return to hope

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I’ve always had a vein of vagabond in my blood.

I’m happy then, on weekends like these, when I get to follow the Sunday preacher to God knows where.  He made sure we left in plenty of time.  That’s the kind of man he is–a good one.  He’s one who keeps a steady job, a steady face, and a steady eye upon the road.  When we missed the sign I was supposed to be watching for and had to turn around, he told me again, this is why it’s good to leave in plenty of time to be a half an hour early.

It’s not that I’ve fought him on this, exactly.  It’s just my heartbeat doesn’t work this way. I don’t suppose my brain does either.  Even years before kids I was the one running behind.  I knew no other way of life.  There may have been somewhere to go but there was always somewhere else to go first before getting there.  If I was late for Spanish class again it was only because someone had cried when there was no more milk for cereal again.

Excuses, excuses, I know, I’m full of them.  It’s a trait only of late I’ve been able to see.  It all turned out okay though.  We found our way to Waverly and went our separate ways.  He disappeared behind the sacristy door to feed the sheep while I guided our ducks to the tiny lake of crimson rows.  Little by little people trickled in.  You think I’m just saying little to say little but I’m not.  Not counting us there were twelve souls in all, God bless them.

One of the souls was Aunt Dorothy.  She sat down beside me as I motioned for the little ones to scootch it down a notch to the left.  This wasn’t the first time we’d been here.  Six months earlier we’d traveled to this very spot for a family funeral.  Great Uncle Orville, Aunt Dorothy’s late husband, was the family carpenter.  I’ve never known a man who had such a way with wood.  He often used his time to carve out Jesus for the children.

I asked Aunt Dorothy how she’d been doing.  Technically the service hadn’t started yet. This was their organist’s one Sunday off a month and the computer in the overflow room still had to be hooked up to the online substitute organ program.  This is what I love about old and faithful churchgoers.  She didn’t feel the need to hide her true feelings about all this.  She freely told her bitter sadness over buried husbands and dying churches.

Truth is, she hadn’t been coming to church much either, not since Orville died.  He would be here.  This bothered her too.  She’d been off her pain killers now for months.  “I’ve lost my crutch”, she paused, “But Jesus is all I need.”  For no other reason had she gotten herself up and dressed and out the door this morning than to hear her great-nephew guest preacher.  It was the least she could do to honor her husband who would have had it no other way.

It occurred to me then, though the words of the widow, this common familial thread we all shared.  I went to church because he had to.  I shuffled between restless brothers and purple crayons and wrestled with my broken crutches and the man in the pulpit turning my world upside down with this Jesus he would talk about so much, because my children’s father was a man of faith and home and family and I am the wife of a rare man in this age-

The kind of man who firmly believes in something.

 

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