Courage at Twilight: Blessed Art Thou

     

The bushes are rounded, the water drained from the coiled garden hoses. The witches and scarecrows have moved into the dark basement, while the pilgrim couple watches the neighborhood from the front porch.  The first snow fell before the leaves fell, and now the leaves have fallen, too.  I raked mounds of big yellow sweet gum leaves from the gutter and across the sidewalk onto the lawn, as Dad wished, so he could vacuum them up with the riding mower.  But the piles of leaves were much too deep for the mower.  Advancing along the sidewalk, I raked the leaves into a neat windrow, as if for bailing, like hay, and each sweep of leaves onto the windrow rustled with the sound of small waves cresting and falling to lap gently at wet sand on a beach.  I could hear the ocean in the raking of five-pointed leaves.  The truth is, I expect God to bless me.  I believe in his generosity.  I believe in his intention to enrich my life, even if with adversity.  I believe he will bless every human being with exactly those blessings that human needs in each moment for that human’s spiritual progress to the extent of that human’s willingness and ability to receive.  The arrival of providence does not bring an accompanying ease, but rather an urgent invitation to be more than we have been.  I believe that as I search for opportunities to enrich the lives of others, those opportunities will be provided, enriching my life in return.  I believe God wants me and my children and all his human children to succeed, and will help us as we allow.  Success, of course, as he defines, not as I define.  He may bless me with hardship (he will bless me with hardship) just as he will bless me to grow through and heal from hardship, improving and ennobling in the process.  I am learning that God is trustworthy.  And I am learning, so slowly, to listen to his voice as he instructs me and guides me to love and to forgive and to serve.  I hear his voice in the raking windrows of sweetgum leaves.  And I left plenty of loose leaves to be sucked up by the lawn mower Dad managed to clamber onto and ride triumphantly and humbly across the lawn for the last time this year.

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