It must have been about 2 am when a very loud “crash” in the living room woke us up last night. My husband got up, examined the situation and came back to bed. “That one porcelain doll you had on the shelf fell,” he said. “I picked it up. No big deal,” he added as he crawled into the warm bed and fell back to sleep.
Sure was loud for a little doll, I thought.
It wasn’t until this morning that we discovered that the entire shelf had yanked itself out of the wall and taken with it a large display window filled with pictures as well as a lamp, books and the doll. It even managed to rip an outlet out of the wall.
My mind went back to at least ten years ago when we received the heavy oak shelf as a gift. My husband carefully drilled the holes right where the studs were and screwed the shelf to the wall.
“There,” he said, “it’s not going anywhere.”
And until yesterday, it hadn’t.
Just yesterday the shelf looked just as strong as ever, like it was never going to go anywhere, like it would be there forever, day after day, just because. And now, my living room looks like it went through an explosion.
Even though I’m no carpenter, I understand that this could not have happened overnight. Somehow, in the secret dark places of the wall, there must have been tension on the screws holding the shelf, or instability hidden somewhere. The process of the wall –or the screws– becoming weak or eroding or whatever took place must have been going on for a while before it came down to the loud crash.
And I think about how so often what looks strong is so weak and what looks weak is so strong, and how what I see on the outside is not always what is happening on the inside.
And I think about how “difficult” people who are so hard to love can be softened over time as we invest ourselves into their lives until the day when they open up their hearts and we realize that something beautiful has been happening all along.
And I think of my garden, how it seems that a tomato literally appears overnight, and it feels like a miracle, and it is a miracle, yet this overnight miracle has been planted and watered and loved and weeded and nurtured for quite a few weeks.
As I look at the mess that my living room is this morning, I can’t help but smile.
“God’s suddenlies are as slow as molasses dripping down from a jar,” I tell my husband as we begin to pick up the mess.
“What are you talking about?”
“This shelf fell suddenly, but the fall was at least ten years in the making. And God’s suddenlies, they work the same way,” I explain.
“I like that,” he says smiling. “Yes, indeed, God’s suddenlies are as slow as molasses.”