A certain kind of Eden holds us thrall. Even the one vine that tendrils out alone in time turns on its own impulse, twisting back down its upward course a strong and then a stronger rope, the greenest saddest strongest kind of hope. ~Kay Ryan from “A Certain Kind of Eden”from Flamingo Watching
This is the season for entwining enchantment.
Simply walking out in the garden in the morning, the tendrils are reaching out and grabbing onto my shirt and my jeans. If I stood still for an hour, they would be wrapping up my legs and clinging to my arms. There I would be, held hostage by these insistent vines for the duration of the season.
There are worse fates: a verdant Garden is exactly where we were placed to begin with.
The vines that don’t find a grab-hold, end up bending back onto themselves, curling back down the ladder they just created, sometimes knotting themselves into a nest. They wind up and down in nothingness and sadly cannot hold fast enough to be fruitful except creeping along the ground itself.
May there always be Someone Solid to cling to, to wrap around, to hold fast. May we once again know the glories of His Garden.
My farm work gloves look beat up after a year of service. They keep me from blistering while forking innumerable loads of smelly manure into wheelbarrows, but also help me unkink frozen hoses, tear away blackberry vines from fencing, pull thistle from the field and heavy hay bales from the haymow. Over the years, I’ve gone through several dozen gloves, which have protected my hands as I’ve cleaned and bandaged deep wounds on legs and hooves, pulled on foals during the hard contractions of difficult births, held the head of dying animals as they sleep one final time.
Without my work gloves over the years, my hands would be full of rips and holes from the thorns and barbs of the world, sustaining scratches, callouses and blisters from the hard work of life.
But they aren’t scarred and wounded.
Thanks to these gloves, I’m presentable for my “day” work as a doctor where I don a different set of gloves many times a day.
The gloves don’t tell the whole story of my gratitude.
I’m thankful to a Creator God who doesn’t need to wear gloves when He goes to work in our world.
Who gathers us up even when we are dirty, smelly, and unworthy.
Who eases us into this life when we are vulnerable and weak,
and carries us gently home as we leave this world, weak and vulnerable.
Who holds us as we bleed from self and other-inflicted wounds.
Who won’t let us go, even when we fight back, or try not to pay attention, or care who He is.
And who came to us
with hands like ours~
tender, beautiful, easy to wound hands
because He didn’t need to wear gloves~
Many a night I woke to the murmur of paper and knew (Dad) was up, sitting in the kitchen with frayed King James – oh, but he worked that book; he held to it like a rope ladder. Leif Enger in Peace Like a River
Some nights are like that. The footing underneath is loose and my feet are slipping. I have the distinct feeling of plummeting while lying completely still in bed. I feel the need to grab hold of something, anything, in order to avoid free falling… to what? to where? My dream is so vivid, the sudden descent so visceral, I wake sweating with my heart racing.
So I grab fast to the Word –a woven rope of faith– frayed though it may be with nicks and scars and scorches, meant for clinging for safety. It is a ladder to security, challenging to ascend, difficult to hold on to without accumulating blisters and scrapes along the way. The going is tough, sometimes too daunting for my limitations. The familiar ground below appears farther and farther away.
So I keep going, hand over hand, page over page, word beside word. There is only up now. It is the only way.