A Flame of Praise in the Shadows

No internet again at the farm, out since Friday night, second weekend in a row. Begging a connection this morning from my Mama’s, as boys log into classes. Forgive Monday tardiness & Saturday silence? Thank you for grace.
All is gift.

We sat under the window in an old schoolhouse made restaurant and talked, him and I, his brother and wife, his sister and husband.

They sipped hot coffee, he and I water. I notice the depth of the windowsills that line the room. These walls must be thick. The camaraderie’s animated, the brothers gesturing hands, and the jokes are too loud. If that’s possible. I feel protected. I look around at faces: When did we all find these laugh lines?




His brother chuckles over their four-year old. How the little gaffer wanted to help and poured water into the lawn mower’s fuel tank so it’d be filled and already to go. Then watched them painting the back deck and thought he’d begin painting on the front side, brushed a nice wide swath of burnt red on the white garage door. And now he says he’s finished with school at four because he can figure out the Curious George stories by just looking at the pictures so he doesn’t need to learn how to read.

And we laugh wonder over that rambunctious little boy we all love more than life, and I think of his two older brothers, their gravestones in the country cemetery just down the road.

Over a steaming refill, his sister tells me that their oldest’s brain damage after the accident is far more severe than they’d anticipated. I watch her eyes. Ring my cup with my finger.

He’s finding it harder to feed himself now, that relentless shaking of his hand surgery only seemed to worsen. The slurred speech, the gait propped only with a shaky cane, the outbursts of previously uncharacteristic anger, these are hard. But what is harder than hearing dreams you can’t make happen?

Her eyes only linger on mine for a moment. The hardest day was the day his younger sister got her license and they all knew, he knew, he never would. I remember babysitting there, years before I married into the family, years before that upending afternoon with a four-wheeler, and I remember his seven- year-old lisp and how he’d stretched his arms wide, wide, right out, to show me how big the fish was he caught. I remember his flannel pajamas with cars. Sometimes your arms just can’t reach wide enough.

The two brothers, one sister, they are laughing now over memories of teenage years, teased bangs and brown corduroys, cars that ran out of gas and wild chases after runaway goats and I glance up and see it over us, the blurring glass of a century old window and who can really see what’s to come and this isn’t the mattering part.

It’s the frame over everything that matters, that arches up and meets like hands enfolding in prayer, like a flame of praise in the shadows.



more of the endless prayers of thanks, praise in the shadows

Ice cream in the dark

Making bows for curly hair

The unexpected unplugging: a Friday night straight through to Monday without internet service, third time in a week it blinks out

Extended sabbath silence

Six-day old babies in church

The mama of the six-day old baby accompanying the hymns on the piano

My statuesque white-haired granny’s 89th birthday

Hours pouring over His Word and hungering for more

Falling in love with Him all over again

Butternut harvest stew with fresh wholewheat bread

A son who makes the heart so glad

The dance of laundry, swoop and swing, all the places for their arms & legs enfolding me

Those man hands that stroke my hair when the tired tears fall

Advil at 2:56 am

The yawn of the dog on the front door step

No coats in late November

The ring of a phone early on a Sunday

Praying that it’s my Dad —

and there’s his voice! Praise!

Laughter with a boy-baker over cookies with four times too much baking powder

Cookies for the dog

Yarn pom poms everywhere, made by a happy girl

Murmuring the Lord’ Prayer throughout the day, rhythm that soothes my storms



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