At last the sun stretches stripes of gold over the living room floor and we decide to go ice skating. It only takes a short while to gather mittens, hats, coats, snow pants, and skates. We press into the van, tight and close, and we're on the road.
Once we're at the rink the boys are off like wild.
The big boys whir around fast while the smaller two grasp Lonny's hands and take short, stomping steps on the ice. I'm a spectator. My five-thirteen (smile) height is a wobbly mess on skates. I worry about injuring my healed back. I prefer to be in control of my arms and legs. So I stand on the sidelines and watch my crew. The Zamboni is fresh off the ice but before long there are cross hatches over the smooth surface and my boys go round and round. Now the small boys are gliding too. Each is grasping the hand of a big brother.
The little boys have stored-up winter energy but their legs tire fast and they take a few spills. The bigger boys heft them by the shoulders, steady their feet, hold their arms tight, and soon they're gliding again. The smaller boys need the bigger boys' strength. They need the support. And the bigger boys don't let go.
Sometimes we just need someone to come alongside us. Sometimes when we grow weak and tired we need someone to hold us up.
I'm smiling and waving when Sam slides close to the fence. "C'mon, Mom," he says. "I wish you'd give it a try."
I want to tell him no because I enjoy the safety of this side of the fence, but his eyes are pleading and I want to be that sort of mom. The sort that joins her family where they're at. The kind that can laugh and encourage and play hard, too.
So I lace up the remaining pair of boy-skates (outgrown by one my sons), and I teeter and totter to the ice. Sam is waiting at the gate. His smile makes me warm inside.
"You can do it, Mom," he says. "And I'll be here to help."
It's been a lot of years, and I'm stiff and afraid. But across the ice another of my boys gives me a thumbs-up so I inch along, a cling-on to the wall, trying to blend with the small kids scraping the sides, too.
And like he said, Sam is there. Encouraging. Helping. Lifting me with his kind words. He's not physically holding my arms, like the big boys and Lonny are holding Gabe and Zay's, but he's providing just the support I need to keep moving around.
There have been many times in my life, serious times, when I've needed the strong support of someone else.
After a dozen circles he's proud as can be. I'm still close to the side, unwilling to join the throng of skaters, but I'm gliding and I'm less afraid of falling, too.
"There you go," Sam says. "You officially skate as well as Elf."
I laugh and he laughs, too, and it's then that I understand that I'm having fun. We're gliding in great loops and the sky has gone dark. There are twinkling lights and Christmas music spills from the speakers in a sweet, festive flow.
The little boys and I - we've done well today.
We just needed a little help.
So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up - one on one side, one on the other - so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. Exodus 17:8-13
So hold up my arms, I said hold up my arms
Like Moses in the desert when the battle ran long
And hold up my arms, we can go at this together
When my arms aren't strong
When my arms aren't strong
"Hold Up My Arms" by Andrew Peterson
From Clear to Venus
Lord, thank you for the times others have held me up in physical, spiritual, and emotional ways. Help me to have a heart that is sensitive to the needs of others and allow me to be a strong support, too. Amen.