July twilight and my brother shows up at the back door.
My brother!. All man. Still boy. Still freckles. Still that tugging grin tugging at me.
“So.” He rubs his hands like he’s about to pull the past out of nothing. “Ya got time for a walk down the back lane?”
Shalom’s already pulling at his hand, pulling hard for the back door. John and I used to go slooping up through the back ditch, looking for sun bellied frogs, and we built a base camp at the foot of the bald beech at the wood’s edge and he’s only a whisker younger, 12 months, 13 days. We’ve come the whole long way together, a lifetime of Julys and slippery love that got away and an unexpected base of grace.
I find my Birks. Malakai bikes ahead of us. Shalom never lets go of his hand. The light dips the the world gold and I try to open the aperture of the mind wide to snap the moment in memory. John’s all talk of our Father, the first and forever one, and how he hears Him in prayers and leads him on. I’m right wide open. Crazy, what wild grace can do to a guy who once boozed away everything come Friday night. Or to an anxious girl who once twisted into a control-tight mother. Christ at the end of a Cross can upend whole worlds and everything lands aright.
“There are wild raspberrrrrries back heeeeeeere!” Malakai rings the woods loud and his echo peals us happy.
We’re like bears rustling through undergrowth, shaking down leaves to fill hungry hands with garnet clusters hanging from canes.
If you lay a hive of raspberry red on your tongue and press your tongue right to the roof of your mouth, you can squeeze the sweet right out of every cell.
Malakai and Shalom pick and giggle, fill their mouths and pucker their lips, kissing summer’s juice. John laughs. Deep and happy and up into poplars. Time can only work age into skin. Within, near the soul, time’s impotent and we’re forever young. I feel about eight.
“Can I pick these?” Shalom’s drifted further down the patch.
“Sure! As long a they’re ripe!” Malakai doesn’t even look up. Bear with a mission.
“Or do you mean those daisies, Shalom?” I step out of raspberry brambles and into the field of dreams and beans so I can see her. “You can pick all the daisies you want, sweet.”
“No, those are weeds.” She turns her back on the billowing clouds of delicate white and she points. “I mean these.”
“Just a minute…” The soybean leaves whisper against the bare legs and I walk all the way to her. “What do you want to pick, hon?”
I follow the direct line of her very certain index finger.
“Oh, but Shalom…” I chuckle… “Shalom, you sure you want to pick a bouquet of those?”
She’s pointing to a clump of burdock.
The nasty hooked balls that snag you going by, velcro to your sleeve, tangle to your hair, knot to your pant legs, your backside, your dog. Those.
“Shalom, that is a burdock, those prickly and stickly things that get stuck in your hair, remember?”
“But they’re purple, Mama.” She says that word “purple” like its jewelled, like its royal and lush. She plucks a stem.
“I like these better than daisies, because —- is white even a color, Mama?” She yanks on another stalk.
“These are all purple.” She says that word again and it’s all sugar rich on her tongue.
Malakai’s got a handful of wild raspberries and Shalom’s wandering ahead with her fistful of purpled burdock and John and I follow them through the briars of our own untamed past. Out of nothing, or the real something this is, I pull now out of what was:
A plant isn’t a flower but a weed only by function of its place; transplant the weed to the heart and it blooms a flower, and I might function in this place.
Love is ridiculous and reconfigures everything.
Kai eats the raspberries before we get home and Shalom puts her burdock in a vase. At the end of a night of weeds and wild things, John and I stand at the back door grinning silly.
What is wilder than grace?
#1732 – #1747 of the endless gifts … weeds I am transplanting to my heart and giving thanks for — so they might flower into pure grace ..
Chronic illness and flares
Mud smudged back door
15 year old family vehicle
Dumped sock baskets
Tossed banana peels
Lost shoes on Sunday morning
Dust bunnies morphed into brontosauruses
the crown of thorns that was the rose of sharon
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