My wife and the soon-to-be-mother of my soon-to-be-present child had been feeling anxious, just as her pregnancy calendar turned to the ninth hour—the final month. She was fretting over the placement of dressers, the storage of clothes and toys, and the cleanliness of sheets and surfaces. Turns out she had been “nesting”, a natural reaction in pregnant mothers where they are hyper-attentive to the readiness of the abode that is to house the newborn child. Once we realized that that was the cause of her internal stress, we made haste to fortify and freshen the apartment to the standards of our incoming prince or princess.
Ash feels calmer and more peaceful since we bolstered our nest. Yet I realized that I, too, had been uneasy. My nesting anxiety came in the forms of safety and financial preparedness, both of which have been solved through the simultaneous upgrade to a newer, more spacious, and certainly more able car, the triumph over a student loan, and wise stewardship of money.
It is by pure providence that I would, at the same time as the aforementioned events, happen upon the word “halcyon” while digging through notes I took when reading A Leap in the Dark by John Ferling long ago. It is a splendid word with an interesting and complex history. According to WordHistory.com:
“The expression halcyon days is from Greek ἀλκυονίδες ἡμέραι (=alkuonides hemerai), in Latin alcyonei dies, also alcyonides, alcedonia, which designated fourteen days of calm weather, anciently believed to occur about the winter solstice when the halcyon was brooding. In the sense of a period of peace and happiness, halcyon days was used for example by the English poet and playwright William Shakespeare (1564-1616) in The First Part of King Henry the Sixth (1591?).”https://wordhistories.net/2016/10/09/halcyon/
There is something majestic about describing stilly days as halcyon, even if you mispronounce the word as I initially did. For my wife to reclaim a period of peace and happiness as she enters the final stretch of pregnancy provides serenity for me. Adding to this my own reclamation of tranquility following the purchase of a family-friendly car and the ever-more confidence of our finances, the time to welcome our first child would only increase in joy if our immediately family could more readily travel to us. (This ecdemic is tiresome, isn’t it?) One could say we are tranquil like nesting halcyons at winter solstice.
Yet as we expect and as has been reminded to us repeatedly, the assays of parenthood is not complete without mishaps, uncertainties, and trials. In other words, these golden and halcyon days in the exciting lead up to parenthood we are experiencing now will not last forever. At best, they will come intermittently.
I realize, then, that this period of peace and idyllic calm is as fleeting as the things that created this said period. There will be a time where we find our current apartment or car too small and unfit for a family; we will encounter moments of uncertainty—perhaps financial, occupational, educational, what have you. From where then would peace come?
The everlasting and unchangeable source of the halcyon is Christ Jesus. Ash and I have learned over the years of our marriage (and yet we are oft quick to forget!) that while the unknown can be daunting, the trials harsh, and the challenges taxing, God is there guide to us. He provides the halcyon days that surpass our understanding.
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Special thanks to Merriam-Webster.com, WordHistories.com, and Bible.com. Image by footiechic from Pixabay.