
Jude's little jammied body snuggled into mine and his breathing settled.
It was barely November and Christmas was hardly on my radar. But there in my steam-filled bathroom with dingy grout and a pile of little boys' discarded dirty clothes crumpled on the floor, the words of this classic Christmas carol washed over my heart.
I imagined how the air in that stable where the Christ child was born might have also been thick and steamy from the sweat of labor, the hot breath of animals, the stench of manure. I thought about how this sweet melodic song was really depicting a story that, to the mother living it, could not have been nearly as picturesque as our postcards and nativty scene figurines might make us believe.
I have given birth three times in a hospital (twice with drugs) and, let's be honest, it was not a pretty picture. How might my new mother horror have been magnified had I been laying on dirty straw instead of a sterile hospital bed with my virgin-delivery husband catching my babe instead of a seasoned doctor?
Silent night. Holy night.
All is calm, all is bright.
Round young virgin, mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace! Sleep in heavenly peace.
After the chaos and confusion of birth there was this Holy child. A Holy child whose presence must have masked his mother's pain, who made that smelly stable holy, too.
Heaven's peace filled that otherwise ordinary space.
Glories stream from heaven above
Heavenly hosts sing Hallelujah
And God whispered to my heart,
I didn't want to be pulled from the comfort of my cozy bed and restful slumber to care for a sick child. But, oh, what a gift it turned out to be!I love you. I am here, filling THIS musty, ordinary room. My heavenly peace is available to you, too. I am Holy. Praise me for my holiness!
Because there in my steamy bathroom, Jesus showed up.
And my heart was filled with joy. Not happiness for circumstance. But joy for Christ.
Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.
Jesus, Lord at thy birth!