Dark. Green.

I told y’all from the start that this was a messy place for when we haven’t quite figured out this tension of living on this side of Eternity. That I would come here to mention things occasionally. It’s not really a soap-box and I’m obviously not in it for the followers (especially since I work in Marketing and literally haven’t written a blog in two months, so I should know better.)

But I also don’t want to write raw. I don’t want to pull a band-aid off of something that needs to be covered up to heal, but sometimes it comes off for a moment to re-dress the wound. In this case, that’s what I’ve been feeling. Still in the process of healing, but also able to re-dress for a moment while y’all are in the room.

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The other evening, I was looking out the window of my house at the green-ness of the backyard at twilight. It’s been stormy lately and it has led me to have a very muddy sort of yard. This is maybe some of my favorite weather because I get to throw on layers and a baseball cap and a rain jacket and my New England boots. I get to feel the water in the air and smell the vapor on the leaves. That is, perhaps, how these days have felt: dark and green.

So first, the Dark. I don’t have to describe it much, just like you don’t need to look at my wound too long. I imagine we’re having a chat by the fire and I get to the actual part of pulling off the old bandage and you look away for a second because it’s a little too real. In life, real things happen and there’s no poetry, or maybe there is but I can’t seem to make it rhyme yet. So here goes.

My grandfather got very sick very suddenly. There’s no way around that.
I went down every weekend to be there. To read with him. To ask him what year he joined the Navy. To help him sit up and comb his hair and watch him fade.
There’s no way around that.
I listened to his breathing rattle and we had a very clear last moment together and he woke up one evening in the presence of Jesus, no longer frail.

There’s no way around that.

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You can look again–the most terrible parts are covered up.

These days have been dark as I threw myself into work and into the car and through the hills of Tennessee and across the border to Alabama. I stopped having to GoogleMap the town my grandmother lives in; I memorized her breakfast order. And not a day goes by that I don’t just ache over what has happened.

It was so dark.

My lungs have been acting up from asthma and allergies. And when I cough I hate how clear my lungs sound.

A few days after he passed away, I went to a favorite place of mine so sacred I don’t even want to give it a name in case someone reading wants to make it their own. I am selfish about it. Oh, well.

As I drove down a dirt road in the Nameless Town, it led me to a wildlife preserve. I navigated potholes and wandered further into emptiness and alone-ness. I passed an old flag that hung in the woods, marking a civil war cemetery that has been forgotten for decades.  I slowly crawled past a field freshly plowed that smelled fresh and true. And then, a side road caught my eye. It was too muddy to navigate, but I was wearing my boots so I quietly got out of the car. I could hear nothing but my own breathing as I stumbled across an grain field, right in the middle of woods. My fingers reached out to touch the field as if it was, itself, magic. After a fresh rain it was almost sparking there in front of me, so fresh and green.

IMG_1028I thought about that scene from Gladiator where he’s walking in fields of grain. And I thought about my grandfather and how a box of his photos were sitting in my car, ready to turn into a video slideshow for the day we would bury him the following week.

It was so green.

God hasn’t spoken anything over me that connects these experiences in seamless poetry– Awe and Grief. Nothing wraps up nicely. Things feel like tracking in mud on a stormy day; inevitable and something we’ll take care of after we take our boots off.

I can still see him sitting in the chair by the window of that hospital room, watching the sunset as he tells me about flying over the midwest all those years ago as a pilot. I see us there, telling stories, watching the evening come. I’m sitting on the floor of the hospital room in front of him. Far enough to give space, close enough to catch him if he wavers.

And I still see that field in the days after he left. Even now, my eyes wander to a distant place and start to well up. I see the sacredness of standing alone in the woods before a field that hardly anyone knows is growing.

IMG_1042I see the dark and the green.

The struggle and the growth.

The death and the new life.

Things keep moving. We keep commuting through Nashville. I’ll drive to Alabama tomorrow afternoon and I’ll probably cry as I pass those fields. I’ll cry for the ways that growing up is so sweet and hard and powerful and quiet.

He rises to meet us in the sunrise and the with the rainfall. He rises to meet us as we stand graveside in the heat of late afternoon and 21 shots are fired and the flag is folded. He rises to meet us in a mysterious field as the Alabama mud sticks to our boots. He rises to meet us as we catch a vision of the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
There’s no way around that.

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4 Comments on “Dark. Green.

  1. Beautiful post! I am so sorry for the loss of your grandfather! I am praying for you and all of the family–especially your grandma.

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  2. the mud on our boots prove that the journey continues, we take those before us with as we are to meet someone else who is waiting there, just for us.

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing this! I am currently experiencing my own taste of grief and never seem to have the words to explain to others how I am doing. I connect so much to your words and imagery. Thank you, and praying for you!

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