Of Basil and Hope

Grandfather stood by Captain Rodney's open grave and spoke, "'You are dust, and to dust you shall return.' All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."

And there was no mistaking the joy in his voice as he sang those last three words.

A Ring of Endless Light, Madeleine L'Engle

I put the book down, after underlining the passage in pencil. Stacks of basil stalks lay all around me. I was attempting to be industrious and harvest all my basil, pulling leaf after leaf from the stalks. But I had made the mistake of bringing my book outside, and half-way through the work, I entered into a world of bright words.

Plans were in the making for a hopeful move up to ID, and I was so excited. But in the back of my mind, I feared and doubted. My illness likes to catch me at unawares, *and* at the most inconvenient times. And no amount of excitement could calm the fear I had that I might have to stay behind, yet again. That's partially why I chose one of L'Engle's books to read, she always makes me laugh, gives me the ability to laugh at my own fears and embrace light.

Anyway. I came to that passage and couldn't help but be comforted. What kind of hope is this? That we can look at the face of death and sing Alleluia Alleluia?

This glorious hope is as tangible as the basil I held in my hands. I crushed a leaf between my fingers, the fresh smell of basil now surrounding me, like the doubts and fears I had earlier. But now I felt surrounded - and surprised - by hope.

I don't think it's so much knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but the acknowledgment that we have light in the tunnel. And come fear, illness, doubts... we have this hope. The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?


Pieced and Pierced

I felt like Meg (from A Wrinkle In Time). Felt that I could touch the words of the Psalmist, if I just reached out my hand.

Sing unto the Lord a new song, and His praise from the end of the earth... let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory unto the Lord!
It was a glorious Sunday afternoon. Our wonderfully diverse church family had gathered at our pastor's house for lunch. David and Ian (20 something year-olds) jumped on the trampoline with Steven and Leo (nine and eleven year-olds). Pastor John taught MichaelAngelo how to play basketball. Dad talked about the Army, Aunty Debbie served cookies. And the September sun shone down on us.

The week had left its marks on me. My two best friends began college, and I was now officially left behind. Harsh and lonely thoughts imprinted my soul. I didn't have an entirely bleak outlook, but combine circumstances with my naturally melodramatic mind, and I was in pieces. I spent most of Saturday looking at the broken bits on the floor and wondering what could happen next.

But then Sunday came. Pastor/Uncle Pete talked about loving one another and living in light of God's mercy. And those words took on flesh as I looked around this Sunday afternoon. For a moment, Time slipped out the back door. Left us suspended in one another-ing with sun rays and the sweaty faces of laughing children. And as we shared our imperfections and our joys, I felt... whole, pieced together by the love I saw and felt. And joy pierced me.

Let us shout from the top of the mountains. Let us give glory unto the Lord.


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