… for history is a pattern / Of timeless moments.
– T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets
The kids and I are reading the Little House books. One chapter each night. We began with Farmer Boy and a fire in the old stone hearth. Now we are in the big woods of Wisconsin, and there is birdsong through our open window.
It is also haying time in the fields west of this house. When we drive in that direction, to buy chicken feed from the feed and lumber store or flats of annuals from a greenhouse, we watch teams of muscled, shaggy horses at work in every field. They look as if they have been plowing the same red-clay soil for two hundred years. Day in, day out.
Sometimes there is a young boy holding the reins. He wears suspenders and a straw hat, and together we wriggle to keep from pointing and shout “Look! Farmer Boy!”
In this place, when the breeze carries the bracing smell of hay, just-cut, I am able to understand something about time that is normally hidden from me.
Time is not a line carrying us always farther from the past. Time is not a thread, and we are not simply biding it until the day ours is cut.
These days, in Lancaster County, I can see that time is a spring. Past and present and future bubble up together, and the sound is like music. Like the clip-clop of horses’ hooves. Like birdsong through an open window.
But my children appear to be lines racing, racing away from me. Willowy is the word that comes to mind when I observe my firstborn girl. For nearly two years, I’ve seen her baby face when I look at my youngest, my second girl, but that face is now lost. Elsa Spring has grown into herself. There is a family resemblance, yes, but more and more she looks only like Elsa. Something has been shed, and the lines of her eyes and chin are now hers alone. No longer her older sister’s.
And thus, two baby girls vanish from every place but memory.
I don’t really know if I am living in a country of lost things or a kingdom of restoration and everything made new. I look around, I read the news, and I find both. Hopelessly jumbled.
We lose babies and grandmothers. We lose marriages and homes. We lose our younger selves and friendships and health and peace between nations and on and on forever, it seems.
But every new season is also a return, and the month of May, this pivot between spring and summer, reminds me that it is possible to root myself in that bubbling spring. To live sure of what I cannot always see: that time is not linear but rhythmic. It is a song where every note returns and every note is new.
And this is the living water that sustains me. This is the living water I hold out. To my racing children. To my thirsty neighbor.
Maybe eternity begins when I read a favorite story for the third, fourth, fifth time.
Maybe eternity begins here. Now.
Y’know, I thought some very similar thoughts this very morning when I heard of Maya Angelou’s passing. How it is a profound loss for us all … and yet, in a way, she is still with us. We will still benefit from her wisdom and her welter of experiences every time her words are read. This is beyond time, but it is also within time. Time measured as deep, not only as long.
I love how the earth and the children teach us these things, as you have so eloquently said above, for those who will listen.
(And I gotta say it – as always, Christie, when I read your words, I want to write better. You call forth the best in me, my friend, because you are so gifted.)
Kelli, you are a treasure. Thanks for the encouragement.
This is why I love reading your words, friend. They fill with the sweetness and the melancholy, sweet and bitter, sorrow and hope. My heart nods yes.
Thank you, Ashley. Sometimes I worry that I leave things too muddled. I’d like to be able to separate out the sorrow and the hope, as you put it. But maybe they shouldn’t be sifted?
Thank you, Katie. Thank you.
I am also ready LHOTP series before bed! And my baby girl is growing up too fast.
God has a way of taking what is stirring up in my heart and confirming it in your words. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened. Minutes ago I read Isaiah 43:19, ” See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
It’s so hard to believe, so hard to press into the hope in the middle of so much brokenness. So hard to allow in the Joy! But I learning to lean in to it. xo
One of my very favorite verses, Hannah.
When an article of your pops up in my inbox, I wait to savor it when I have a moment to sit and digest your words. For your writing feeds my soul. You have such a beautiful gift of writing. It is like woven tapestry. Keep it up.
Lori, such beautiful encouragement. Thank you so very much.
Yes, Me too. I’m reading LHOTP (never used those initials before) to our GRANDS who are visiting without their mom and dad for a week. Jack, 8 and Ashlyn, 6 1/2 are sitting and absorbing and loving the story. And I’m still learning new words.
I will re-read your descriptive words, Christie, after they leave next week and savor again.
love your voice ….
“I don’t really know if I am living in a country of lost things or a kingdom of restoration and everything made new.” Me too. I echo Kelli’s words about the way you inspire Christie, thankful for you.
Gorgeous, as always, Christie. And thought-provoking, in the very best way. Thank you so much.