“If we only take the miracles that taste sweet, I don’t think we’ll ever taste one. If we wait until we have the perfect song, I don’t think we’ll ever sing. We are in the miracle; we are in the dream.” Jane Kristen Marczewski, known professionally as Nightbirde said before her recent passing after a four year battle with cancer.
It's always difficult to answer the question, "Why God?" especially when it comes from a child. Why am I being removed from my home? Why do some have food to eat and others don't? Why my parents don't love me? Your heart aches as you know that nothing you say will make matters better. It's been that kind of month for me and God revealed, 'BJ it's the lens in which you look at your circumstances. Change the len and you'll see the miracle'.
Biblical miracles, defined as those acts that only God can perform; usually superceding natural laws acts, are stories we like to tell, but were personal nightmares for our biblical heroes. Bible favorites like:
Abraham and Sarah Conceived at Old Age (Gen. 21:2)
Moses Parts the Red Sea (Exodus 16:21)
Manna from Heaven (Exodus 16:4)
Jonah and the Whale (Jonah 2)
The Immaculate Conception (Matt. 18:1)
Daniel and the Lions’ Den (Dan. 6: 21-22)
Jesus Turns Water into Wine (John 2: 7-9)
Feeding the Multitudes (Matt. 14)
Jesus Walks on Water (Matt. 14: 25-27)
Today I want to share with you a modern day miracle, a personal nightmare, in which the len is constantly being adjusted to show that we are the miracle. Song written by Jane Kristen Marczewski (Nightbirde) as her young life ebbs away.
“God is on the Bathroom Floor” by Nightbirde
I don’t remember most of Autumn, because I lost my mind late in the summer and for a long time after that, I wasn’t in my body. I was a lightbulb buzzing somewhere far.
After the doctor told me I was dying, and after the man I married said he didn’t love me anymore, I chased a miracle in California and sixteen weeks later, I got it. The cancer was gone. But when my brain caught up with it all, something broke. I later found out that all the tragedy at once had caused a physical head trauma, and my brain was sending false signals of excruciating pain and panic.
I spent three months propped against the wall. On nights that I could not sleep, I laid in the tub like an insect, staring at my reflection in the shower knob. I vomited until I was hollow. I rolled up under my robe on the tile. The bathroom floor became my place to hide, where I could scream and be ugly; where I could sob and spit and eventually doze off, happy to be asleep, even with my head on the toilet.
I have had cancer three times now, and I have barely passed thirty. There are times when I wonder what I must have done to deserve such a story. I fear sometimes that when I die and meet with God, that He will say I disappointed Him, or offended Him, or failed Him. Maybe He’ll say I just never learned the lesson, or that I wasn’t grateful enough. But one thing I know for sure is this: He can never say that He did not know me.
I am God’s downstairs neighbor, banging on the ceiling with a broomstick. I show up at His door every day. Sometimes with songs, sometimes with curses. Sometimes apologies, gifts, questions, demands. Sometimes I use my key under the mat to let myself in. Other times, I sulk outside until He opens the door to me Himself.
I have called Him a cheat and a liar, and I meant it. I have told Him I wanted to die, and I meant it. Tears have become the only prayer I know. Prayers roll over my nostrils and drip down my forearms. They fall to the ground as I reach for Him. These are the prayers I repeat night and day; sunrise, sunset.
Call me bitter if you want to—that’s fair. Count me among the angry, the cynical, the offended, the hardened. But count me also among the friends of God. For I have seen Him in rare form. I have felt His exhale, laid in His shadow, squinted to read the message He wrote for me in the grout: “I’m sad too.”
If an explanation would help, He would write me one—I know it. But maybe an explanation would only start an argument between us—and I don’t want to argue with God. I want to lay in a hammock with Him and trace the veins in His arms.
I remind myself that I’m praying to the God who let the Israelites stay lost for decades. They begged to arrive in the Promised Land, but instead He let them wander, answering prayers they didn’t pray. For forty years, their shoes didn’t wear out. Fire lit their path each night. Every morning, He sent them mercy-bread from heaven.
I look hard for the answers to the prayers that I didn’t pray. I look for the mercy-bread that He promised to bake fresh for me each morning. The Israelites called it manna, which means “what is it?”
That’s the same question I’m asking—again, and again. There’s mercy here somewhere—but what is it? What is it? What is it?
I see mercy in the dusty sunlight that outlines the trees, in my mother’s crooked hands, in the blanket my friend left for me, in the harmony of the wind chimes. It’s not the mercy that I asked for, but it is mercy nonetheless. And I learn a new prayer: thank you. It’s a prayer I don’t mean yet, but will repeat until I do.
Call me cursed, call me lost, call me scorned. But that’s not all. Call me chosen, blessed, sought-after. Call me the one who God whispers his secrets to. I am the one whose belly is filled with loaves of mercy that were hidden for me.
Even on days when I’m not so sick, sometimes I go lay on the mat in the afternoon light to listen for Him. I know it sounds crazy, and I can’t really explain it, but God is in there—even now. I have heard it said that some people can’t see God because they won’t look low enough, and it’s true.
If you can’t see him, look lower. God is on the bathroom floor.
“I did get a miracle — just not the one I wanted,” she wrote. “I get to look for light and find it. I get to see how much love can endure. I get to walk the journey with thousands of people like me, who can’t stop hoping, no matter how hard we try.
Thank you Jane for shining brightly in this world through suffering to show us all that not all miracles taste sweet, but that does not negate the fact that we are all living a personal miracle because the miracle is in us.
Change the len and you will see the miracle.