In a creaking house for family feasting, I sat as summer light streamed through leadlight doors and cracks in curtains, fairy lights twinkling on pine tree while I rocked my youngest, disrupted by the change of place, his older brother’s noise and the stubborn light, and tried to make a darkness conducive to an eight-month child’s much-needed sleep, and fancied the Father keeping vigil by my fretful side neither slumbering nor sleeping until true day arrives.
…heaven cannot hold him, Nor earth sustain; Heaven and earth shall flee away When he comes to reign… (Christina Rossetti, “In the Bleak Midwinter”)
While fires burned, I retreated to safer, internal climes, denying heat. Discomfort seemed unreasonable, inconvenient that we should be so troubled. Yet world rarely does as it’s told, pointing a finger at us as we point back at it. If world won’t be bullied, how much less so God who bursts mightier than fire and shakes out our smug contentment with the mountains and the stars. If earth will melt, how much more our pride when kingdom comes in blaze, in goodness?
A nomad for much of my days, I confess
the urge is strong now to stay put, to secure,
to gather and store,
to extend the barns for the coming drought.
Where luxurious waste gathers in wardrobes and pantries, I long
to play the rich fool and leave it be.
Yet still the cloud gets up each day
and leads me to I-don’t-know-where,
and we who have been baptised in Red Sea and cloud
must pack up our chattels and keep our hands empty
with everything but covenant open to loss
and the homes we’ve not built set before us.
You shall turn again to earth. (Christina Rossetti, “For Advent”)
Before leaving for our new home, we take the last year’s compost and distribute rich, fermenting soil across our garden bed, while lawn – parched from summer – longs weakly for green. I too am parched and though made of mud I cannot rest in dirt until the heat is passed. And so I long for earth to reform, reconstitute my barren bones and take dead seed to make things new again. Moving always, I crave endless home, crave dwelling beneath Your rain.
The sun beating heavily on our heads, we felt the agony of things straining against themselves, felt the longing but not the reward and grew weary of the day.
When I spoke, it was gravel in my throat. “Show me,” I demanded, “the length of these days. Show me the end.” And the sun did not relent in its frenzied beaming while the aching rhythm in my joints was murmuring, “Soon. His time is soon.”
The bed decked in a week’s laundry, and
a million miniscule things left undone,
Sleep still says, “Rest your weary head.
The day is long, tomorrow longer,
and after that who knows.
For now, this minute, lie down.
In chaos, be still.”
So I am still,
and the chaos does not overwhelm me,
and the chaos will not overwhelm.