Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sunday’s Journey

Sunday’s Journey

Sometimes, the extraordinary comes wrapped in silence and hoarfrost. 

Fog the night before—and often it is foggy before spledour bursts—and more fog in the morning, but there was light to see, so I venture out. And the fog blesses every branch and blade with thickly delicate frost. Laden heavy with weightlessness, boughs linger gleeful for morning sun. But this moment is for me, for me to share with waiting creation. I run in the silence, the hush of this moment, and am gentled into glory. No camera, no way of documenting it, I must instead labour, to associate, to think deeper; and I must remember.

Round the lake in whispers, my breathing the only wind, my strides the only motor, I join the silent song, and let my mind grow quiet; content to praise and pant and know I am alive.

The old graveyard rests peaceful just off the path. And today I can live spontaneously, because today is a gift, so I travel up, and run along the fence, my feet leaving prints in the whitened grass. I look for his resting place, where we laid his body sixteen years ago. I’ve never visited Papa’s grave in all that time. But today is the day to live, and remember, and live deeper for the recollection. 

I find his stone by his parents’ graves. The wheat heads and wild roses etched deep and simple into granite, the plain script and humble angle—these tell his story. He worked the land his whole life, saw the shift of industry, watched the world change around him, and still he plowed and harvested. Tilling came as a curse to Adam, yet it has turned to blessing, because there Papa found his identity, and his God. And he lost nothing for bowing his head in humility, and braving death’s scythe. He gained, and we his children reap the harvest he cultivated.  

I kneel and brush a granite chip off the slab. And even our firmest edifices fade and erode, and the only things that last forever are the things we can’t see or handle. A seed in husk nestles in the etched letters. I brush it out and let it fall to the ground. And if it dies to itself, it will bear much fruit—it will not be utterly alone. How strange the paradox of grace.

I lift my hand from the stone. The moist, warm imprint echoes like a shadow: dark, yet fading. And our warmth is a shadow, a brief touch, a fragile breath. And it tells us there is better air we have not breathed, vistas we have not reached, a whole world we have not known . . . a world we were made for.

Fog recedes as sun rises. Mists lift like organza plumes. The very earth seems to exhale its first fresh breath, sighing chiffon vapours to the heavens. And I breathe, heart slowed, soul stilled. I breathe to heaven in this place, and remember that I am a breath, and Heaven gives me life, and I labour with joy to breathe its air, as the fog lifts, and the thin veil shivers and fades. 


This is hope, wrapped in hoarfrost.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

To Papa's school

Today, he would have been eighty-four. And I wonder how life would be different if he were here. For sixteen years, we have remembered his life. His weaknesses and failures instruct us, his strengths inspire us, his legacy colours our plans for the future and our enjoyment of now

So I walk down the road to his school. Sun blushes golden and dogs leap ahead through the harvested fields. I love this school. I come here when I need to think, when I need to listen, when I’m aching and broken inside and the voices clamour or the silence taunts me to despair. Sometimes, words come, audible to my spirit from the One Who made me. Sometimes, the silence says more.

Today, I sit in the door, on that support beam they added when schoolhouse turned to granary. Windows long ago boarded up, the pot-bellied stove crumbling to imperceptible rusted particles outside, the teacher’s house drug to nearby slough, where it waits in deadened silence. 

I wonder what the school was like when he came. The wall still tells where the coats hooks mounted. That beautiful yellow door looks down like a guardian angel. Someday, I’d like to take it home, to remind me that only a door separates me from the life of eternity, and the sound from heaven travels through wood and dust. 

Round the back, paint vanished, the etchings of once-little people still linger. His little sister carved her initials, along with three others, only known to those who love them and love their stories. And life is an etching—she’s gone too, a generation slipping into silence, their marks deep, though faded; signs for another group of children to read. 

And these husks, echoing the stories of lives gone by; the remaining shells: their independent beauty engulfed by the significance of those who once sojourned there. They represent, call to remembrance, beckon the heart back to the old paths, and into the simple beauty still possible now.

The wind whistles low and soothing. Once, he drove the wagon to school, his sisters in tow; the only boy, the dutiful son. Now his sons and grandsons drive tractor and cart and combine through fields, happy heirs of an honest legacy, inheritors of the working man’s ethic and physique.

His sisters were cheerful, tiny women, making happy homes and secure children. Now, his granddaughters nestle little ones close, and make their nests resourceful havens, and wonder what nicknames he would have given the great grandchildren.

Some etchings lay forgotten, and some construct the next generation’s dwellings. It’s a makeshift lean-to, a nest to build and fill and empty, because we are earth nomads, after all. And beside the grayed scribbles of forefathers, we etch our names, we too were here, and it matters.

The wind moans, stirring dust, our haunting shells, reminding us that we are made for more, and we live this mystery of life leading to more life, the echo of the song our Maker sings over us.

In loving memory of Papa Collin
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