when life leaves you with more questions than answers
Only a few more weeks left now.
That is what the Farmer says at dinner, what he says as we clatter dishes off the table, the enamel plates all stacking and clapping for the cook.
Only a few more weeks left and August will dip the beans fields bronze and the leaves will reluctantly fall off the beanstalks and just the pods will then dangle, the only rattling ornaments hanging off the naked fields.
And by then it won’t matter.
It won’t matter then if the nights lay in thick and close and humid, won’t matter if the mist lies down in all the hollows, rolls itself out, a shag white carpet around all the woods, bridges the the hills in long planks of fog. By then the mist come with the dusk can’t make mold in the bean fields. Only a few more weeks and then fall plucks off all the green and the white sky tufts can’t sift in under the leaves and grow white fungus tufts. Just a few more weeks. Will we make it?
Tonight again I sit on the porch. I rock in the swing. The fog drifts in. An endless sea rolling in soundless.
The children have dragged quilts and pillows and stories across the dewing lawn and out to the tent. I had heard Kai talking of owls in woods and Levi interrupting with wolves and the ow-ow-ow-howl of coyotes and Shalom had only had big eyes.
We’ve already prayed, but I wander down the lane to check on them one more time. Their laughter runs across the lawn to meet me; their loud stories jostle the tent like a womb stretched over kicking quintuplets.
I smile. SSSSShhhh. My whisper’s too loud.
The canvas belly stills.
“To sleep now… tomorrow morning comes early. And with it, the barn and pigs and hens and eggs and your chores.” The mist is settling in. The crickets serenade.
“Yes, Mom.” In unison. Then a giggle… a flail…. Stillness.
All the world’s blanketed. Hushed.
I’m not asleep when I hear the panting at the back door, the breathlessness come wild cross the full length of the house. I already have my arms wide open when she flings herself onto the bed.
“How did you know it was me?” She whimpers into the crook of my neck. I pull her close. Her hair smells of dry grass and summer sun. She looks up.
“How did you know it wasn’t the wolves coming in?”
“Oh, Shalom!” I muffle this startled chuckle. “No wolves are coming round here —- and I knew it was you coming in by the way you were breathing.” I brush the damp curls from her clammy forehead.
“You know me just by my breaths?” Sometimes words and eyes aren’t necessary to see inside —- sometimes we only have to listen to the way a soul breathes to know the deep places.
I half smile.
“Are you scared sleeping out there?”
She nods, wraps her arms around my neck.
“What’s all that white coming around everywhere?” She waves her hand in the shadows, towards the window and twilight. The fog hangs on invisible threads over the fields. High humidity lowered low.
“What’s mist?” She whispers it soft.
She herself is mystery. The world is.
“Mist is….” I feel about for words. And sometimes the words “I do not know” reveal the deepest wisdom – the essence of humility and the acceptance of the God-mystery beyond our understanding.
“Mist is … clouds.”
“Clouds come right down?” Her eyes are so wide they catch light here in the dim and I see her glint wonder.
“You mean…” she’s enters the hush of the world. “You can just reach out there and touch a real cloud? Feel it right in your hand?”
I’m caught in wonder, the child sharing her lit eyes.
“I walked with the clouds?” She can hardly believe it. Neither can I.
I read it once, how in Lima, Peru, with its little rain and heavy fogs, the women hang out rags in the hanging fog and wait till they’ve collected moisture from the mist. The clouds saturates the cloths and they wring it out. It’s a way of making water. It’s a way of surviving. It’s what they call “harvesting fog.”
She looks out the window again. I can barely hear her, her awe.
“Heaven’s right here.”
I look out the window. Her cheek rests against mine.
Heaven’s right here and we harvest His mysteries, drink from the veil we can’t see through.
This is how we’ll survive.
And wolves howl in the woods and we’re scared but none can come round here because breath of heaven surrounds and God who breathed Himself warm into us, the clay souls, knows us by our breath and He’s listening to our deep places inside and He’s already waiting with arms wide open. Just a few more thousand breaths now. We will make it.
Because God rolls in and saturates everything and Heaven’s right here.
I pull her close and think how this is it. Life’s walking with the Cloud.
For all the holy breaths left.
She falls asleep under mist. I rest in mystery.
By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud
to guide them on their way….