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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Already. Almost

Today began with death.

Actually, it began like any other normal weekday. I got up at the same time as any other normal weekday. I let the dog out, like any other normal weekday, at the same time. I wonder sometimes if any of my neighbors know my routine.

But unlike any other normal weekday, this morning there was a guest in the backyard. A small, gray, harmless guest, likely nibbling the clover that grows in patches back there where once there was a lovely, manicured sod--for a little while.

I can't help but imagine her so peacefully nipping and chewing in the quiet, placid setting of early morning, before the houses wake up, one electrical light at a time; before the dawn. With its fences around it, our backyard must feel safe to the little things. That's probably why she came.

But at precisely 6:15am, like every other normal weekday morning, I opened the kitchen door and let the dog out back. She was gone in a flash, like every other normal weekday morning.

I heard the rabbit scream even through the closed doors and windows. Scream and scream. She had not been quick enough to make it through the wire fence at the back before she was caught.

With bare feet and wet head, I went into that darkness to help but I couldn't get the dog off. I had to get a shovel and use it as a barrier between the dog's chest and the fence to pull her back enough to get her to let go.

I'd like to say the day got better. It didn't get worse, but as People of the Redemption, don't we get impatient to see evidence of that redemption right away? I wanted something in this day to fix the horrific way it started.

By mid-day, I was just too restless to keep plugging at the parent and teacher resources I was writing, my mind a flood of memory and sound and ineffable sadness. If I could grab it, name it, I could conquer it, right? And move beyond it? But no. It's there. The reality that things die, and sometimes for no good reason.

So I took a walk.

I do so most days, past the Cathedral of All Souls. Past the shops and empty benches. Over the warpy, hazardous brick sidewalks that I love, even if they are treacherous and will one day likely take me down.

It was breezy and cool and nothing in the familiar setting made me feel enveloped or safe this time. It just felt cold. Empty. Quiet. The church bells didn't ring on this walk. There wasn't even traffic to wait for at the crosswalks. My own reflection in the shop window at the yoga gear store was the only pedestrian I met. In the distance, there was a siren. Punctuation, it seemed to be, on the sentence written this morning: There's always an emergency somewhere in this world of dire need.

I passed the Christmas shop, like I always do, but this time I stopped before reaching the Corner Kitchen. That was it, wasn't it? That was what I needed.

I needed Christmas.

I do hope the women who work in that shop don't get jaded by selling there year 'round. They didn't seem to be today, which is good, because I needed to be greeted with exactly the welcoming cheer they offered. Do they realize they aren't simply offering trinkets, but the artifacts that will be the vehicles of generations of memories, handed down even unconsciously through families that may be strangers to them always, binding hope and love and relationships to the most important hinge in the history of the world?

I wandered among all the baby Jesuses, letting it sink in. Everything there exists because of one absolute truth: God came down. Light shone in the darkness. Death is ended. Love wins.

The words PEACE and JOY are repeated on the shelves and the walls, in frames and painted onto baubles, hanging from the ceiling and knit into clothing and stockings and blanket throws. PEACE, Rebecca. JOY, Rebecca. He came. It is finished.

There's no way to accept that he had to come without seeing the darkness that he came into. And some days are like this--characterized by the experience of the darkness. That I am not feeling the redemption does not negate it though.

He came down.

It is written.

There's a nativity in that store that looks just like the one my grandmother always set out at Christmas time, on the hearth she never used otherwise. I stopped and stood there, remembering her. Remembering happy childhood memories. Remembering promises made long ago. She's gone ahead of me. So has my mother. The childhood I wished for my own children has had far much more pain in it than I ever imagined. I can't give them the good that I would have, if I had the power. The days don't have to start with a literal death of some small, innocent, gentle thing to bring with them the burden of how absolutely tainted everything is...

But God... in his mercy...

Who willingly goes into dark places, into death?

Only the one who cares about the perishing more even than his own comfort. And oh, you and I... we are so much more to him than that tiny bunny was to me. I ran, on horizontal ground, but he came, headlong, downward into the very midst of all the suffering and sin and division and war of the ages, with his face set like stone toward the one and only solution and gave himself into it, so that one day, all we will know is redemption.

PEACE, and courage, and joy today... Already. Almost.

1 comment:

glenwied said...

Like you, I am glad for His coming and for your sweet childhood memories. I forget how beautifully you write.