TS Eliot, God’s Sovereignty, and FaceTime

Two years ago, almost to this day, I received a text from my mom that said, “Bethany’s in labor. Please pray.”

See, that morning I awoke to the crisp London air and met the world’s brightest Eliot scholars to embark on our journey to Burnt Norton–one of the inspired places of Eliot’s Four Quartets. It was about a three hour bus ride filled with laughter and conversation amongst friendships that week had formed. Normally, I don’t remember details very well. I tend more to the side of big ideas and abstract concepts. But this day,  every detail is permanently etched into my memory.

Low tree branches screeched across the windows of the bus as we began approaching the sight. One of the leaders of that week had just informed us of our soon coming arrival. In that moment, I was completely oblivious, and completely content. Then came the text.

My heart shattered. Could this be happening? She’s two weeks early. I’m an ocean away.

Every other memory of that day is seen through tear filled lenses. Praying with my sister over the phone. Walking the grounds of scape. Yelling at airlines who denied me flights. Frantically checking my phone awaiting the final text.

“Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”~TS Eliot

As these words were being read aloud under a white canopy, those two measly words came in. “She’s here.” Temperance Chloe. A point.

Fast forward a year: I was sitting at a desk facing an open window on the top floor of my home in Ireland. Contemplation stirred up the day of my nieces birth, how I felt two days later when I finally met her, how much she looks like her mother, how much joy she brings to everyone she meets. At that moment I penned her letter for her first birthday, as well as one to be opened on her eighteenth. A point.

Fast forward yet another year–today. This week has been a particularly trying one. Each day, my body over taken by debilitating migraines, ones exacerbated when at school or work or just anywhere that was not a dark room. In spite of these things, I had still planned on returning to my home in order to celebrate Tempy’s birthday. I had made preparations. Cleaned out my car, bought new tires, filled it with gas, and even packed a lunch to head to Magnolia directly after church. But God, he had other plans. Leaving church, I noticed the smell of gasoline. After pulling over, to my dismay, I saw the gas tank profusely leaking. I spoke with my dad and Brother-in-Love on the phone, and they advised I not make the trek back home. Tears welled, and I turned around. A point.

The motif, the still point, that courses through each of these stories is God’s mighty hand. Although I cannot know fully the mind of God, I can know what scripture says about Him. And scripture says that He is good, that He is sovereign, and that He is greatly to be praised. These are the truths that I hold fast to. Three years ago, I was in a place where this kind of veer off coarse would have sent me into the ultimate shame spiral–these truths were far from my line of sight. Silly. But that’s what sin does. Yet the Lord in his kindness continues to choose me, and work daily in my life.

As I FaceTimed my perfect little niece this afternoon, the Lord smiled and showed me healing to a wound I didn’t know was open.  Whether in illness, heartache, or any circumstance, He is there. God didn’t just throw us onto this earth and say, “fend for yourself.” He created for us a home and we ran away from him, yet he calls us back and pursues us. He woos us. He sent His son to die for us.

That is the work of a good God.


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