The last two weeks have been a collage of memories that have collided with things past.. things now and things future. As I sit here trying to put these events into words.. the full moon is beaming in my window and the pure night air drifts in and it is a comforting feeling. The comfort needed due to the utter weakness felt in my spirit and soothed by the ritual of the night sounds and His creation sounding a much-needed lullaby for my soul.
Maybe it’s the overwhelming realities of life confronting me and my family at this time. It’s been a time of conflicting emotions running around in my head bumping into the feelings long buried in my heart, awakened now for so many reasons.
Last week found me being in the rolling farm land of Southern Indiana where the weather is the most important topic of conversation because it links to crops going in ( and coming out ) to not only be the provision for the farm families involved in planting them but for the livestock to be feed, and the literal breadbasket that we enjoy abundantly in this country.
Mornings where 5:30 AM is the expected rising time and the sound of cows lowing and roosters crowing blends with birds melodies coming in an open window or banging screen door.
Mornings begin where my once agile parents “shuffle ” into the kitchen. The sync of coffee, and breakfast over the “farm report” turned up so loud that my husband got a pair of earplugs to endure the blaring noise of it. Tough way to ease in the day but since they are becoming hard of hearing, it sounds just right to them. So we patiently explain that if you hit the “mute ” button on the remote.. they would not have to keep trying to get the volume to come down but one “hit” and it would be back where they like it. A compromise we sort of negotiated while there. Days when my childhood memories came tumbling back as we drove around the large land townships which make up the county where I grew up. A drive on my father’s 1000 plus acres where instead of the beautiful Holstein dairy cows, calves, heifers and steers there now are natural gas wells and mini gas plants pumping and they are everywhere. They are in-between the hollows , lakes and ponds mixed strangely beside fields where rich dirt is being cultivated and planted. Gone the solitude of these areas now with strangers in trucks who come with this new industry. A new melody in the best of my childhood. North of town the coal mines have taken out the 4th generation family farmhouses built by the German immigrants who came to build the most beautiful of barns, homes and gardens here in the heartland of America. The house of my mothers childhood mowed over by the vast underground mine development and left are the ghosts of hedgerows and a rare grove of trees, or fence running along the lanes. The loss of what used to be there was strong and on a day when my fragile mother wanted to be taken on this ride, she mentions the places and whose family farmhouses and farms are no longer recognizable to the extreme. The melody of the land different now and patched here and there are the places that remain. Back to our small town, where the local restaurant is full of the old and new generations that come for real fellowship. The regulars there swapping stories, political commentary, jokes and the comfort of folks who come in their “work clothes” shoes covered with dirt, the uniform of overalls, and hats advertising the local agricultural vendors covered with dust from plowing. Where when one man or woman gets up, another comes in sits down to join the group eating like family members.
I was there with my husband and parents on “catfish” Friday, when it was all of it you can eat and pies dotting the counter. A true deal of food including the drink and pies with your meal for $6.50. Older ladies who squinted to see me and came over extending hands and hugs of welcome. To them I am the hometown girl come back and embraced with my childhood nickname spoken which made my husband laugh out loud. A community who tipped hats and greeted my mother who made this public visit back into the circle with my husband and I steadying her from the car her cane in toll and seeing her sway as she reached the curb. They had taken up a collection to send flowers during her stay in the hospital. She had a remarkable 25 arrangements sent to her while in the hospital .. this melody of life played out before my eyes through the sound of clinking glasses of tea, forks on pie plates and voices of people I had not thought of for so long…
We travel my husband and I in the car across Amish country which is a county over and the place I remember well. There too are the gas wells but the generations of farms, barns and houses are intact. They comfort me as we pass them, neat as can be. We go to the Amish restaurant where again, I am welcomed for family maiden name, older folks who remember me and one relative who finds out I am speaking at Bethel Church on Sunday and they come to Sunday School just to hear me share. Do I feel like crying about it all , yes I do. Because not only of failing parents who cannot do all they have done but because of the era of America vanishing from the landscape but not the spirit of the people who for the most part don’t lock their houses when gone all day because they know each other near and far…
Then to the cemetery at our family church ” Bethel ” where the carillon bells play at sundown on Saturday night.
A tribute in gift from my parents a melody of life where this rings across the land for a 26-year-old son who died in an accident in 1981 on a picture perfect June day. My brother Doug who is still so beloved.. suddenly is bigger than
life in my memories of him as we see his grave stone among those of family all the way back to 1847 when early family settlers lost loved ones to yellow fever, and hard times.
Roses grace the cemetery, wild roses and the sound of birds chattering in the maple trees that tower in this place.
My Dad is out and about in his pick up truck driving to see what crops are coming up and what fields my older brother had not yet planted. Going without a cell phone nor often telling my mother who is still quite sick where he is going but driven all the same. A sadness in him that was not there before because of the age changes in his body that have changed too his light- hearted personality. He hears a different melody of life now and is interested most fervently to hear the sound of the trumpet — of our Lord. He measures each day with one closer to the rapture. His hope to see Doug again in heaven ever-present daily.
So I rise in the quiet of the house while there .. which has floors that creak and is filled with dust of a much needed cleaning, washing of almost everything in it because my parents cannot do these things anymore. I sit in the moonlight with my laptop and my air card to pull my devotionals and the online Bible. The stillness of the night comes like a friend where my ritual of rising in the 4th watch has me talking to God about the melodies of this life and feeling so out of sorts. I sit and pray for my mother, Dad, folks back home, online friends, staff and children at the ministry in NC that I lead and our own children and grandchildren. Thanking God for the legacy of life and the childhood filled with fields where among the wildflowers and cows.. I knew Jesus as my friend and later as Savior and the Son of our Almighty God. Praying too for my husband’s mother whom was struggling with a body that was becoming weaker and in this night watch knowing He knows my every thought and need. I worship Him there in the moonlight which cuts a shadow across the grain bins standing tall with a harvest to come. The hallelujah of it all resounding the wonder of His ways…
1 Give ear to my words, O LORD,
Consider my meditation.
2 Give heed to the voice of my cry,
My King and my God,
For to You I will pray.
3 My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.
To be continued….