TENEBRAE

By Lisa Huddleston

The damned nails
Picked out of a basket
On the way into the dimly lit
Sanctuary of Christ
A silent service
Tenebrae
But iron nails kept falling
On the hardwood floor
Building my anxiety, my judgment, my frustration
Damned, noisy nails
Damned, noisy people
Seven silent words
Spoken once but tonight
Printed words on a screen
Then pounding
Nails into wood
But first through tender flesh
Not for judgment
But for forgiveness
For my sin, my carelessness, my clumsiness
And the damned nails
Held Him there until
It was finished

FUNERALS AND OTHER REMINDERS THAT I AM NOT IN CHARGE

By Lisa Huddleston

Yesterday we all attended the burial and memorial service for my husband’s sweet Uncle George.  The day began with bitter cold and snow (!) in March no less.  Sunday is Easter for goodness sake.  Snow is unacceptable, and I was not happy.  Not about George’s being dead and selfishly reminding me that everyone else is also dying.  Not about being stung by the biting wind and ice.  Not about having to put my tender soul through so much emotion.  But funerals wait for no man—unless you are family and are coming in from a long distance—so there I was (we were).  Bitter but present.

Thank God for my husband.  He is the glue in my life—in my crazy head that fractures over the least thing.  Gorilla glue!  And thank God for my precious daughter and her husband.  And for my life-long family/friend Sandra who always makes me laugh.  And for our parents who are still alive and the aunts and the uncles and the millions (no kidding) of cousins and their babies.  So much life at that graveside and at the rowdy lunch for the family that preceded the service.

But I am a true pessimist.  I always do my best to look for the dark side.  Why waste a great cloud by loading it down with a silver lining?  Gray days are fabulous just as they are.  So I tried to be appropriately gloomy and dark.  I wore a black dress, black tights, black shoes (funky, zippered booties with excruciating heels to make me suffer) and a very long, very sober black overcoat.  Appropriately appalled.  Very funereal.

But that stinking silver lining was just too bright.  Ah, what a wonderful family celebration.  George and his already heaven-dwelling wife, Joyce, just did everything too right not to celebrate!  Their four sons and two sons-in-law led the memorial with perfect originality—proving what great parents they had had.  Parents who loved them into being uniquely who God had knit them to be.  Whew!  Not a dry eye in the room.  It really should have been attended by everyone—family, friends and strangers alike.

I sat listening with silver-lined tears staining my face and my natural pessimism staining my heart.  Did they know how lucky they were?  Very few have families like theirs.  And I know I’m not living nearly as well as they did.  And, oh my gosh, what will my kids say about me?  And what will my sisters and I do or say at our father’s memorial?  And why don’t I invest in peoples’ lives more like George and Joyce did?  And why can’t I even be a little more understanding about the disabilities my own parents and in-laws are facing as they age?  Instead I am royally pissed off at the system around here.  Why do people have to fall apart so disgracefully?  It is shameful to do such rotten things to such strong people.  And how soon will my children be just as angry over my failings?  (Are they already?)  And, God, do you really mean for it to be so stinking awful?

Forget this mess.  I am out of this.  Nope.  Not going to play the game if I can’t even understand the rules.  I like word games.  Not thoughtless games of chance.  Just cremate me and throw me to the wind.  And not in the vegetable garden as my daughter used to fear—no mother-flavored asparagus (I promise).  Some place wild and free, please.  Hang hippie wind art from the trees.  Let the tossing and blowing remind you of my always restless soul and the brevity of breath.  Whew!  I’m a mess when I can’t be in control–which is basically all the time.

Thank God for my husband!  Thank God for God, too.  Whew! And again I say it—whew!

THE PROSE OF SPRING PROMISE

(I thought my computer had eaten this post.  Surprise–here it is like a lily I’d forgotten about planting.  Spring!)

Spring is coming.  I can feel it.  Just today I heard frog songs coming from the wet spots the car transversed on the homeward drive from city to country.  From my window I see robins pecking the soggy ground searching for the creepy crawling things they love.  Daffodils are already yellow exclamation points in the pasture–accidental gardens the cows meander through without notice. But I notice, and my heart is restless with longing.  It’s right around the corner.  Spring and then summer.  Oh, I cannot wait!

And this fever reminds me of another stirring.  A wooing.  A drawing.  A hungering and a thirsting that is not as familiar as my annual Spring Fever–but is even more poignant in my soul.  A “comin’ home to a place I’ve never been before” to quote my old spiritual guide (John Denver in his “Rocky Mountain High”).  I feel a physical rumbling in my spiritual stomach and know that now is the time to feed the desire of my heart.

Oh, I have tried to satisfy this hunger.  (Who doesn’t try to scratch his own itch?)  I have sought knowledge.  I have hunted recognition.  I have even tried to ignore it altogether, but I have fasted far too long.  Now is the time to eat, to gorge myself even, with manna.

Manna?  Yes.  It’s God-food I’ve been missing, and he is right now giving it to me on a silver platter by leading me to read the whole Bible during the 40 days of Lent.  The food of his Word is filling me with enough for today and a desire for tomorrow.  I have never read so much at once! The truths are flying out as I turn the pages!  Flinging and splattering in my face!  He sees his peopleHe hears his children.  And he wants us to look and listen as well.  Rich and filling food!  It is simply not possible to get too much of this good thing.

So I am looking–at the harbingers of spring, at the promises of soon-to-be summer, at foreshadows of homecoming and contentment, and burning bushes, babies in mangers, stars in dark skies at night, and signs and wonders of many kinds.  Ah … Jesus.  Thank you for the bread that satisfies and causes me to want you more.  Thank you for eyes that see more than they use to and ears that now strain to hear the whisper as well as the thunder.

NEW ROOF

By Lisa Huddleston

Today there is no peace on Hudfarm.  Roofers are here pounding and scraping and shaking the very foundation of my soul.  That Dottie is barking her odd little head off is not a lot of help either.  But, I guess, that’s the way it is when you have to get rid of old stuff that isn’t working anymore.  Even though it was supposed to last for 30 years, and it’s only been 15.  Even then—when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.

So the destruction begins.  Early in the morning so that no one can rest in the past comfort of false security.  Sleeping late under a roof that might at any moment decide to leak right into your warm, soft bed.

Bang! Bang! Bang! And even the pots hanging in the kitchen rattle with alarm accenting Dottie’s sharp, staccato yelps.  I know, Dottie, breaking up is hard to do.

But soon—perhaps even by the end of the day—a new roof will cover this place.  Another promise of 30 years.  We’ll hope for 15.

A QUIET LIFE

By Lisa Huddleston

Shh!  This is a quiet life;

learning to be content,

to carry my own burdens,

to mind after my own business,

to honor Christ with true obedience

in humility, in peace, in self-awareness

and with a focus upon what is good.

Don’t chuck your muck in my dustbin;

 My dustbin’s full.

Look!  Where is Christ at work?

Listen!  What do you hear and heed?

Make it your ambition – a quiet life

Of peace and truth and integrity.

Amen.