A Light in the House

photo by Nate Gibson

Today one of my favorite writers about life on the farm, Verlyn Klinkenborg in the New York Times Opinion Pages, muses about sometimes forgetting to turn the light off in the barn and making the trek in the dark to shut it off. I wish I’d written this:

“Usually, after turning out that forgotten barn light, I sit on the edge of the tractor bucket for a few minutes and let my eyes adjust to the night outside. City people always notice the darkness here, but it’s never very dark if you wait till your eyes owl out a little….I’m always glad to have to walk down to the barn in the night, and I always forget that it makes me glad. I heave on my coat, stomp into my barn boots and trudge down toward the barn light, muttering at myself. But then I sit in the dark, and I remember this gladness, and I walk back up to the gleaming house, listening for the horses. “

A Light in the Barn

My favorite thing about walking up from the barn at night is looking at the lights glowing in our house, knowing there is life there, even though each child has flown away to distant cities. There is love there as Dan and I rediscover our new “alone” life together. There are still future years there, as many as God grants us to stay on the farm. It is home and it is light and if all it takes is a walk from a dark barn to remind me, I’ll leave the lights on in the barn at night more often.

Thank you, Verlyn, once again, for helping me see in the dark…

The Rhythm of Remembrance

Vietnam Women Veteran's Memorial

“For in self-giving, if anywhere, we touch a rhythm not only of all creation but of all being.”
C.S. Lewis

I’m unsure why the United States does not call November 11 Remembrance Day as the rest of the Commonwealth nations did after WWI. This is a day that demands much more than the more passive name Veterans’ Day represents.

This day calls all citizens who appreciate their freedoms to stop what they are doing and disrupt the routine rhythm of their lives. We are to remember in humble thankfulness the generations of military veterans who sacrificed time, resources, sometimes health and well being, and too often their lives in answering the call to defend their countries.

Remembrance means never forgetting what it costs to defend freedom. It means acknowledging the millions who have given of themselves and continue to do so on our behalf. It means never ceasing to care. It means a commitment to provide resources needed for the military to remain strong. It means unending prayers for safe return home to family. It means we hold these men and women close in our hearts, always teaching the next generation about the sacrifices they made.

Most of all, it means being willing to become the sacrifice if called.

Calling Me Home

Photo of children running home in Basque, France by William Albert Allard

I had pulled away, testing how far a connection could stretch, not always thinking of how the tug of resistance felt on the other end. What had been a pulsing vital conduit instead felt withering and restricting, so I sought eagerly to move beyond its reach.

It is turbulent out there without ties and tethers as anchors in the storm. There is hunger and thirst when roots have been pulled out and exposed. There is chill without the sustenance of hearthfire. It is lonely without the enveloping bonds of nurture within a sanctuary of love.

When I heard the call, I knew the time had come to return home. And so I ran, skipping, jubilant, eager, ready, almost weightless in my anticipation of a joyful reunion.

Ghost Shadows of Summer

In mid-autumn
the dying still grip
firmly to life-
stem to branch,
branch to trunk,
trunk to roots in the ground.

Then October turns the page
and November
winds blow in
drenching rain.
Storm swept
leaves loosen
in animated tumble,
a tousled chlorophyll

Float disconnected
to soil, pond
and sidewalk,
settling flat,
to mark the spot
like an epitaph
until raked together
into composting piles.

Disembodied imprints
of ghostly leaft-overs–
veins and rib, lobes and tip.
Shadows of summer
remembered, treasured,
now lost to the wind
and rain of autumn.