It was my mother’s dream to have a log house, and my father built her one in Possum Holler, in the rolling hills of northern Alabama. You’d have trouble finding that name on a map, but it’s the place I grew up alongside the peach and pecan trees my Dad planted in front of the house. I didn’t see very many Opossums there, but it was a Hollow in the mountains, so that fits. There was a lake as well, and a small cave to explore, and a sinkhole, and the forest on the mountain behind us was basically endless. I would certainly have gotten lost several times in those woods, if I hadn’t had our dog along to show me the way home. She always knew, and I learned to trust her, even when I thought she was wrong.
I promise I was there for my appointment this morning, but the queue was long.
They called my name, and I wasn’t even inside the door yet because of the crowd. So I waited around for 45 minutes until I noticed that the people who came in after me were being called, and asked the worker coming back from the toilet – he figured out what had happened and let me go next. But still, I lost 45 minutes this morning because they were eager to save 2.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s not much, but I’ve got bigger stories, about bigger injustices. Plenty of them. The times I’ve been blamed for things I didn’t do, the friends who betrayed me, the hard work and sacrifice that was never enough… if you’ve been on earth for a few years, you’ve got stories, too. Probably we could sit and tell them all night, if we wanted to. Maybe we do. It feels good to unload all the injustice of the world on a willing ear. It grants a kind of release, but the trouble with re-opening and bleeding through old wounds is that it doesn’t actually help them heal.
Notre Dame burned yesterday.
I haven’t heard an official story as to why, but accident or arson, the result is the same: A beautiful landmark destroyed, and the world in mourning.
I’m in mourning, too, even though I’m not French, not Catholic, and have never even seen the Cathedral except in pictures. It’s still awful to think of more than eight centuries of history going up in smoke, awful to see a masterwork of our ancestors so terribly damaged, awful to see one of the irreplaceable treasures of Europe’s cultural inheritance consumed in ash and flame.
Last year on our flight to America, my boys were looking forward to the Pac-Man knockoff game on the in-flight entertainment system before we even boarded. My daughter remembered which movies she had watched two flights before. She had just turned six, and was about to take her fourth trip over the Atlantic.
This was not my childhood.
When groups of people live together on the same piece of earth, we have to learn how to get along. Granted, we’re often not very good at it, but even if we spend a lot of time arguing, we still need each other and depend on each other quite a bit more than we’d usually like to admit. And that’s not all: we also influence each other quite a bit more than we’d usually like to admit. Oddly enough, you can even see this in what we choose to argue about and the arguments that we use.
The days are getting longer and brighter, so I know the traditional time is approaching for me to go to war. Once again, I fight in a campaign against dandelions. After winning the first few battles easily, before the weeds have a chance to go to seed, I think I’m the one in control. I’m much bigger and stronger than they are, I have a brain, and I have Roundup. But the enemy ranks aren’t intimidated by all the things I have. And they have something I don’t: the ability to never sleep. All they do is grow, non-stop. Then comes a morning when I wake up to a garden full of dandelions I’ve never met before, all gone to seed before I’ve finished my coffee. It doesn’t really matter how many times I kill them. As soon as I look away, they’re back, and in greater numbers.
Guest post by Dan Oosthuizen
I used to think that God was there to give me things. Good health. A job. Harmony in my marriage. Getting a table at a nice restaurant on a Friday night!
The Bible does teach us that God is concerned with our material welfare, in the sense that He will provide us with what we need in order to do His work. So, I think that I was following a Biblical pattern when, having been unemployed for 18 months and then recruited by the civil service, I praised God with thanksgiving. Seneca and I organised a party at our house, and invited friends who had walked alongside us through that journey. We wanted to give thanks to God, and to do so by celebrating the blessing He had given us. That was a really enjoyable evening, and I think everybody felt the sense of joy and gratitude. One week later, at 7 o’clock in the morning on Saturday, September 5th 2015, I got a phone call that felt like a sledgehammer to the ribcage:
My sister, Mari, had hanged herself.