It’s early morning, we’re in the middle of Holy Week, patiently awaiting Easter, not standing in the full light just yet, but full of trust in our Lenten work. If I were being honest I would admit mine was an epic fail, but I’m hopeful because I believe the roots of new life often lie in the decay of that which we hold onto, hoard really, stuff we’re trying to unload, and by the way we can’t do it alone.
When entering the epic Easter story, where death precariously hangs a few scant inches over our heads (Craig Lounsbrough), having been methodically placed there one piece at a time by a lifetime of choices. The reality is until we understand the gravity of what hangs but a breath away, we will not understand why Jesus hung on a cross to sweep it all away. Praise be to God.
Larry says to me, as I’m sipping my coffee, and enjoying the prospects of a day without prospects, “I’ve read about this before, it happens all the time.”
“Honey, I might need a little more information if I am to agree, or not?”
He glances at me over the rim of his rather feminine-looking reading glasses (I believe they are an old pair of mine), balanced at the end of his generous nose, as if he just noticed I was in the room, but he fails to fully register my presence, and promptly returns to the article he’s browsing on his phone.
Suit yourself, I return to my inner musings, and warm coffee, it’s as if I were alone, but not, which I’m quite familiar with thank you. This is how marriage with an introvert manifests, I’m here, but not fully realized.
Just when I believe we’ve put the mysterious matter behind us, he looks up and says, “Rental cars, when you check out they’re death traps.”
“Really, you’ve rented hundreds over the years, and managed to survive?”
He says, “listen to this, yesterday some doorknob leaving the rental car parking lot plowed into the car in front of him, took out the woman who was unloading her trunk.”
“I’ve never heard of such a thing?”
“It happens all the time. I always stand to the side of the car when I’m checking out.”
“So that’s why you have me deal with the luggage?”
I get the look.
“Do you need a refill?”
So this got me thinking about the importance of where we stand, not just in parking lots, but our practices, and perspectives. As Abraham Lincoln was known to say, “be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” In this case, it’s to the side of danger.
I believe a healthy perspective is an important attribute, along with a sense of humor, because the world is not fixed, everything is contingent on each other.
It’s early afternoon, I’m back in my room grading papers and simultaneously working on this week’s post. It’s true, women can multitask, both projects suffer, but we get shit done.
Larry walks into our room after hours of revamping a two-bedroom unit we’re – meaning Larry – is preparing to rent. He says, “you have no idea what a cluster of gopher poo (he used a scrappier word but you get the gist) I had to deal with today.”
I say, “oh no, what happened,” giving his tale half an ear as I continue to grade reflections on turning sin into salvation.
He goes into a long explanation about the state of the sinks in the unit, how he just finished replacing the kitchen sink, when he decided to replace the leaky trap in the bathroom sink, tighten it up a bit, and the entire sink cracked. He spent the better part of an hour breaking out the tile and removing the shattered sink. Now he has another installation to finish before we can rent the place.
I say, “rentals age like people, you go years without a problem, and then wham, you’re bombarded with issues.”
He says, “seems as if I’m inundated with leaky traps.” Was he trying to be funny?
“As you know they’re hard to replace.”
I glance to my left where my husband of thirty-eight years is now snoring in the chair right next to me. I came in here to be alone, to think, consider my words, but like he has for thirty-some years, he prefers to sleep right next to me, and I think that’s sort of romantic.
After throwing a blanket over the snoozing man, I head to the family room to empty a few more cupboards in preparation for our upcoming remodel. I can only do a few at a time, it’s emotionally draining. Pieces of my former self are stacked in these cavernous crevasses and I’m forced to sit and revisit these memories. I reacquaint myself with the master chef I was going to be, the world traveler, the published writer, the interior decorator, the supreme quilter, the domestic engineer, but above all the mother extraordinaire.
I manage to empty several cupboards of memorabilia which I load into three boxes and carefully stack in the garage. I’m sweaty, exhausted, and feeling nostalgic, haunted by delusions about who and what I was going to be, but now realize I fell short in many of my aspirations. I wonder if this is how God felt when he was emptying the tomb?
I did what I could, but could I have done more? I suppose, but at whose expense? The painful truth is we gravitate towards our truest desires, right through the mess of life, despite the pitfalls, and unexpected turn of events. We all have our limitations, and we can use them to derail ourselves, or God forbid…ask for help!
I still believe it might be easier to die than remodel a house, at least on the other side you don’t need all this baggage. Sue Augustine says the time has come to lay that baggage down and leave behind all the struggling and striving.
I retire to the backyard, Larry joins me on the patio, our backyard is broken up into informal beds containing a miniature maple tree, Italian fountain, playset for the grandkids, with an assortment of pots filled with geraniums, succulents, and inpatients arranged with casual precision around the patio. The arbor is only standing because of a magnificently overgrown wisteria now bursting with purple foliage. As a whole, the garden is charming, but largely dilapidated.
It seems we are currently inundated with stages of dilapidation, including our dwellings, our purposes, and our bodies, but we’ve managed to stand to the side of danger for the most part.
I return to the story of Easter and the moment Jesus emerged from the tomb, groggy, confused, and disoriented from all the trauma to find his beloved companion standing beside him. I can only imagine how excited Mary was to hear him call her by name and calmly instruct her to go and share the good news, “I have risen.”
The Easter story could have been considered an epic fail, but God transforms that which appears to be tragic into triumph, the inevitability of death into the miracle of new life, and by the way she deals with the luggage.
I’m Living in the Gap, join me in the safety of the comments! How’s the renovations going?
- “Everyone has baggage, maybe we should help each other carry it.” Rob Liano
- “To believe in the story of Easter is to believe that a wall is nothing more than a door in disguise.” Craig D. Lounsbrough
- “People are here because they’ve got baggage. I’m talking curbside-check-in, pay-the-fine-’cause-it’s-over-fifty-pounds kind of baggage. Get it?” Lauren Kate