April 8, 2018
I’m writing this post from my sunroom, looking out over the last golden remnants of a brisk-but-beautiful spring day. Behind me, the dogs are snoozing on the kitchen floor, and I know that my husband is sitting at his desk in the den beyond.
Yes, my friends, we are HOME. Last Wednesday a cavalcade of moving trucks came rumbling down the driveway and a small army of men and women started carrying in our things. There was something almost fairytale-ish about seeing all these long-empty rooms waking to warmth and familiarity. I nearly wept at the sight of my great-grandmother’s petticoat table, our faithful kitchen chairs, the little Empire sofa from the parlor, and my own desk, endearingly battered and scarred from years of hard service.
Never mind the fact that our new mattress is too big for our antique bed. That night, after all these long, weary months, we slept under our own roof. And for the first time in nearly a year, I woke up in my own room.
Happiness doesn’t even come close to the way we’re feeling–it’s not nearly nuanced enough. Only joy can accommodate the complexity of it all; only joy can let the grief of loss mingle with the wonder of restoration. We are walking in joy these days, dazed by it, sometimes tear-blinded by it. And the significance of the timing of it all is not lost on us: how fitting of the Lord to bring us to our ‘desired haven’ in the resurrected world of Eastertide.
Throughout this ordeal, the concept of feasting has been a recurring hope–the fact that our home would one day ring with the laughter of loved ones once more, and that our mirth and our solemnity alike would image a Feast all creation is longing for, has been a glimmer of radiance on the rim of even the darkest of days. So many things have pointed to that in this story, things I look forward to sharing with you in more detail. But suffice it to say, for now, that faith has taken the shape of a feast in my heart and mind over the past year.
“Easter is a 50-day feast,” a friend reminded me the week before we moved in. “You have plenty of time to savor the meaning in all this.”
And time is just exactly what I need, both for savoring and settling. We’ve a long ways to go yet before repairs are fully completed and the last moving box is emptied. I’m wandering from room to room, unpacking one box at a time, trying not to lose heart at the mountain before me. In a way, it’s like one big, long, super-emotional Christmas, with package after package crammed with carefully wrapped mystery bundles.
(True to their word, the contents company handled my Georgian tea set with exquisite care. And Gog and Magog are happy to be reinstated on the bedroom mantel.)
On Easter Sunday (a splendor of sunlight and birdsong here in Georgia), the pastor reminded us that the act of feasting is both a celebration and a discipline.
“Life wins,” he said. “Will we live as if life ultimately wins when we see death all around?”
That paradox resonated with me, and continues to, as I feather my nest with loved and familiar things–and as I open a box suddenly reeking with the horror and surprise of an all-too-familiar aroma of smoke.
The night we moved in, I asked Philip to read Psalm 126–the very Psalm the Lord used 19 years ago to articulate the hope of our coming marriage. As he read, I wept with wonder–and, yes–Joy:
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
Last Wednesday, after the movers had gone for the day and the rooms fell silent with a hush of expectation, I looked around at the million-and-one things that all needed doing at the same moment. And then, remembering Elisabeth Eliot’s famous injunction to “do the next thing,” I did the most important thing I could think of. Summoning my puppy, Luna, and grabbing a pair of scissors, I wandered out into the yard and gathered a bouquet of apple blossoms, old-fashioned shirt buttons and still-green snowball flowers. Then I came back into the house, dumped them in my new/old sink, and proceeded make an arrangement for the kitchen windowsill.
To think that God would time our re-homing with the appearance of dogwoods and azaleas is breathtaking to me.
And for the rest of my life, the scent of apple blossoms will make me think of that day.
Life wins, my friends. Take heart.
Under the Mercy,
p.s. In keeping with a season of renewal, I’m stepping back from the internet for the duration of Eastertide–not going ‘dark,’ necessarily, but definitely dim. I need to find my rhythms and remember what rest looks like. And unpack all those boxes! 😉 I’ll probably pop in on Instagram once in a while, but otherwise I think I’ll just give myself permission to order my little world and ‘study to be quiet,’ as the good old King James would say.
To my newsletter subscribers, you can look for a final installment in our restoration story around the middle of May. 🙂
A blessed Eastertide to you all. He is risen, and that changed everything.