It’s a perfect August afternoon at the lake. Our little log cabin is cool inside, but I’m out on the porch since the temperature has not risen above 78. Clouds gather white at the tops of the blue mountains . . . then stretch and darken, rumbling every now and then. The pine boughs move, leaves on the Norway Maple flutter and twirl. Not enough wind to hear them speak. There’s only the sound of a motorboat out on the lake and the sprinkler below the porch clickety-clicking with each turn like a little train passing by. Just a few Golden Glow stand tall at the railing, bright boutonnieres against the blue and green. There are usually sheaves of them by now . . . but our spring was long and cold and wet.
Housework waits. Supper is still a mystery, though I have fixings for a few simple things in the fridge. I’m letting the afternoon stretch and morph, like those clouds. My mind is restless with something I can’t yet name.
I slip back a week to the memorial service I attended and to the wedding yesterday . . . They are connected somehow. It has to do with loving well. I know that. As I’ve grown older, it seems that each memorial service becomes a mirror . . . and I don’t always like my reflection. Even though this was not a woman I knew closely, she cast a light that revealed something in me I could not ignore. She loved well. The full church and shared words bore witness to this. I saw how guarded I’ve become inside. How I’ve held on to hurtful remarks and criticisms, carried them around with me, letting them change me. I’ve quit loving without counting the cost. Somewhere along the way I decided the cost was too high. I’m not talking about my children or husband or family. I am blessed, literally, beyond measure. I’m talking about those in the outer rings of this concentric circle of relationships. I’ve let their words and attitudes towards me matter. Sometimes my brother offers wise words. “Would you have done it any differently, even if you’d known how it would turn out?” My heart wasn’t soft enough to answer that.
When my youngest granddaughter was in grade school and we would visit the school for pickup or a program . . . one of the teachers or staff would surely say, “Are you ___’s mom (grandma)? We just love her!” She would hug anyone who needed it, adults and students alike, seek out the lonely or quiet, twirl her friend around in his wheelchair while he waited for the bus, and just let her little light shine. When it was time for her to move up to middle school, her big sister offered helpfully, “Now, you don’t have to hug everybody in middle school.” I used to be more like her.
The wedding celebration cast this same light, with the same result. I witnessed joy, hearts wide open for all to see . . . as vulnerable as baby birds in an outstretched palm. I heard beautiful words of promise and affirmation spoken to each member of the newly-joined family, and tokens offered from pure, yes brave, hearts. I love you and will keep loving you, no matter what. It touched me . . . schooled me.
Yes, a memorial service or a wedding celebration can be a mirror. And sometimes it can be a still small voice . . . Will we hear it? And if we do, how will we answer?
Then He said (to Elijah) “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, and after the fire a still small voice. (I Kings 19:11-13) . . . Then the prophet covered his face and went to the mouth of the cave and stood to listen, for the still small voice had won the solemn attention of his soul. (Charles Spurgeon)