The road has not been plowed. We park the truck and trek through the snow. The wind has drifted it and the snow is deeper than my LLBeans. It is a cold, white world where the bare trees make black shadows. Below us the lake is a deep, deep blue. It has only a scrim of ice around the edges. The water ripples in the wind. The sun makes a golden road across the water, and around the golden road there are millions of sun diamonds. They glitter and dance with the ripples. Up here it is quiet. So quiet we can hear the memories. When you are surrounded by noise and busyness, you can hardly hear memories.
We remember fishing in the rain. Smoking salmon in the PNW. Steaks in the moonlight. El Caminos. Peterbuilts. Stories in the sugar house. Oranges on Christmas morning. The laughter of many children. Nights in the fur shack. Gallons of coffee. Ash trays, heaped up. 50 years can make a whole lot of memories.
But most of all, we remember you.
Monday, October 16, 2017
Some days are like a picture. Some days are music. Some days are poetry. And some days are a story. Every once in while you get that perfect October day that is all of them. A picture of blue sky and blue water and all the colors of fall. You know why they call it fall, don't you? The leaves fall. The pine needles fall. The acorns fall. The apples fall. They all fall. A vagabond wind sings through the trees. The music is the swish and crackle and the drum beat is the nuts and the apples. The sunlight filters through the trees and every thing is suffused with gold. The water is flecked sun diamonds.
This day was all that. And it was a story day, too. I think all days are story days. But mostly we don't listen.
It used to be a junk shop. Not a cute name for a vintage store. Oh, no. This was the real thing. The building was junk. The roof leaked and most of the windows were boarded up. The stairs were rickety. And, it was full of junk. Piled high every where, with small paths here and there. There was no way you could ever get to see all the junk, much less buy any of it. Even the proprietor was rather junky. He sat glumly on a junky stool, like he was waiting for the place to collapse and be done. None the less, we always stopped there if the flag was out when we were going by. Then it was closed for a long time. We wondered what had become of all the junk.
This day, much to our surprise, a flag was flying and the door was open and we pulled in. A man was busily sawing and measuring, but he cordially invited us in. It was amazing. It was beautiful. It was perfect. Not the kind of perfect where you have to take off your shoes and speak in hushed voices. The kind of perfect that said, "Come in." The kind that spoke of years gone by, and life and living. Open to the day, mellow with time. Boards and beams that said, "We have been here. We welcome you back."
He said he was Jessi. His muscles rippled under his coffee colored skin. His hands were strong and gentle. He wore a bandana over his hair, pulled back in a pony tail. He had on a carpenters apron. His face was lined. He spoke with a slow, southern accent. Shut your eyes, now and listen.
" I grew up in South Carolina. Low country. I never knew my father. My sister and I were raised by my grandparents. I rarely saw my mother. It was good. Grandmother was loving and grandfather was the boss. But my grandfather was sick. He had tuberculosis and cancer. One day, when I was thirteen, I was sitting at the table doing my homework in the evening. My grand father came in the kitchen and as he walked behind me, he placed his hand on my shoulder and squeezed gently. I was surprised, because he never did anything affectionate like that. And he said to me, real quietly, " It's going to be all right." I was puzzled, but shrugged it off and had forgotten about it by the next morning when I went off to school. But when I came home on the bus I saw that there were police and ambulances and all kinds of commotion. My grandmother had heard one shot, and she knew what had happened.
It was all right. Life went on. I finished school. I went to New York City. I got married and had two beautiful children. When my mother was dying she sent for me, and I went. I told her it was all right. I didn't have to know why she did what she did. I had had a good life with my grandparents. I saw that every thing happens for a reason. Life goes the way it is supposed to. No one should fret over the way things go.
After 9 11 I couldn't stay in New York any more, so I moved up here to New Hampshire. I thought it would be all right. But we got divorced and I lost every thing. Now I'm starting over. And it is all right. I was supposed to have my marriage, even if it didn't last, because other wise I wouldn't have those two beautiful children. That was the reason. You can't fret. You have to keep on living and see what comes next. Now I found this falling down building. The town had condemned it. But I cleared it out and I refinished it. And its my home and my business and its beautiful and its all right."
We shook hands and promised to come back. We rode quietly for a while, letting it all sink in. Thank you for a story day!
Sunday, May 7, 2017
I have been thinking about those four little words. " I go a fishing." John 21:3.
These men have just lived through a horrible time. They are scared. They just lost their friend to a horrible death. They feel lost. So many things have happened, they don't know what to think or do. So Peter says. " I go a fishing." And his friends went, too, out in the boat all night long. They are cold and tired and hungry. Their faith has wavered.They have caught no fish. But at sunrise, they see a warm glow on the shore, and the fragrance of fish frying comes wafting across the water. Jesus beckons them to come to shore. Their nets fill up with fish. How welcome is that moment. This is one of many times Jesus has broke bread and fishes with the multitudes.
Now. We have the same Jesus. When we are afraid and cold and hungry and our faith is gone. When the nights are too long and our hearts are broken. Look to the far shore. Jesus has sent us out those friends who have taken the time to gather drift wood and build up a fire and tend it until it becomes a bed of coals. They have fried us some fish and bread and asked us to come to the warmth. There we are fed and warmed and we hear the gospel and our faith is renewed.
Have we humbled our selves to be one of those messengers? Are we too clean and good to walk out in the sand and dirty our feet and clothing and hands? Too busy to go out before dawn and find those fishermen with empty nets? We don't have to do miracles or preach sermons. all we have to do is be there. working with our hands and hearts to bring comfort to our fellow man.