there are briers overgrown on certain points of our path.
every family has its faults.
the farmer rises early and sets to the chores in the barn, shows kindness to his animals, raises intelligent children.
hard work. cheerful hearts. genuine prayers.
we drive an hour out of the city and spend a morning at the farm.
my children watch a video as we travel in our minivan. it’s bill nye, the science guy, telling how the earth spins at a tilt. about how the globe hangs slanted and how those 23.4 degrees are responsible for the seasons and the weather we endure with each rotation.
my children have eyes on the screen and learn about what the children of farmers learn in their bones.
a simple life in the fear of god.
at the end of our time abe climbs in the van, a smudge of pink ice cream on his gorgeous face.
“that was the best day at calder’s ever!”
they know this farm. these are the barns that they have stomped. barns we don’t own or work, but belong to us.
down the back roads home, back to the city, i see a woman sitting on her riding mower. her white hair patient way as our lone vehicle stops her. she is waiting to cross over. she owns the land on the other side, too. she pours out her days, her life, on the landscape. i wonder about how i spill my days.
we pass a country graveyard and i pull in to take pictures.
“i know that! it’s a cross!”
eleanor is learning.
and because you’re never too young to think about it, i say –
“everyone dies guys. one day we will all be in a cemetery somewhere. and the reason you see so many crosses in cemeteries is because jesus is the only person in the history of the whole world who died and came back to life. he’s the only one.”
three pairs of eyes stare at me. the video player is off now. sunshine makes the blues and yellows and greens of this morning roll and sing life around us.
“he showed us that death isn’t the end of the story, that there is more to this life. and we don’t know what that looks like yet, but we will.”
i quiet now. let that be enough. we start to leave the graveyard and abe responds –
“one day we’ll even see god.”
i pause, heart pinned up to the blue sky clouds.
“that’s right, abe. that’s right.”
we drive out and find the slow curves of empty roads that lead back to the straight, busy ones. we pour our lives out on the city.
a long time ago, back before mazzy was put in my arms, i sat on the shores of lake michigan and i prayed for children. i promised god then that i would show them wide open spaces.
that was my promise.
so we travel to the spaces that mirror the wide open places inside the human heart. i will help them learn that there is more to this life than the city.
and then we drive home, back to the city, so they will know that god loves people more. more than fields and beasts and farms and trees. he loves people the most. we drive to the city so i can help them learn that there is more to life than wide open spaces.