Whispers

The leaves here whisper and call through the windows. Wind came three nights ago and tried to carry the leaves and their unearthly words away, but it could not prevail. They are stubborn for dying things. I think if I were that close to dead and the wind came to take me away, I’d go – even if I didn’t want to, I’d go. They’re dipped in bronze too – the leaves that talk in tongues. And they shine and whisper to me from outside the kitchen window as I peel sweet potatoes. I smile at their whisperings for a second and keep peeling – gentle scraping the earthy skin off. Then I cut them. In the near silence, my mind digs and winds in circles.

I think of slavery, of how it’s still happening, of how girls are swept up, deteriorated, and never really put back.

And I cut deeper.

I think of myself, of how strange it is to suddenly not know who you are, of how long it takes to remember – and relearn.

Push harder.

I think of how I thought things would look. And how they really look. And how different the two are.

To break the potato into pieces small enough to cook down and consume.

I think of orphans and how much it must hurt to be alone like that. How much it must hurt to not know the beautiful truth of who you really are.

The knife smacks the cutting board and the sound echoes – hard.

I retrace conversations. Retrace the words I spoke and didn’t speak. The words they spoke.

Music is playing in the next room. And it fills me, like the hard echo of the knife. Fills me from deep down, and I feel like crying. But I don’t.

I think of how the Israelites had to relearn how to live.

I take an onion from counter and work the knife through that – it glides, easy. The onion’s potency stings my eyes and a single tear forces its way through the stinging to remedy it. And it feels good from the same deep down that the music fills, as it falls.

I finish the potatoes and onions and move to the room where the music plays. I let the swirling, filled-ness, overwhelm, overtake me. And I rest in its beauty. Its torn. Its heavy. Its promise.

We gather around the table, hold hands, thank God, and eat. Forks clink. We sigh in contentment. And I thank God again. And again. In the smiling stillness, the whispering leaves can be heard, “this is good.”

I realized the other day that I’m broken. And it’s okay that I don’t really know who I am right now – even if I did know before. It’s okay because Jesus came. He came and lived and was real and touchable and smellable and spoke with sometimes-breaking human voice, like me. So he could teach me how to live.

And then he died. So the curtain could be torn, and he could hold me and I could see him, he died.

Right before he died, he set meals aside for knowing. So we can taste the bitter. And we can know him the way a wife knows a husband. Because the invitation to eat his flesh and drink his blood, is an invitation  to know his pain – an invitation of deepest intimacy. When you love someone, and you can clearly see they ache, deeply, purely ache, don’t you want to know that ache with them – for them? Don’t you want to understand? Communion – the bread, the wine, or, the left over Challah, the water – is knowing that ache.

And then he rose.

He laughs, Jesus. I forget that he’s a joyful being. I forget that when music fills me and though it’s joyful, it hurts and wakens, that it’s good.  Until I eat and drink and I feel him – here, right here. He made meals for remembering. For knowing, and remembering.

Remembering, that he rose so I could get better. So my soul could stop its relentless coughing and sputtering. So the fever could break, and my thought could be clear and pure. And I could be whole.  And be swept up into the joy that is Father, Son, and Spirit here, right here. And so we could walk together. And so as we walk together, we could make others better too; because he came – he was fleshed out and here, right here.

And when his flesh went home – to our home, the one he’s getting ready for me – he left his spirit, to remind me.  He left his spirit to fill up meals and make them deep communion, where we know one another’s hurt. He left his spirit to shake the leaves of precious metal that wouldn’t be taken by the wind to remind me that “this is good.” When it’s hard and the cut won’t come quick enough, and I don’t want it anyway, “this is good.” When the break is smooth, but leaves me raw, “this is good.”

I’m in my room now, my window is open, and my curtain dances in the wind, pushes up against me as if to invite me into the wild adventure it knows. Then it breathes gently, whispering with the leaves, “this is good. because I am good.”

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