A tribute to my son on graduation day, 2015.
A boy becomes…
Carter: named after your great, great gran-daddy, Carter Mayfield, born in the hot sultry south of Arkansas in the late summer of 1889. 107 years later, in the cold and frozen February of Northern Minnesota, came our Carter. He is named Carter for no other reason than my grandma, who I love very much, said one day in her sweet familiar southern drawl, “I sure wish one of you girls, if you end up having a boy, would name him Carter, after my daddy.” I needed no further convincing.
The Lord appointed me a son…and I am filled with awe. When a son enters your world, you enter into something unknown, for girls never want to be boys. Growing up, boys were funny and interesting, gross and dirty, mean and sometimes sweet. They make girls nervous and silly. Their lives tell a story intertwined with yours from where they originated… and they become. So God sent a son to attach to a deep part within me….dark, warm, quiet….with the sound of water and the beat of red, love-shaped flesh. For 270 some odd days it sounded like this….woosh…woosh…woosh… while he was becoming… being formed like clay by the hand of the Potter, intricately and skillfully woven together like the art of the Master Weaver creating a workmanship…that only Carter could become. But then one day the safe woosh of water and heart were drowned out by bright lights and loud voices and he was afraid…until a strong and gentle hand laid him on warm skin and he heard the the woosh…. again. The two who had become one took home the boy so he could keep becoming. He had already become a brother….to two girls……familiar voices that talked to him… touched him in awe and wonder at something so tiny…a toddler’s sticky lips would gently kiss this brother of hers….. becoming. There were bigger hands, too….. holding, teaching, changing…helping the mama…..they too, appointed to help him become…. and when he was afraid, sisters were safe. One day the mama’s heart heard the Voice without sound say, take the three to church so they can become….and so the two who were one, took the boy and his sisters to church and his tiny ears heard stories about God and Jesus His son…..with other kids who were becoming. After that the mama would take the boy and his sister on long walks and tell them about God and Jesus and heaven. And the two little ones would ask their mama when they could see God and when they could go to heaven….because they really wanted to go….and while mama pondered all these things in her heart, angels listened in wonder at conversations between children and mothers about God and things in which those angels longed to look….When it was time for the boy to go to school and learn things like children do so they can become… the boy was afraid, and he was learning that part of becoming was being afraid…..so the sister gently took his hand and walked him to a room with other kids so he could learn and become for a season of color, and of white, and of wind and rain and green….every day…..holding his hand…….so he wouldn’t be afraid. Sometimes at night, the boy was afraid and mama would kneel at his bed and softly pray, “Lord Jesus, let him become like You, quiet and gentle at heart….full of wisdom, serving and caring for others, leading them well…..and the boy would go to sleep, and while he slept he would grow and become. Mama did this night after night… Mama was always mostly in the kitchen….but in between faucets running and skillets sautéing……and oils frying and knives dicing……she could hear off in the distance sounds of gunfire and wounded plastic guys falling….and light sabers clashing. Once in a while she would peek into a world of castles and knights in armor being built in living rooms and scattered through hallways…..and she marveled at her small boy becoming. And then one day legos and cars and Lukes and Darth Vaders were put into boxes……and though mama’s heart felt empty and she stopped to catch her breath …..she knew her boy must keep becoming. The two who were one often brought home balls and clubs and bats that might help the boy become….but God said, “ I fashioned his fingers for stringed instruments…..to play and to strum out a rhythm I have woven into his heart…..and it will break-forth into song…….and so the boy strummed and played and sang with all of that stuff God wove into his heart. And then one day inside that old familiar church, where he had been becoming…..the boy said to his mama, “I want Jesus…” and so right there, the boy and his mom prayed inside those familiar doors… and sounds… and songs….and Mike…… … and the boy told Jesus, he wanted Him. Then hand in hand mama and son walked up to a table and broke bread and drank wine……and God said, “and now into the likeness of my Son you must become….”
And the boy played that guitar with all of his heart to other kids who were becoming like Jesus…..and he decided to once again, take the hand of his sister and be brave in front of all those kids, and be led into a tub filled with water in that old familiar church. Dunked with his sister at his side…and to put on display his desire to follow Jesus….and angels cheered. The boy became a teenager and some of those same kids with tiny ears that listened to stories about God, together wide-eyed and side by side, were together again in a basement writing music, banging on drums, and singing into microphones…shaking windows. And mama would sneak into the well of the stairs to watch and to listen while things were frying and boiling …..and mom would sing along and dance….in the kitchen, to teenage boys becoming.
One day the boy went to work and he worked so hard he thought he would die. Everything hurt and he begged his mom to not make him go back the next day…..his mom sat next to him on his bed and said, you must go back, for you must keep becoming……and God was watching……for He had a Son who knew the ache and the weary of hard work…..framing houses for people to live and become. And the boy learned to work hard, and know this too, is from God, in order for him to keep becoming. And the boy kept singing and strumming…… loud from the basement, and mom would listen and tears would spill down her cheeks in wonderment at God’s design… and she prayed….. “for You, Lord, let it be for You…for Your glory, that he becomes…”
And the boy kept becoming with the voice of his dad now……There were conversations in kitchens about God-chasing… and fear… and idols…. and decisions to be made….. and that boy and his mom prayed about these things, while angels listened and watched that boy becoming….
And then the day finally came when it was time to shut the door on the building where the same faces gathered each year for those old familiar seasons of color and white and wind and rain and green…and the boy was afraid…..and the two who were one sat at the side of his bed and prayed, that God would show him how to keep becoming….and the young man who had become so much more than his mama could ever dream or ask for safely went to sleep. “I will never leave you or forsake you…and I will complete the good work I started in you.” (Hebrews 5:8, Philippians 1:6)