Sunday afternoon, windows open, birds singing, lawn mowers humming outside, a lilac breeze reminds me I am alive and life is good. I rest and my thoughts ramble. I recount the crazy hours of this week past; a quick trip south to dye Easter Eggs and squeeze precious moments out of this life as my sister’s children grow into their double digit years. Manicures, shopping, Wii golf and other beloved rituals that can only be entrusted to an auntie crushed and rendered powerless to the reign of love. Back to Indiana for Sunday to celebrate the resurrection and to share ham and chocolate ice cream cake with more nieces all ruffles and bows.
There have been classes to teach, Hebrew and Revelation and a lesson on the funeral as pastoral care. Papers and more papers to grade, meetings to keep, prayers to offer, sweat poured out three times, not five which was my goal, but calories burned nonetheless. There have been rehearsals and preparations for this week’s worship, trips to the grocery store and errands run and moments stolen here and there for the keeping of the soul.
This afternoon, the laundry waits as do the dishes but rest feels good and the company of my best friend; my partner in the good and hard of this life, my companion on this reclining sofa and I look to an evening ahead of us without obligation and it is honeysuckle sweet.
As I stumble along, counting carbs, keeping appointments, remembering birthdays, I am all the while working hard to cultivate some sort of balance between the life inside of me, the fire that always burns and the physical limitations of life in this body, this time, this space.
I am reminded that making time, creating space, the keeping of the garden of the soul is crucial but also is Jesus’ charge to “…watch and pray” (Mark 14.38, Matthew 26.41), the Faithful and True Witness’ word to hear what the Spirit is saying (Revelation 2,3). I am reminded that one must not only cultivate space but one must also be able to read to exegete her life, to see and hear God on the wind, to recognize the presence of the Divine in her midst.
And so, somewhere between Trader Joe’s, a hair appointment and making returns at Macy’s I heard this, and it blessed me so I share it with you.
From the poet Marie Howe after the passing of her brother, an excerpt “What the Living Do”
Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there. And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through the open living-room windows because the heat's on too high in here and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking, I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve, I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning. What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss — we want more and more and then more of it.
But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass, say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless: I am living. I remember you.
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