By Lisa Huddleston

11710000_10207014882917226_657832549666094067_oI love living on a Century Farm here in Middle Tennessee. It is green and private and lovely, but there are occasional drawbacks. It’s hard to find a good restaurant that’s worth paying for anywhere nearby, it’s a very long drive on the Interstate to many of the events we choose to attend—including our church—but one of the worst things about living here happens when the young man who owns the cattle who share this farm with us takes away the older calves to sell.

The mommas are just pitiful. They holler all day and all night—and I can only imagine how bad the calves feel. Separation from those we love really sucks, kind of like a calf on an udder or an udder that misses its calf.

Anyway, today there was a big, black cow looking directly at me over the back fence while I drank my morning coffee on the porch. She bawled and looked. Bawled and looked. I really felt guilty as though she thought I knew where her baby was and if she just asked nicely enough I would return it. To make matters even worse, old Dottie Pigbody had to get into the act by ferociously barking at the grieving mother and running her off.

No, I don’t make a good farmer, and, yes, I cried. And that experience set my mind off and running down a sad trail.

11227401_10207349081111972_7173172355244987238_oNext, I saw the bright, red cardinal who daily frequents our bird feeders—most often with his less colorful mate. I imagined one saying to the other, “Where would you like to have brunch today?” and then flying in to light on the chosen feeder. I told Chuck that it makes me sad to see birds who are always with mates because I worry that something will happen to one of them and then the other will grieve. He laughed and said, “Well, let’s just shoot both of them now then and get it over with.”

Of course, my tender-hearted husband was just kidding, but part of me agreed with that plan. Wouldn’t it be better to take them out together? I sure don’t want to hang around if Chuck goes before me.

And that is part of my problem. (“Aha,” you say. “We definitely knew you had one!”) I see everything through a filter of impending death and separation. Sad but true. The beauty of spring inevitably leads to winter. The puppy you fall in love with turns gray before you turn around. The kids you plan and hope for grow up and move out. People leave and seasons end and everything eventually fades.

My therapist laughs when I tell her that I know I’m the one with depression, but I really think it’s everyone else who is suffering from delusions. My preoccupation with death is only realistic thinking. If you’re living, you’re dying, and vice versa.

11887989_10207341387999649_4245004405750835629_nSome days this truth helps me to appreciate the value found in moments. Beauty in a golden leaf hanging suspended on the breeze for seconds before gently floating to the ground. White clouds in blue skies. Calves skipping and playfully butting heads. Unexpected fish fries that bring the kids home. Countless millions of things for which I am truly thankful, but which also carry with them the knowledge that too soon they will be over.

No pretty bow or cherry on top of this post. Just my observations.

I see you, sad Momma Cow, as you look to me for answers, and my heart goes out to you because I have none. Hopefully new babies will be born to you soon, and I pray that you will not see what’s coming.


By Lisa Huddleston



Breathe in and the machinery whirs to life

Inspiration and expiration too

Letters and syllables and words and stories

Notes and phrases and melodies and songs

Symbols of life and breath but not life itself

Evidence of life one life all life lived out

Inhaled and exhaled

Until as expected but not really all breath runs out

And only the symbols remain

A legacy not of breath but of

Stories and songs



1277243_10201893710251110_1529264531_oBy Lisa Huddleston

Sometimes painfully bright moments of piercing clarity cut through the mundane moments of my life. Epiphanies. Icy cold splashes of truth. Acid that eats holes in the fabric of the ordinary.

In these pinpoints of recognition, I cannot avoid the truth that life is very, very brief and often very, very hard. Yes, I know–life is also very, very beautiful. Yes, yes, it is painfully beautiful! Yet from the moment we are born, the math is against us. While we think we are adding, time is ticking and subtracting from us the things that we suppose will be always ours.

Born naked, we are wrapped in cloth that moths will eat and arms that worms will consume. Born soft and vulnerable, we build exoskeletons of stuff that rust promises to destroy. Even the tents of our flesh will each in its turn one day mold and disappear. “Life is so meaningless!” this moment screams. And it honestly feels that way in the cornea-burning blast of epiphanal light.

But spirit remains. Spirit lives on. Set free and once again naked and poor, our spirits return to the Spirit that inspires all life. And that is what all the losing, all the letting go is about–right, God? A freeing of spirit to a spacious place where we no longer are about addition or subtraction, or getting and spending, or the wasting of time. Isn’t that the truth? God, let that be the truth.

Then the blessed clouds pass over the sun. Our pupils return to normal diameters and the comfort of normalcy numbs our knowing into unknowing. And mostly we can forget–until the next time the sky splits.