life

A Mighty Four-Year-Old Fist

She sat, legs outstretched, hair towel-wrapped, back against the wall, on her bed in a rented house in the historic part of town. An old house near the tracks, just barely safe, just barely respectable, just barely far enough away from the drunks in the flophouse. Her out of place sophistication and beauty did not go unnoticed by the beer guzzling neighbors on her right and on her left.

She called her little house the meat in a redneck sandwich. It was a temporary dwelling, until she got back on her feet.

She was on the phone, midway through a dreary conversation, when her daughter appeared beside the bed and took the receiver from her hand.  Clenching her little four-year-old-fist she spoke into the mouthpiece loud and clear:

“I want to know why you don’t live with us anymore!”

There was a pause. She held her breath wondering how he would answer. She wanted to know, too.

His stern reply came through loud enough for her to hear:

“Put your mother back on.”

She was stunned. Stunned by the courage and stunned by the cowardice.

That sweet, gentle, smart little girl with the impressive vocabulary had a question brewing in her little heart that her mom knew nothing about.  It had been over a year since her father left, and she was just now asking it.

Perhaps it took more than a year to muster the courage. Perhaps at two-and-a-half she didn’t know what to ask.  Perhaps she hadn’t noticed, until she was four, that the dads of other kids lived with them, so why didn’t he? Perhaps she had thought he was away for a while and the while had grown too long.

“I’m just as surprised as you are,” she replied after being berated for putting their daughter up to it, “and someday you are going to have to answer her question.”

Courage inspires. Cowardice disappoints.

Sitting on her bed, receiver back in its cradle, she was disappointed.

The only answer she had ever gotten when she had asked the question was, “Marriage isn’t what I thought it was going to be and I don’t want it anymore.”

But in that breath-held moment she hoped he would muster enough courage of his own to give his daughter a gentle, truthful, more specific answer. Or at least a gentle, truthful promise to talk with her about it later, in person, when he wasn’t caught so off-guard.

But he chose angry defensiveness instead. He chose his discomfort over his daughter’s brave, vulnerable, broken, suddenly demanding little heart.

Sitting on her bed, receiver back in it’s cradle, she was inspired, impressed, in awe.

Her little girl was BRAVE.  Her little girl was going to be okay in life. Her little girl had the courage to ask tough questions, to risk anger and disappointment, to speak up. Her little girl had the courage to ask for something more than the status quo.

He never answered his daughter’s question with words, but he answered it.

He answered it in the choice of his second wife, a lovely woman who is kind and nurturing and not the sharpest tool in the box, not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Sometimes she marvels at the fact that he doesn’t appear bothered by the dullness of her bulb.  But, then, she supposes, perhaps that is what he imagined marriage should be.

And (@ANNELAMOTT), if she remembers correctly, his you-know-what was kinda’ small.

 

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life, Light

Wisdom to the Mighty, Succor to the Brave

My playlist was quiet this uneventful week.  Except for yesterday.  Yesterday my daughter and I went to the early matinee to see Selma.  Heart wrenching Selma.  I have something to say about it.  Tomorrow.

Then last night we went to her church and listened to three called and courageous individuals tell stories of their fights for freedom. Stories of the long, slow, committed, two-steps-forward-one-step-back fight to end sex trafficking as they rescue one precious, exploited child at a time.  Stories of relief brought to Syrian refugees and healing brought to Sudanese boys inducted, brutally, into brutal armies.

One speaker said something like this:

We look at all the suffering in the world and we ask, “Where are you God?”

And God says, “I’m in the Congo; I’m in the Philippines, on the streets with the children.  Where are you?

Another speaker said that the world is overwhelmingly ugly.  But it is also overwhelmingly beautiful.  God told her to fight for the beauty.

Isn’t that exactly what God told all of us to do when He first created us in the garden?

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Genesis 1:28

Subdue = kabash = “to bring into bondage, tread down”

Lots of people think Genesis 1:28 means that we are supposed to dominate other creatures, be kings of the forest.  But if everything God created was good up to that point, then the only thing lurking that needed to be bound and trampled was His enemy.

“Subdue evil,”  He said, “Fight for the beauty.”

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.  Genesis 2:15

Cultivate = ‘abad = “to do work, to serve God”

Keep = shaman = “to guard, keep watch and ward, protect, save life”

“Keep watch over this world,” He said. “Protect it from the evil one.”

That is our purpose.  And this is our song:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence in the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery Gospel
writ in burnished rows of steel:
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free
While God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah.
Our God is marching on.

© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist

http://www.love146.org

http://www.worldrelief.org

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Playlist of the Week.”

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