I am sitting in the waiting area of HarperCollins publishers, marveling at my impossible dream come true, when I notice the statue on the front desk. I smile. I’m not really surprised by its presence there. It’s simple, and small, but hugely significant for me. Jesus is kneeling at Peter’s feet.
And I am taken back, as I often am, to that hot and stuffy hospital room in August 1988, where I wait nervously with my heavily pregnant sister to welcome a new niece or nephew into the world.
I never wanted to be there really, if truth be told. I was truly terrified of being present at the birth. What if I fainted? What if something went wrong? What if I couldn’t be strong for her like she needed me to be? What if I ended up needing more help from the nurses than she did?
My what ifs haunted me all the week before. And so I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed. Hard.
It happened on a beautiful, hot afternoon in the south of England. My sister and I were gardening, pottering in and out of the house all day, enjoying the feel of grass under our feet. The baby was already overdue and her pains started suddenly. We grabbed the bag of essentials that had been waiting patiently by the front door and headed out to the car. I was more nervous than her, but she didn’t know that.
Less than an hour later, the nurse slipped out of the room for a moment, and that’s when my sister, flat on her back, and in no position to do anything other than give birth, somehow noticed something I hadn’t.
Glenys, she said, slightly horrified, look at my feet!
It was true. They were dirty. The evidence of our gardening was undeniable.
Don’t worry, I assured her, I’ll wash them for you.
Even then, I didn’t realize the significance of what I had just said, or really what was happening in that little room. Even when I turned back from the sink armed with paper towel, and soap, and began to wash between her toes, even then I didn’t get it. It’s only when my sister stopped me and said, incredulously,
Glenys, what are you doing?
I looked up at her and time stood still. I knew then it was true. I knew that what she uttered next was absolutely true:
And how could it be denied? The presence of Jesus in that little room could not have been more real or more tangible than if he had appeared in very flesh and shook my hand.
Hannah Faith Glenys Kearney entered the world on August 5th, 1988.
Whenever I see her pretty face I am reminded of the night I stood by my sister’s side and held her hand with a strength, a confidence, and a power that I had never felt before and have never experienced since.
And as I drove home in the dark that night, I filled my sister’s car with song. I knew, with absolute certainty, as I know now, that
when I am afraid, He’s here;
when I am alone, He’s here:
when I am faced with what ifs, He’s here;
no matter what…
He’s always here.